Berkeley Bytes Podcast 1: Broken B2B Tech Brands
Welcome to the first edition of the Berkeley Bytes Podcast, presented by Dan Bowsher and Laura Pride, Director of Strategy at Berkeley Communications. This post is an edited transcript of the chat but you can click on the link below to hear the full episode.
In a recent blog post our CEO, Chris Hewitt, wrote about mission statements and some of their pitfalls and that got us thinking about the role and value of branding in B2B comms, how you establish it and the challenges of establishing brand value are.
From speaking to clients and prospects at Berkeley, something everybody is talking about is the importance of being able to cut through the noise, particularly on digital and social channels to reach their target audience.
Their ultimate aim is to better engage with their audiences, whether they’re B2B or B2C, in a meaningful way.
That’s not necessarily because everyone wants to instantly drive a sale or a lead or create revenue.
It’s more about building brand awareness and being seen as a leader in their field, which can be really tricky if the brand message isn’t aligned.
Often different departments across a business – sometime teams within departments – communicate different messages to the outside world. Aligning the message is quite a challenge unless it’s being driven from the top down.
So, my key thing is to always think and ask those above you in the pecking order what they’ve engaged with today.
- Did they clicked on a blog?
- Have they looked at an email that’s been sent to them as part of a CRM Campaign?
- Have they liked something on LinkedIn?
And if they have, what was it that made them engage with it? Because that’s exactly what your branding and messaging will be doing. It’s trying to fight for someone’s attention. You have to use the same principles that you apply as a recipient of marketing materials in your own right.
So effectively, look at external examples to better understand how you need to position yourself and your business. When you’ve understood that, how do you start to then apply that to driving meaningful engagement for your own brand?
Well, as we’ve just eluded to, you have to know what your brand is so you can communicate your message effectively.
What’s the story you need to tell? Whether it’s a prospect or your own employees – often internal comms fights the same battle to engage its audience – the story has to be consistent. That’s really where a business can be successful.
What complicates things is that, in the B2B world, there’s a lot of jargon, technical terms and acronyms to muddy the waters.
You’re already fighting to get someone’s attention, so if you then communicate in language that’s only relevant to your sector, you risk alienating them.
A really good brand and comms message is based on that knowledge of what the brand stands for, the space they own and how they communicate it effectively. And everybody has to be aligned to be able to do that. Coming from a journalistic background, I always say a simple test is to ask why anybody should care?
Brands often think ‘we’ve done something great’ but is it amazing to the rest of the world? And, if so, why? It’s that ‘Why’ that engages people. It’s not necessarily the big figure or a great partnership, but what it means for the rest of the world.
That sounds brilliant, but it also sounds really expensive. It sounds like you’re talking about potentially overhauling an entire brand and that’s going to make a lot of people wince, is that true?
Not necessarily. All it involves is asking someone who doesn’t work in your business – a lay person -what they understand your brand to represent. What does it mean to them?
It can start with a conversation or two. It doesn’t need to be an expensive market research project.
Internally, ask employees something simple like, “Can you sum up what this business does in a sentence?”
You’ll probably get 50 different responses from as many people, but that’s where you start to see if the messaging is clear.
It’s vital that you do your market research and, on top of that, look at what your competitors are doing; Who is successful in this space? Why do we not own more of this space?
Successful companies have a clear aligned message, internally and externally. Think about the big companies and brands you now that work. They have a strapline, we all know them.
And it can be exactly the same for a tech company, regardless of its size.
It’s about knowing what you do and making sure everybody in the company and all your external communications have that same message. Aligning the brand doesn’t have to be expensive.
And is there a sort of structure that people can follow that can help them to identify that?
It’s really simple. Just ask the right questions.
Are you happy with the way people describe your brand? If you aren’t then obviously you need to do something to change that.
Does your brand proposition relay what your business does more effectively and distinctly than your competitors? If you’re working against a brand that owns a lot of space, you have to think about what you do well that’s different.
How can you use it to highlight the value or point of distinction you offer to customers.
And, last but not least, do other people agree with it? That’s really crucial. You can’t do this exercise in a vacuum, especially when it comes to getting buy in from budget holders to deliver any re-branding.