How to manage B2B brands in a response-driven culture
Especially in early-stage businesses, proactive brand management often isn’t a high priority or isn’t strongly/actively managed as it would be with consumer products. Some of this may come down to the presumed, pragmatic nature of the product, its market and the end customers. More of it could be the priorities and background of a sales, lead generation and response-driven marketing team and leadership group.
But whether you manage your brand actively or not, brand happens. The market, your customers, your potential investors, your employees – they will develop their own perspective on who you are and what you represent if you don’t lead them in a particular direction.
Consistent brands can accelerate not just awareness and preference, but response and conversion. That’s the lesson for response-driven B2B marketers who forgo brand development in lieu of the next campaign or offer.
If you don’t have dedicated resources to manage your B2B brand, there are still several things you can do to ensure passive, consistent and successful brand development. Here are four steps to get started:
1. Create and publish guidelines
Take the time up front to develop a positioning framework, consistent look and feel requirements, tone attributes and keywords. Be explicit about what’s required and what’s a guideline for execution. Share the framework with the entire organization (not just the marketing team) to ensure everyone has the tools to execute consistently.
2. Secure executive sponsorship
The CEO needs to be behind the brand effort. Even if the organization continues to be response-driven, the CEO and (ideally) entire leadership team needs to buy into why brand is important, and help enforce it across the team.
3. Designate brand advocates
Each functional marketing team (acquisition, retention, etc.) as well as each other customer-facing team (sales, customer service, billing/collections, etc.) should have a designated brand advocate that helps ensure consistency.
4. Balance brand with action and testing
Continue to have a bias for action, test aggressively, and keep your organization focused on metrics, response and sales. But allow the day-to-day decision-making to be balanced by the needs of the brand. It’s not a win or lose game. It should be a balancing act. This may take some practice, but it will accelerate your results in the long run.