Is Your B2B Brand Old Before Its Time?

Posted on by Jonathan Paisner

Sometimes, a B2B brand withers due to inattention. Occasionally, the message might get lost in translation as a company’s business strategy evolves. In other instances, a B2B brand simply doesn’t age well—and external issues are as much to blame as internal problems.

How can you tell that your brand is no longer a fit for the market, and what can you do to turn it around?

Symptoms

    • Tired language. Maybe the tagline has become dated, or the name is built on a term that has long lost its luster. People in the company likely say things like “I can’t believe it still says that on our website.”
    • Visual identity constraints. The logo and identity system don’t have the flexibility to translate into social or digital applications. While corporate brands should be loathe to follow every trend, needs, language and sensibilities do change—and communications have to keep pace.
    • Lost leadership. From yesterday’s leader to today’s laggard, perceptions around the company have shifted and the market no longer considers the company a leader.
    • The company is not getting the credit for the level of technology and innovation does exist – leading to lower valuation among investors and lower esteem in the market.

More on Fixing B2B Brands:

Causes

  • Perhaps growth has been spurred by a small number of tight relationships and strong sales teams. The brand never had to work too hard—and over time investment in the brand just slowed to a halt.
  • Lack of centralized marketing leadership. A nice brand with all the bells and whistles and resources was created some time ago—but then the central marketing function was dissolved and there is no longer anyone truly in charge of the brand. Thus, there are no budget lines to keep the brand fresh and relevant.
  • Business strategy and brand strategy not in sync. If marketing does not have a seat at the table in the development of corporate goals and objectives, it is only a matter of time for “what we say” to diverge from “what we do.”

Cures

  • This is a brand crying to be refreshed. If they’ve succeeded with a weak brand, it is a good chance they’ve got a strong reputation to build upon. An overhaul to the brand can galvanize the work force and offer a new platform to reconnect with old clients.
  • Get everyone on board. Bringing sales, marketing and product teams together in a room will help uncover the range of challenges (and work-arounds) that have emerged—and it can be a great way to drive consensus and energy around a brand initiative.
  • Start small if you must. A simpler effort is always an option—maybe just an update of the visual assets and some tweaking of the tagline—but changing a bit here and a bit there can miss an opportunity to embrace the heritage while reaffirming a focus on the future.

Short of major meltdown or corporate crisis, most broken brands can be fixed. The corporate B2B brand, too, is a living, breathing asset that needs investment in time, money and emotional energy to survive and thrive. Every market is shaped by constant change—and only the strongest brands will be able to navigate and/or lead this change.

Jonathan Paisner is the founder and principal of BrandExperienced.

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