Building a brand requires entrepreneurship, especially in B2B markets. In our experience this entrepreneurship is often lacking, since companies focus too much on procedures and systems to improve their workflow. We feel that managing directors, marketers and communication specialists should work together in order to innovate, create and, most of all, determine the goal of companies. A unique vision, one that distinguishes your company from the rest, makes sure that you are in control of the future. But this does require the commitment of everybody working for you!
The way we see it, there are four boxes a winning brand has to tick: they have an ultimate goal; they develop or developed a great idea; they have courage and they are an inspiration for other brands in their market. That is why we always advice our clients to put a small ‘brand team’ together. Because it might look like a good thing that everybody in the company is allowed to voice their opinions on all kinds of decisions, but all these opinions usually smother innovative thinking and initiative. A small team of selected members is able to move swiftly and make effective decisions. Having guts, direct communication and being decisive are essential for a strong approach to your market.
Developments and Trends
To facilitate clients in determining their way to success Admix confronts them with six leading trends in B2B:
• First of all, clients have trouble making clear choices when deciding on the course their company will take.
• Secondly we see a lack of differentiation between companies and brands. Most companies think they are more unique than they really are, they overestimate their distinctiveness.
• A third point is that the greater part of their communication efforts is not aimed at the receiver of their message. B2B is known for its difficult buying processes. It is not all about hard sales, but about trying to seduce your potential customers. And that starts with defining your brand.
• Fourth, we see a much changed media landscape. There are so many channels that the medium becomes a means to an end while the actual message becomes less important. Companies should find out why their brand is interesting for their target groups before they put together content and before they decide on the channels they will use. This is also valid for sustainability and corporate social responsibility, thus coming to trend number five.
• Before you start to advertise this, you first have to ascertain whether this is one of the inner drives of a company, and whether it is part of your brand profile.
• And last, but not least, we see a shift in the way companies provide information. Instead of purely commercial they use a more journalistic approach to communicate about their brand. Transparency is key, do not only tell them about your product or service but also show them who is behind it, show them who you are and that you are genuinely trying to help them making the right decision in a difficult matter.
A Change in Mentality
Each partnership between Admix and a client starts with gathering information on the market and target groups. Information on the use of media is analysed, and research is conducted amongst customers and employees. A logical next step often is their Brand Workshop, a good way to get to know the organisation, their employees and thus the DNA of the brand. Our first goal is to let clients take a different approach to the way they see themselves. We use the six before mentioned trends as a mirror. After that we work on making essential choices and defining their ultimate goal. During this process we try to instigate a change in mentality. First within the management layer of a company but ultimately throughout all layers of employees. That is the way to start a new business course.
It all comes down to making a plan and sticking to it. You see it in all markets, B2B as well, that people have become used to being pampered and expectations are usually high. Being a remarkable brand gives you a head start on competitors. To keep developing your brand is a basic requirement for companies who want to be successful in the long run. Everyone working for an organisation, from office manager to managing director, has to know what the company’s goal is. Companies who are unable to make such choices will always be stuck with random, aimless campaigns. And will thus never live up to their potential. For our customers we always aim for the top. We want them to fulfil their potential.
Michel de Bruin is Managing Director at Admix in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
This piece was produced as part of thenetworkone’s B2B essay collection . To download the full collection, click here.