How Shifting Business Strategy Can Break a B2B Brand

Posted on by Jonathan Paisner
An evolving business strategy can cause problems for a B2B brand.

When an organization pivots and goes through a metamorphosis, it can be challenging for a B2B brand to catch up. Sometimes, the portfolio, the messaging and the customer journey lag behind the new strategy.

A number of factors can break a B2B brand—as we recently discussed, a lack of attention can cripple marketing strategies. But sometimes, there is great attention being paid to the brand to refashion itself, and turning the ship doesn’t always happen without waves. Here’s a few tips to recognize issues, and what you can do to fix them.

Symptoms

  • Message complexity: As sales messages, internal strategy messages and marketing communications work overtime to weave the old story to the new, a seemingly simple promise can get weighed down in complexity.
  • Excessive sub-branding: For those groups more on the cutting edge side of the business, the “traditional” brand may not cut it anymore – so they feel the need to create some sexy new sub-brand to capture this new story. As we discussed in the last article, this can establish internal precedent and, before long, lead to a rather messy product portfolio.
  • Misalignment: The brand is an expression of what the business strategy was three years ago, not reflective of the strategy today and the perceptions you need to build now for the future.

More on B2B Branding:

Causes

  • The story has become harder to tell. Whether by acquisition or organic growth, new parts of the company are now unfamiliar to a significant number of employees. People tend to gravitate to the familiar, so their version of the company may paint more a picture of yesterday than tomorrow.
  • Confusion abounds: There may be an internal perception that the corporate brand doesn’t have market permission to extend into some of the new areas emerging in the business. Used sparingly, sub-branding can help get over this hump, but this tactic can inhibit the brand’s ability to stretch into new markets and turn skepticism of the corporate brand into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Cures

  • Find the connective tissue. The link may not be in what the company does, but there are likely other areas of commonality—a common purpose or a common approach—that can unify internal teams.
  • Measure perceptions of the brand. Consider the associations that customers or prospects have with the brand. Understand where the B2B brand falls short and undertake initiatives to boost perceptions along key attributes with thought leadership, customer events or communications initiatives.
  • Don’t be shy. There may be an opportunity to take a more aggressive approach. If this evolution is truly a watershed in the company’s history, a rebranding initiative can help to harness the change and galvanize internal and external audiences alike.

In the next part of this series, learn the telltale signs your brand has grown old before its time.

Jonathan Paisner is the founder and principal of BrandExperienced.

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