B2B brands that are confusing, misaligned, antiquated or irrelevant don’t get prospects’ attention. Left unchecked, a brand can break, and become a hurdle rather than an asset.
What are the warning signs of broken brands? There are several, including declining sales, ceding market position to competitors, doubt in the minds of partners and customers and fewer inbound. This can lead to challenges in recruiting, siloed information and a range of other symptoms. In short, a broken brand is not conducive to a company’s health and long-term growth.
Like anything else, brands suffer with inattention. And, as a brand withers, it sparks a cycle of activity that can hasten further deterioration. If the corporate brand becomes less relevant, internal teams look to invest in new names or sub-brands at the expense of the corporate brand, or, they may leverage partner or ingredient brands in lieu of their own. In some cases, there may simply be a variety of day-to-day communication that just don’t get addressed.
Symptoms of Inattention
- Sub-brand proliferation. For B2B companies – especially those with limited marketing budgets – fewer brands (or even one master brand) drive efficiency in communication and in relationship building or cross-selling. It becomes cumbersome if every new product or technology has its own name or brand.
- Brand dissonance, either visually and/or verbally. This can manifest in multiple formats and styles on PowerPoint slides, sales collateral from different parts of the company looking and sounding very different or internal solution teams looking and sounding like separate companies.
- Misalignment across sales and marketing messages. At the extreme, marketing is touting the bleeding edge while sales is highlighting applications built on Windows 95.
More on B2B Branding:
Causes of Inattention
- Again, sub-brands are a problem, as they diffuse and weaken the promise of the corporate brand.
- The message and story is controlled by partner brand or ingredient brand.
- Short-term objectives incentivize competitive “arms races” around pricing or incremental feature-enhancements at the expense of bigger, more sustainable points of differentiation.
- Inefficient brand management resources drive internal teams to customize brand assets to their own needs
- Tools and templates. Standardized communication tools can leverage common visual and verbal language while allowing for necessary flexibility across teams.
- Prune the brand portfolio. Use brand equity research to help simplify the portfolio to better address the needs of your customers.
- Decision tools. Model different scenarios to guide decision making around naming, sub-branding and co-branding.
- Establish protocols. Create guidance and processes to govern naming, sub-branding.
- Measure perceptions of the brand. This needs to happen both internally and externally.
- Actively manage the brand. Grow internal understanding for the importance of a strong brand—and make sure someone has the responsibility, authority and support make a strong brand come to life.
Next week, we’ll look at how shifting brand strategies can break B2B brands, and what you can do to fix it.