And how B2B Branding can build customer loyalty and continued growth
“My business is not retail focused, so why do I need branding?” Good question, now here’s the answer.
Believe it or not, B2B organizations can benefit from branding as much as any retail based business. They do so by helping to reduce advertising and marketing costs while also improving customer loyalty. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, the hard part is actually committing to the branding process itself. This begins by ensuring you have a strong corporate culture, an established messaging system that resonates with your audience, well-defined touchpoints and a delivery system that can be executed on a consistent basis.
In the simplest of terms, the value of your brand acts the same to your company as equity does for homeowners. Value accrues over time until it eventually exceeds the original investment. The initial investment can only be weighed by considering the future reward, which is the brand equity you build over time.
Brand equity describes the value your customer places on your brand name, product or service. This value breaks down into terms that are often difficult to quantify since they deal with emotional, gut feelings. Terms like trust, reliability, and security are a few examples.
Your Promise Behind the Brand
We talk a lot about the promise Behind the Brand at Russo, and for good reason. It is at the core of successful branding, and it is the one thing that always keeps you connected to your target audience. Brand equity is only built through consistent delivery of your brand promise over time. The reward is improved customer loyalty and eventual brand advocacy – the true goal of a branding initiative.
When customers trust your brand and think of you before the competition, you will spend less time and money trying to convince them. Once this takes place, they will begin telling others how satisfied they are with your company, service or product, and gladly refer new customers to you, reducing the costs of prospecting. Brand equity also generates increased sales, since brand-loyal customers tend to buy the brands they trust more frequently. Successful branding can actually alter customer behavior when executed properly.
In the end, your bottom line is further improved when your customers begin to value not only what you provide, but also in how you provide it. When your business is perceived to be a trustworthy, quality brand, customers are usually willing to pay more to purchase your product or service. Brand “intangibles” including trust, reliability, and security, add pure monetary value in the minds of your audience. This gives you the opportunity to avoid the commodity price wars trap that can so easily devalue a brand’s worth.
According to a survey by Lippincott Mercer Research, “About one-third of current corporate share value at any one time is based on brand-related issues—including reputation, familiarity, culture and other brand characteristics.”
For all of these reasons, B2B companies should regard branding as a “must” in their business and marketing plans. In fact, branding should drive all business decisions. A strong brand not only requires top-to-bottom understanding of every facet of the company, it also guides decision-makers toward intelligent choices that will help grow the business over time – from hiring the right people, to developing the best products, to acquiring the most productive partners. The entire business strategy should be built around the concept of building the brand.
That being said, branding is not a bandage to be slapped on a faltering business plan, or a cure-all for a company whose products or services fail to meet the needs of the marketplace. But correctly developed, supported, and used as the driving force for business development, successful branding can not only elevate companies to the top of their industries, but keep them there for years to come.
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