Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cut B2B Branding Guesswork With a Methodical 5 Step System

Note: This is the second in a four-part series of guest posts on B2B branding strategy and website design from Rebekah E. Donaldson ("Red") and Cris Rominger of B2B Communications.
An intuitive, user-focused web site begins with an intuitive, user-focused brand. To arrive at such a brand, be systematic.

Branding is about building a perception, and B2B buyers expect a strong business brand. Indeed, business decision makers are a special audience when it comes to branding.

As mentioned earlier, when a purchase affects a company’s operations, productivity and bottom line, the risk of a wrong decision is high. Often, the selling proposition is complex and there are multiple influencers – each one sizing you up from a different angle.

Five step system

These five steps can help you get to the right endpoint, for the right reasons:

Understanding current perceptions

The first step in B2B branding is to identify any gap between your current and desired market positioning.

Scoping out competitors with relevant positioning

Usually, clients need to take into account other companies with relevant market positioning. This is true even if a company is a startup trying to create a new category.

Stating the difference

Building on the info you gathered about competitors, you can compare your desired positioning with current perceptions among clients and others. I’ve found it can be a painful process for some clients. The upside is that making a matrix to compare current and desired perceptions should help highlight your perceived strengths along with opportunities to improve.

The next part, succinctly stating your difference, may be tricky. The point is to make a short statement about the value you bring, one that is clear and compelling for your specific audience.


This is key: Identify a name, tag line, concept, shape, and color that can symbolize your top differentiator. In my experience, literal, descriptive names are better than odd ones.

• “Eco-Friendly Packing and Storage” tells me what you do and what’s different about it.
• “Z-32 Cromulescense” doesn’t give me a clue.

(In fact, often when I encounter company names like the one in the second example, my reaction is, “Skip it. If you’ve picked a name that’s obscure versus erring on the side of clarity, that doesn’t bode well for other communications with your firm.”)

There are exceptions, of course. But if you’re a small company, think of how you’ll appear at a glance, in the context of a directory listing or list of conference sponsors. Prospects need to understand instantly the type of service you offer, to become interested enough to learn more. And to be reassured, often subconsciously, that your firm thinks about things from the customer perspective.


Test the name, tag, value prop, logo with your clients and partners. Test them again. And again.

Contact: Red(at)

Previous: B2C Versus B2B - Is There Really Any Difference?
Next: Make sure your logo can handle the job at any size



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