[CASE STUDY] B2B is rarely considered sexy or even exciting, yet for B2B buyers great solutions radically improve their day to day working environment and hold the potential to make or break their businesses. Why then shouldn’t it be possible to create a strong emotional connection with your buyers through B2B marketing and communication? After all your services or equipment is part and parcel of their professional aspirations, challenges and ultimately their businesses success in the marketplace and beyond.
This case study offers 6 ways to check whether your brand story is off target and 3 takeaways for how to improve your connection to decision makers with emotional branding.
Case Study: What do buyers want?
Perhaps one of the reasons we so rarely see compelling B2B branding is that B2B is often driven by engineers, and engineers are taught to make well-considered, rational decisions. We should all be thankful to that as we need their rational decisions in order to construct buildings, bridges and other infrastructure so that it works safely and effectively. However, when it comes to making decisions about their business B2B buyers need more than facts and performance statistics. They want to connect to brands that understand their challenges and how their offering relates to their business, even better, they want to connect to companies that shares their aspirations and want to see change just as bad as they do.
Take Danish manufacturer of sonar gear, transducers, and hydrophones RESON as a case study. Their technical products might not be inherently interesting but it is high quality equipment of immense importance to its users. At the onset of the change RESON weren’t considered neither thought leaders nor particular involved by their community but the company set out to change that.
What was missing, they concluded, was a powerful brand story that could create consistent and compelling messages. Emotional branding was singled out as well: RESON ‘s Voice of Company was decidedly impersonal and hugely needed improvement. In the end what RESON came away from their research with was a better understanding of the aspirations and working environments of their customers. They noticed how most of their users (who) were setting out in harsh conditions and rough climate and placed enormous importance on high quality equipment and being prepared for the worst. RESON cleverly decided to use this insight to forge a brand story around the themes of explorers and expeditions which they used to totally rethink their site and communications – from then on they were addressing their community as proper explorers – the Cooks and Shackletons of our time. By clearly showing how they understood and shared their customer’s perspective and aspirations RESON ultimately emerged looking like a market leader by creating the industry’s most powerful Voice of Company.
Feel like sharing in the excitement? Below are 9 takeaways from the case study.
Is your brand boring? 6 ways to check whether your brand is off target:
Several specific opportunities for improvement were identified during RESON’s research and transformation:
• There was no clear emotional element to the brand — a key driver of human decision-making.
• The company’s brand DNA was undefined, meaning high costs and low impact when creating marketing campaigns and individual marketing elements.
• The tone and style of the company’s presence, as expressed through its website and marketing materials, was somewhat dated and not that different from its competitors.
• While the company wanted to be seen as a leader, there were few supporting signals other than propaganda-like statements such as “RESON is the world leader…”.
• Marketing messages and materials were company-centric rather than reflecting customer pains and priorities.
3 ways to improve your B2B branding efforts:
So, what were the results of RESON ‘s revamped Voice of Company? First, the clarity of the company’s new value proposition has made creating a consistent and on target content strategy around its messages far easier. Through it all, the new RESON Voice of Company brand story acts both as a source of inspiration as well as virtual glue that keeps all the company’s messages in a clear, logical context no matter where RESON and its products are encountered. At land or sea the users will always find a consistent brand story that relates emotionally to their perspective.
The RESON case study can teach marketers and brands looking to forge emotional connections to buyers several things about emotional branding – for your brand to make an emotional impact with buyers you need to:
• Understand your audience and aim to invoke or target specific emotions in them – your audience’s core emotional need is the most important aspect of emotional branding and has to permeate all your internal and external communications.
• Encourage customers to form an emotional bond to your brand. Start by considering your customers’ needs – what do they want, need and aspire to and be sure to communicate how your brand is a trusted partner in their journey towards fulfilment of those needs.
• Create a content strategy around these insights to deliver consistent communications centred on customers’ emotional needs. Every point of contact should reflect and reinforce the message that the brand is responding to its customers’ emotional needs.
I am not arguing a move back to the old world of branding, where it was only about the story, but often with little substance. But I do believe that a powerful story that gives your audience an emotional incentive and that backs up the truth of your capabilities will help make your offering and its benefits clear and memorable to the right people as part of an emotional branding strategy.
Your turn, does emotional branding have any place in B2B marketing – share your thoughts in the comments?