In today’s digital world, there is very little difference between B2B and B2C branding. Ultimately, it’s still all about the customer. If you’re a B2C company, you’re usually face-to-face with an individual consumer. If you’re a B2B firm, you’re face to face with a team of consumers. Both B2B and B2C brands are focused on building long-term relationships, generating repeat business, and gaining their consumers’ trust.
B2B vs. B2C Branding
Business-to-business companies are primarily doing business with other companies, governments, or organizations. The marketing approach is more logic-centered, utilizing rational messaging.
Business-to-consumer brands are focused on selling directly to consumers. The marketing approach is more heart-centered, utilizing story-telling messaging designed to elicit emotional decision-making.
Really? Is it as simple as that?
In a Harvard Business Review article, “The B2B Elements of Value,” authors Eric Almquist, Jamie Cleghorn, and Lori Sherer write about the corporate purchasing decision paradigm. Bain consulting firm spent decades conducting quantitative and qualitative studies that focused on what matters most to B2B buyers. They identified 40 “elements of value” that they categorized within a pyramid of five categories:
- Table stakes
- Functional value
- Ease of doing business value
- Individual value
- Inspirational value
Bain’s studies prove that pricing and specifications matter, but so do issues of
- reputation (will the purchase protect or improve the buyer’s standing within the company and its reputation within its industry?)
- and social responsibility.
As B2B companies, it’s easy to brand your product or service in a way that addresses your target audience’s concerns about price, specs, functionality, and delivery. But, to address the more emotional and intangible elements, your marketing content will look similar to B2C brands.
It’s More Than Logic
It can’t be all logic; there is human emotion involved in purchasing decisions. B2B branding has to address the corporate rationality of the product or service. At the same time, it also has to build excitement and enthusiasm for what the buyer wants to achieve.
What’s the Difference Between B2B and B2C Branding?
B2B branding is more complex than B2C.
- More stakeholders are involved.
- The purchase process takes longer, and transactions are heavier.
- B2B brands can experience a marketing-to-sales cycle from weeks to years.
- B2B products are individualized and have a more defined purpose. The focus is on specifications and involves training, demos, and other long-term support services.
- You’ll work with several decision-makers, budgets, brand representatives, and legal processes before you make a sale.
A B2B Branding Strategy
Many B2B firms skip over the branding part of their marketing strategy or diminish its importance. But, in today’s world, a brand’s exposure ultimately reaches the end consumer, and that impression can be eternal.
Branding is the process of telling your story. As Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, said, “your brand is what they say about you when you’re not in the room.” You want to control that story.
Branding tells the world why you exist, what you represent, what you offer, what gap you come to fill, or concerns you address. Your brand creates an emotional bond between you and your customer so that you become the only choice.
With the proliferation of digital communication, branding has become more impactful than products and services. Decision-makers research online before they interact with you. You might deliver a technically fantastic product, but if your branding strategy is deficient or makes a blunder, your product or service will not sell.
Is there a Difference Between B2C and B2B Brand Trust?
Building trust in your brand is critical to your long-term success, and there is no difference between B2C and B2B companies when it comes to this.
Trust is the foundation of a long-term relationship.
If you’re a B2C company, you want your customers to return to you time and time again to purchase the same products or services or look for your newest offerings. B2B purchase decisions are more extensive and involve more decision-makers than those who saw your content. You don’t have a steady flow of customers flowing through your e-commerce or brick-and-mortar store. You serve a more targeted market. However, you also want repeat business. Lack of trust in your brand will put you out of business.
What Do You Need to Do If You’re a B2B Brand?
Create engaging content that elicits engagement, reactions, conversations, and shares, and deliver it through the websites and online platforms utilized by your potential customers (and their end-users). B2B companies should focus on Twitter and LinkedIn to reach corporate customers. LinkedIn is the premier channel for B2B companies, although B2C companies have found value in this platform too. LinkedIn is a powerful lead generator and is the most widely used professional social media channel by corporate leaders, influencers, and decision-makers.
Focus on Instagram and Pinterest to reach your customers’ end-users. Instagram and Pinterest are tools to build brand awareness and a preference for your product or service.
Your Brand Story
Produce SEO-optimized content such as articles, blogs, videos, e-books, and social media posts, to improve brand visibility and search engine ranking. Create branding imagery and stories that focus on how consumers’ lives are improved.
A difference between B2B and B2C branding is the language you use. B2B companies need to use corporate jargon.
A B2C brand creates content that appeals to the heart, designed to elicit an impulse decision. The content tells a story to draw the reader in and thereby develop the bond it’s looking for.
B2B copy is less heart-centered and more focused on building confidence in your product or service. Your target audience wants to improve their efficiency and overall business performance. They want to make lives easier for their employees. B2B copy will use words like “quality, measurable, efficient, cost-saving.”
The B2B relationship is built to withstand a long buying cycle. B2C consumers make purchase decisions more immediately and from a more heart-centered place. B2B consumers need to be sure that your product or service fits their business model and long-term strategic plan.
Your goal is to develop a long-term relationship that is impervious to changes in staff. You want your product or service delivery to grow and expand as your client grows and expands.
- The difference between B2B and B2C branding is very subtle.
- B2B and B2C brands have the same goals: market visibility, customer retention, consumer trust, converting potential customers into buyers.
- B2B brands want to improve their bottom line, but they also want to improve their customers’ bottom line.
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