According to research company Forrester, the buying behavior of B2B customers has changed. For 74% of prospects, fully half of the research process is now conducted online, before a purchase is made. That means there’s a lot more riding on your website and content. Interaction with your sales reps comes a lot later in the process, meaning your content has to do much of the heavy lifting when it comes to presenting your products and company. To push the pressure even higher, B2B buyers expect the same kind of ‘experiences’ in interacting with you online that they get with consumer offerings.
So the stakes are high. A strong corporate identity can serve as a framework and foundation, articulating all aspects of the way your organization is presented, from the voice used in your communications to your decision to use UK or US spelling.
But it takes time and resources to develop a strong corporate identity. Is it worth it? Here are 5 key points to consider:
1. It sends a clear message about your company’s commitment and stability.
A strong corporate identity sends a strong signal about your solidity and long-term potential to your prospects and customers. By taking the time and effort to create a strong corporate identity, you’re demonstrating that you’re in it for the long haul. You understand what it takes to compete in your markets, you’ve laid the groundwork for long-term success, and you intend to be around for a long while. What if you’re not a big player in your industry – yet? A strong corporate identity shows that you are confident, committed and have a long-term strategy and goals.
2. It unites and builds on your company’s strengths.
A scenario: You’re at an industry event, and the speaker lineup includes two people from the same company. But because they each use a different PowerPoint template, and only one has included a logo, the name of their organization barely registers. What a lost opportunity to reinforce thought leadership and build the company’s profile! When you have a strong corporate identity in place, with detailed guidelines on everything from presentations to typefaces, this kind of dissonance is avoided and opportunities to build reputation and awareness aren’t wasted.
3. It helps define your company’s strategy and goals.
Creating a strong corporate identity is a process. It includes articulating your company values, goals, mission and more. This can help you develop a clearer outlook on how your company wants to be viewed, where you want to go, and what you want to achieve.
4. It allows you to align your corporate identity all over the world.
Whether you provide a set of corporate identity guidelines or not, local sales reps and marketing teams are going to come up with some variation of your identity and logo in the regions and countries in which you’re active. If these local efforts don’t align with your corporate identity guidelines, you’re wasting money and effort, and sowing confusion. A strong corporate identity prevents people from ‘going rogue’, and implementing their own versions that diminish your overall strategy.
5. It helps you connect on an emotional level with buyers.
Remember ‘Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM?’ This axiom has been around for decades, but it still holds true. B2B purchasers can be overwhelmed – there are multiple choices, multiple elements to consider with each purchase, multiple representatives to deal with – it’s a lot to manage. A well-known brand offers a respite from the task of establishing the value of each potential selection. In fact, studies show that B2B buyers sometimes make an emotional decision based on the familiarity of a well-known brand, and then create a rationale to support it. Whatever the thought process, help your prospects by making your corporate identity as strong as possible, to evoke that familiarity and trigger or underpin a sales decision.
When it comes to creating online experiences and interactions that will support and reinforce our corporate identities, we can learn a lot from consumer marketing and B2C marketers, especially when it comes to building connections and enabling “surprise and delight” on the part of prospects. There are critical differences, though, to keep in mind for B2B. Download a checklist on the 4 key differences between B2C and B2B branding here to learn more.