So, your business isn’t selling the next hot consumer product, isn’t based in a big city and isn’t scaling up rapidly. The office doesn’t have a ping-pong table, or cereal bar or a CEO flaunting a hoodie. Regardless of whether you provide financial services or manufacture widgets, that’s not an excuse for bland or dormant branding.
The grit and skill needed to thrive in business isn’t enough to elevate your brand above the sea of competitors offering similar services at similar costs. Especially in unsexy, B2B industries, branding can differentiate a business. Yet, B2B businesses are the biggest offenders of neglecting branding because it’s tricky to establish a unique brand position in industries that aren’t inherently intriguing. As a result, those that take the time to strategically brand themselves will see greater dividends.
With a brand strategy that is authentic and effective, your business won’t need sex appeal. Consider the following four techniques for branding an unsexy business.
1. Emphasize your impact rather than your function
What you have to offer may not change the world or disrupt the status quo, but people still purchase it for a reason: it adds value to their lives. Pinpoint the impact of your product or service and capitalize on it. For example, a can of paint may not have any special features, yet it has the power to transform a space. Going off of this attribute, Rust-Oleum centered a campaign around the tagline, “This Changes Everything,” which inspired consumers to take on projects that can be achieved with Rust-Oleum products. Although it was a B2C campaign, B2B businesses can learn much from the strategy.
“Our insight was that people aren’t looking to use Rust-Oleum products,” said Lisa, Bialecki, senior director of integrated communications for Rust-Oleum, in an article by The Plain Dealer. “People are looking to improve their living spaces.”
By focusing on the product’s impact, the “This Changes Everything” campaign generated 107 million impressions and allowed consumers to establish an emotional connection with the Rust-Oleum brand. Not only did the campaign infect people with the do-it-yourself spray paint project bug, but it also encouraged users to share the results on Pinterest to keep the chain going.
2. Avoid an excess of meaningless buzzwords
Hyping up a brand with obscure language is a common mistake made by unsexy businesses attempting to make themselves seem more exciting. Doing so may confuse customers and even employees about your business’s identity. A beautifully scripted message is only effective if it makes sense and can be easily communicated. So, be sure to keep your branding clear and understandable to your target audience, even if that means keeping it simple. The Ohio Aerospace Institute membership program slogan, “Connect-Share-Succeed,” is just three words, yet it communicates the program’s purpose and promise without overcomplicating or exaggerating the nature of its services.
3. Appeal to your people
Branding for an overly broad audience may kill opportunities to resonate with those whom your product appeals to the most. Instead of trying to make your brand accessible to people who aren’t likely to buy it, research who and where your customers are, then construct your image around their demographics.
For instance, Tremco Roofing & Building Maintenance makes the most of its branding by keeping its reach narrow. Rather than simplifying technical terms so that its products are more accessible to a large, nonspecific group, Tremco taps into its target audience by using language that speaks directly to architects and facility managers. Furthermore, Tremco’s social media pages often depict a day in the life of roofers, maintenance workers, building managers and architects. These methods frame Tremco as a reputable provider that understands the industry.
4. Provide valuable, brand-driven content
What you sell to your customers may last them a few weeks, while what you teach them may last a lifetime. Producing helpful content such as informative blogs, webinars, how-to videos and podcasts to educate your customers can yield long-term brand awareness while positioning your business as the industry expert. Giving away a little knowledge for free could come back to you tenfold.
Consider how Evolution Capital Partners uses a blog to share tips for growing a small business. Although the firm offers professional advice for free, readers may recognize its capabilities and be more likely to return to Evolution when they are ready for an investment of growth capital. Moreover, providing valuable content reinforces Evolution’s brand narrative; it demonstrates that the team is passionate about helping entrepreneurs reach their maximum potential.
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