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18th January 2021

Brand Strategy: 5 principles to help build your most valuable selling-tool

In marketing, few topics are discussed as much as brand strategy.

Be it the importance of tone of voice, the need for a ‘brand mission’ or the merits in ‘storytelling’— B2B and B2C marketers alike are endlessly pouring over ways to make their brand as effective a selling-tool as possible.

It should come as no surprise, then, that in 2020 Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey saw brand strategy labelled marketing leader’s most vital strategic capability, ranked highest by 33% of Chief Marketing Officers.

So, in recognising just how valuable brand strategy is to organisations, Silver’s strategy team wanted to share 5 key principles that help guide their thinking and can help you ensure your brand delivers the best results for your organisation.

Brand is the biggest driver of long-term profit and growth for an organisation

Principle One: ‘Be patient’

The first principle when it comes to brand strategy is simple: be patient— brand is an investment, not a quick fix. Just 4% of B2B marketers measure the impact of brand building campaigns beyond six months— but this is a mistake.

Brand is the main driver of long-term profit and growth for an organisation. This means any quantifiable business returns from brand-building won’t always be immediately obvious— although this doesn’t mean they aren’t there. As a result, only those measuring the impact of brand-building in the long-term are likely to truly realise its value.

Remember, when it comes to brand-building, good things come to those who wait.

Principle Two: ‘Don’t be scared of emotion’

Good brand strategy taps into how people feel. And this is no less true in B2B than it is in B2C marketing. In fact, a study by Google found that B2B customers are actually more emotionally connected to vendors and service providers than consumers are to B2C brands.

And this makes sense. Because whilst the companies you sell to may look faceless from the outside, peel that back and you’re still talking to people— people who make decisions based on emotions, fears, hunches and ‘gut feeling’.

Remember: People may not remember what you said, but they remember how you made them feel.

In a survey of 9,000 B2B buyers, 86% saw no difference between suppliers

Principle Three: ‘When others zig, zag’

No matter the category, it’s likely that your brand is fighting against tens- if not hundreds- of others for the same share of voice, wallet and search. As a result, building a distinctive brand is crucial to standing out.

But whilst ‘brand distinctiveness’ is a trait usually only talked about in B2C, it’s equally (if not more) important in B2B. Why? Well, in a survey of 9,000 B2B buyers, 86% either saw no difference between suppliers or didn’t value a difference enough to pay for it. What’s more is that in the technology industry, 60% of buyers look for peer-to-peer reviews to aid their decision-making process.

So, if your brand isn’t distinctive or memorable enough, you’re missing out on the chance to firstly, give people a reason to choose your brand and secondly, encourage them to share it among their peers.

People may not remember what you said, but they remember how you made them feel.

Principle 4: ‘Build something you’re proud of’

Strong brands aren’t just about what’s on the outside— they have enormous impact inside an organisation too. Here, not only does a brand act as an operational North Star to help guide decision-making, it also can make employees feel more engaged with the company.

This internal engagement is crucial for organisations, given that firstly, engaged employees are 21% more profitable to a company than their less engaged colleagues, and secondly, sales professionals are 20% more productive when actively engaged in their company’s brand.

So, when developing a brand strategy, don’t forget to listen to those inside an organisation too— as well as outside.

Principle 5: ‘Have a story to tell’

And finally, brand isn’t just what you look like— it’s also the story that connects your business to customers. The best brands have stories, be it who they are, what they stand for or where they come from. Not only do these stories provide a platform from which the rest of your communications can hang, but they prove to be 22 times more memorable than facts.

Again, you really can’t underestimate the power of emotion in B2B brand strategy.

Conclusion

So, there we have it. Silver’s 5 key principles that help guide our thinking when it comes to brand strategy. Stick with these, be patient and you’ll be able to build a strong brand that drives growth and profits for years to come.