There is a constant debate on how much companies ought to invest in brand development strategy, and what the ROI on such an investment would be. I tend to agree that small and medium-size businesses should not invest in campaigns just for branding, because branding has long-term benefits where small businesses are usually looking for short-term benefits. Nevertheless, it is instrumental that your brand would project a coherent look and feel, a firm message, and an image that perfectly corresponds with your offering.
Effective Branding Guidelines
1) Make your brand memorable- Business-to-business products and services are often very complex. Make sure your branding simplifies and captures the concept so that your target market can easily remember your business.
2) Ensure your branding is consistent- Implement your branding across all your marketing materials, including your website, business cards, promotional materials, etc. Always present your offering in the same way, so that over time your target client can identify the same message whatever the media.
3) Differentiate yourself from the competition- Through your branding, use your positioning strategy to emphasize what makes you stand out from the competition and why your offering is better than others.
4) Offer clear benefits- Business-to-business purchasing decisions are mostly performed based on rational decisions. Be crystal clear as to the benefits of your offering.
5) Build your relationships- It is your responsibility as a vendor to develop a relationship with your client. The closer the relationship you establish, the more loyal your clients will be. Branding is building a relationship in the mind of your client.
So what is the expected outcome from following these branding guidelines? Why should we invest in a brand development strategy?
Business-to-business companies with strong branding will enjoy:
1) A dramatically shorter sales cycle- Branding brings greater trust in a company, with less time needed to close a deal.
2) Higher pricing- Clients will be more willing to pay premium prices and less sensitive to price increases
3) An established industry signature- Your offering will dictate some of the mandatory purchase criteria
4) Product/service inclusion in the initial top short list, sometimes, without extensive sales push activity
It is true that branding takes time to effect, but by starting in very small steps you can soon see the difference. Check with me how to succeed in doing so.