What is a B2B Brand Agency?
A business to business or b2b brand agency is a specialized type of branding agency. These types of brand agencies help companies that provide products or services to other businesses. These types of companies are also known as “business to business” or “b2b”.
Brand agencies that specialize in b2b businesses are exceedingly rare. To be clear, the agencies that do it well, are exceedingly rare.
B2B branding comes with its own challenges that most branding agencies are not capable of overcoming. Not because they are bad agencies but because they have never worked in the b2b market. In b2b branding, experience matters!
Why You Should Care About Your Business To Business Branding
Branding is the foundation of your business and what your business represents. A brand is not a slogan or a logo. A brand is a promise from a brand to its consumers.
As a b2b company, what is the promise your customers expect you to keep? If you can’t answer that without hesitation, give us a call, we can help.
Customer expectations can come from anywhere.
Customers can come with expectations from other companies or from their own research. This is why it is important for all levels of the company to understand the corporate brand and brand promise.
It all starts with sales and marketing. These two departments are what bring in new clients. Once these two departments are echoing your brand promise, your clients will understand what your brand is about and this will remove all other expectations.
Customer Service and Brand Promise
The next level of the business most affected by the brand promise is customer service. Any customers who have come into your organization with expectations that have not been met will go through customer service. All customer service representatives will need to provide detailed reports for any and all clients that have been lost.
These reports should be reviewed on a regular schedule. Upon reviewing each report, take note of the most significant problem areas. When there is enough actionable data, take the finding to the head of that department, and formulate a strategy to address the issue.
A lost client is not just one person, it is a whole company. If a member of that company leaves and goes to another company, their bad experience with your b2b company will exclude you from all future talks when they have a need for a product or service that you provide.
Does B2B Branding Affect Buying Decisions
B2b branding, in this sense, is just like any other company. How you brand your company is what customers will expect from you. If you do not have a brand, brand clarity, or brand consistency customers will expect a combination of what they have heard about your company plus whatever brand promise they have seen on marketing materials.
Let’s break this down and talk about these individually.
Word Of Mouth Branding And Buying Decisions
What is your brand reputation?
If you can’t answer that you need a b2b brand agency.
A b2b brand agency will discover what customers are hearing and how your company is perceived in the market. This information will show any potential issues or inconsistencies with your current company brand. After analyzing the data the b2b brand agency will work with your company to create a plan on how to best address these issues using a b2b branding strategy.
B2B Branding Questions
To better understand the branding research conducted by the b2b brand agency during this phase, here are a few example questions that will need to be answered:
1. What are your customers saying about your company?
2. What is the typical customer experience?
3. What are some examples of extreme customer experiences?
Brand Consistency Affects Buying Decision
What is the value proposition of your b2b business?
If you know the answer to this without hesitation, you are doing well. But branding involves every level of a company. We challenge you to ask others from all levels within the company.
Was their response the same as yours? If their response was different, you have an internal issue. This internal issue likely doesn’t stop there either.
Do Your Materials Match Your Value Proposition?
Look at your consumer-facing promotional materials. Do these materials follow the same value proposition that your company founded?
A b2b brand agency will remove the inconsistencies from all communications, internal and external. Controlling and monitoring your company’s brand ensures you control the messaging, thus dictating your reputation within your industry.
How Can A B2B Brand Agency Help Your Marketing
Traditional B2B thinking tends to overlook branding when it comes to budgeting or building out a marketing plan. This could not be further from reality. The impact of your brand can be a cornerstone of your company if done properly.
Let’s look at some of the most common issues facing B2B companies and how a b2b brand agency can solve them.
B2B companies provide great solutions for common business issues. Unfortunately, these issues are sometimes really difficult to explain. If your company has the greatest solution in the world but can’t explain it in a concise manner it won’t be long before the company goes bankrupt.
This is one of the most common issues we see. As a b2b brand agency, we have a lot of clients who come to us as the last option. They have tried multiple other solutions hoping to solve their sales problems.
Don’t let this happen to your business. If you are just starting your b2b company focus on solving this first, or give us a call and we can provide insights.
Too Many Buyers
Your b2b product or service is so universal that everyone can use it. That is great. Are you able to effectively communicate with every different type of buyer?
This Is referred to as a buyer’s persona. And yes, even b2b companies need them. Successful communication relies on being able to effectively reach and communicate with your buyers regardless of how and where they intake information.
How A B2B Branding Agency Can Help
A great b2b branding agency will do the research and provide a full breakdown of your buyers. This will help you to better understand your buyers. The buyer persons will also show you what problems they are struggling with and what platform to best reach them to show your solution to their problem.
Having buyers is a great problem unless you don’t know how to talk to them!
We can help…
Brand Messaging, Reality, and Customer Expectations
This is closely related to the word of mouth branding from the previous section. But let’s dig a little deeper to illustrate the potential impact on your business.
If your brand messaging is about how you can make their life easier by using your company as a provider, you better make sure that is true. If your customers encounter roadblocks, unhelpful employees, or inconsistent deliveries, you can be sure there will be a lot of unhappy customers.
Your brand message sets the expectations
If this does not line up with reality, you will find yourself fighting a losing pr battle as clients begin to abandon your company. If this is not addressed quickly you may find your company is not able to continue operating.
To avoid this, we here at id8 will do something not many other b2b branding agencies will. We do company visits. We want to talk to employees, observe operations, and see the flow of communication. Getting a feel for the company and what the core beliefs are, will help to better position your branding to match reality and customer expectations.
How Can A B2B Brand Agency Help With Sales
Brand recognition and brand resonance will ensure you have a full pipeline of leads for your sales department. This is what a b2b branding agency does for your company. They ensure your prospects don’t forget about you.
So how will this help sales?
Branding And Sales Accepted Leads (SALs)
SALs are sales accepted leads and are paramount to the success of a b2b business. So now you are asking yourself: How will a b2b branding agency help to produce more or better SALs?
Brand recognition is the first step to creating more sales for your company. With better recognition, your company will see a rise in the number of inquiries. Even if the same percentage of inquiries meet the qualifications you will have increased your SALs because the overall number of inquiries increased.
Getting your company’s brand seen regularly by your target market will do nothing less than provide more opportunities.
B2B Companies With Long Buying Cycles
Long buying cycles are common in B2B businesses. But how will better company branding help with a long buying cycle? Simple. On-brand messaging and increased brand recall.
A long buying cycle requires multiple touches through different channels of communication over an extended period of time. Effective communication is not a mass email to all prospects. Sure, that may also be necessary, but to increase the brand resonance it needs to be more personalized.
How Sales Representatives Can Assist Your Brand
Try having sales reps send cards, texts, and gifts (if appropriate). These are not intended to sway the prospect but to sincerely congratulate or thank them. If this is a part of your branding strategy and you are consistent with it, you will see an influx of customers.
Why? Because you were able to build an effective way to reach your prospect in a way that resonated. As a point of note: this needs to be sincere and for it to be effective for your brand, the communications need to be branded.
B2B Customer Retention Issues
B2B companies with customer retention issues have to look into customer expectations. The quickest way to lose customers is by not delivering on their expectations.
If your company is not monitoring the branding and customer experience you will continue to lose customers. What does this mean? Your company needs to identify the point in the buyer’s cycle where their expectations are not being met.
Long Sales Cycles And Retention
When b2b companies with a long sales cycle lose a customer, it greatly impacts their business. A company that has a 7 years cycle will likely never get another chance with that customer. And if that customer is well connected you may lose the opportunity to work with anyone in their network.
Customer retention is not about offering them something at a discount to get your customers to stay. The customer retention department should be your investigators. They are responsible for finding out what issues the client experienced.
Any and all complaints from a customer leaving your company need to be documented, reviewed, and appropriately addressed. If there is a hole in the customer experience process your company will continue to lose business.
How Can A B2B Brand Agency Help Your Company Culture?
If cultivated properly, company culture can become one of the company’s most valuable assets. This intangible asset is echoed throughout the halls and meeting rooms of your company. A b2b brand agency will identify any divides between your current culture and what you want your culture to be.
But why is this necessary? The necessity of a corporate culture audit is seen in 3 major areas every company wants to improve.
Build a Company Culture of Innovation
A company that innovates will always be at the front of its industry. They may not even be the most profitable yet. But, innovation gets people talking, and publishing articles about your company.
So how do you build a company culture that lends itself to innovation? It all starts with your company brand. What are the core beliefs of your company?
If these core beliefs do not welcome an open forum for discussion within your company’s ranks, you want to go back and revise your belief on open forums. Everyone wants to be heard. This is doubly true for your employees.
Start With Your Employees
Listen to your employees. Take their feedback and create action plans to test new ideas. Bring in other departments to understand how or if this change would affect them. Ask for their feedback on it. Do this over and over again until it becomes part of the company.
This can start small. Previously an employee might see a way to improve something but the superior brushes it off. This is exactly what you want to discuss with all department heads. Start with anything new that leads to a better product, a better experience for the customer, a better way of operating that improves the quality of your employees’ life.
The Ripple Effect
Any project that falls within any of those three will be well received by employees and you will start to see ripples of this through your entire organization.
Another byproduct of innovation is how attractive it is. Everyone wants to help innovate. So let’s look at how culture affects recruiting.
Recruiting Made Easy With Company Culture
Providing a company culture that encourages innovation produces an open and accepting company culture. This will make recruiting top talent into the company easier. Honestly, who doesn’t want to work in a place of acceptance and open communication?
Fun and relaxed cultures like Google and other tech companies are great. But that might not work in your industry. If this is the case, look to build a culture of openness. Any place where ideas are flowing and creativity are not stifled by bureaucratic processes are where people will want to work.
Use some of the current and past projects as examples when recruiting. Showcase how the idea started and how it evolved to be a cross-departmental effort. This will show how seriously your company is about taking suggestions.
Retaining Employees With A Great Company Culture
Employees will leave your company. This is the hard fact of all businesses no matter what industry your business is in. But the rate at which employees leave is what your culture can help with.
Employee only newsletters that are fun and entertaining are a great way to keep employees informed. Adding in fun bits of trivia, puzzles, and other tricks to increase engagement may be necessary at the beginning if your company has not established a precedent for this.
Give Back To Your Employees
Events and activities during and after work are a great way to give back to your employees. Scavenger hunts and yoga desk breaks are a couple of ideas to get started with. These also have the benefit of a low cost. As your company grows be sure that these activities grow proportionally.
Showing appreciation to your employees should happen more often than throwing a party once a year for employee appreciation day. This should be an ongoing reward for being a vital part of a growing company.
As a b2b brand agency, we can help you increase sales, retain employees and customers. Schedule a call and find out how we can help.