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In the B2B market, what does having a good brand entail? Is it simply copying the same logo from letterhead to emails? Or does it go deeper than that? What can you do as a company to truly utilize the strength of a well-rounded brand? You’ve already got a logo, identity or image associated with your brand, now it is time to do the heavy lifting and truly give it meaning. To do this, you must use both branding and positioning to place yourself directly into your target market’s line of attention.
Branding vs Positioning: How are they Different?
When thinking of what a brand encompasses, it can best be compared to the overall image the company puts forward of themselves. This includes their logo, statements, actions and everything they produce that people see. Whether internal associates or external customers, everyone should see the same brand imagery no matter what kind of material is being used. McDonald’s, for example, always has the same golden arches on every item they produce, from the paper wrapping for hamburgers to billboards. The overall identity encompasses more than the imagery and takes into account the way the company presents itself, and how its values are developed through its choices. But having a memorable brand is extremely important, because it allows consumers to easily recall your company, and gives you a chance to take control of a larger market. In the B2B market, companies with strong brand imagery also tend to do much better because they are more memorable than those without.
Positioning is the process of taking the total brand image and presenting it to the customer effectively so that they see your company from the view you want them to. Rather than focusing mainly on the statements made or images developed about the brand, positioning puts emphasis on presenting the value the company can bring to the customer. Positioning makes your brand appear favorable, different and credible to consumers. Another fast food company that can be used as an example, but excels with positioning, is Chipotle. For years, Taco Bell had dominated the Mexican fast food market because it had such low prices. That is, until Chipotle came into view for consumers and emphasized quality as their differentiating factor. They chose to switch the customers focus away from price, and have since gained a huge following of loyal individuals, because they knew exactly what image they wanted to position themselves in. They had an idea of which market would be interested in their product, and advertised heavily to them, focusing on the value they could bring to consumers.
Put Them Together Now
When used effectively together, branding and positioning can pose a huge benefit for a company. The first step, of course, is being sure to have a well-rounded brand image and identity. Develop the values of the company, and how you would like to show those. Work with professionals who understand how to create good brands, and have someone on the team dedicated to enforcing brand policies. Although it may not always feel enjoyable, sticking to a strict brand ensures consistency when delivering messages both inside and outside of the company. This consistency will create specific images and thoughts of your company within the heads of others. After having landed on a brand that you are happy with, you must learn how to position the value you will bring to the customer effectively. Consumers are likely to try something new maybe one time, but converting someone into a loyal follower can be very difficult. Make sure you know what your target group is looking for, and appeal directly to those interests when positioning yourself. The last thing that you need to properly position yourself to your target market is a foundational understanding of the competition you face and what makes you different comparatively. This difference is how you will set yourself apart from the rest of the herd.
Another company that has shown its skills with positioning is LUSH. LUSH cosmetics specializes in producing handmade goods for taking care of your skin and hair, facing competition from companies such as Sephora, Etsy, and other cosmetics retailers. They have set themselves apart, though, by delivering on their brand identity of sustainability and awareness of social issues. LUSH produces vegan products, and is targeting an audience of individuals who want to avoid animal-based products, as well as reduce their carbon footprint. The company has found a niche in the market place and is thriving because of its ability to efficiently deliver on promises, and bring value to the consumers.
What Your Customers Will See
In the B2B sector, differentiation is key, and the best way to make your company stand out is to have strong branding and positioning. Your customers will want to see your experience, how you’ve helped other businesses in the past and what kind of help you offered. Show the market you are targeting exactly what different aspects you are bringing to the table, and be able to openly communicate with them about these unique selling points. Consumers need the ability to connect with the company they are working with so they feel more valued and are more likely to stay committed to one brand. They will be more likely to choose you over competitors if you can demonstrate what you are doing that is forward thinking and innovative, as well. By developing a strong brand identity and positioning yourself to your segment well, you can set yourself far apart from the other companies. And when it comes to B2B markets, which are typically led by price, this differentiation and added value will bring more consumers to you.
For example, the company Salesforce has developed its brand over time and uses its customers’ successes on their own website to build into their identity. They are a B2B company that provides other companies with operational tools to guide them to success, and have been consistently growing due to how well they position themselves. They offer small businesses a real solution, and their brand name is now recognizable, giving them more leverage. This leverage can be obtained by you, too, if you can create a brand that stands out from the rest and position it to your customers in an innovative way.