The 8 steps those in B2B and professional services should follow to deliver brand growth, in the new normal.

Ben Paul
November 16, 2020

Every B2B Business is looking to achieve brand growth. Whether you are a brand-new business or an established one, the value and importance of your brand has arguably never been more key. The global pandemic and ensuing recession means that many business owners, boards, and those in the C-Suite are understandably looking at reducing costs to preserve jobs and profit. However, if you’re considering saving money on your brand and advertising, I’d strongly urge against this. As the old adage goes:

“When times are good you should advertise.

When times are bad you must advertise.”

Beyond this catch-phrase is the 2010 study that the Harvard Business School and the Kellogg School of Management conducted, which showed that short term cutting of advertising and marketing spend, did, understandably, protect profit in that year. However, in the long term, the reduction in brand growth and brand awareness, meant the brand required significant investment in future years to repair the loss of prominence, and also to increase revenue growth post-recession.

The details of the study also showed that those organisations who “thrived post-recession weren’t the ones that turned to dramatic and deep cost-cutting,” as Stephen Allan notes, in this excellent article.

Therefore, it’s pretty clear that to build long-term sustainable growth, and to steal a march on your competition, now is the time to invest in your brand. Brand growth is key for any B2B business or professional services firm to thrive.

To assist you with this, I’ve asked Jeff Watkins from brandmedia, to outline his 8 steps to developing, building, and delivering brand growth, in the new normal.

 The 8 steps to deliver brand growth

1. Vision & Inspiration 

The most successful brands first start with a vision, this is the foundation of the brand. In other words what is your WHY? What is it that drove you to start the business in the first place, and what is the ultimate GOAL?  Once you have a purpose and goals in place, you can then start shaping your vision accordingly. Your vision is more like the visual representation of your rebrand and the feeling you hope to inspire with it.

2. Meaning & Purpose

The best brands stand for something, they have purpose. An idea, a position, values, a choice that stands apart. A purpose serves two objectives. One, it unifies everyone in that business to work together towards a common goal.  And two, it provides a clear message to your target audience and clients around what you do, and what you stand for. Without this, you’ll never achieve real brand growth.

What do you want to accomplish with this new brand and what changes do you want to see? It may be drawing a different crowd to your products/services, or, creating a new image for your company that sets you apart from your competitors. Make sure you have a specific and defined purpose so that you can put structure around your rebrand, and stay on track with success.

3. Authenticity & Clarity 

Authenticity is not possible without an organisation having clarity about its market, positioning, value proposition, and competitive edge. Authenticity is gold dust. It makes you and your brand trustworthy.

4. Differentiation & Unique Positioning 

Differentiation through authenticity and clarity allows positioning to be unique and different, staging for success.

For many in multi-service professional services firms, this can be difficult. You’ll need to go beyond the technical expertise you provide and focus on the markets and sectors you work in. It will also pay to understand how you provide your end to end service, what the customer experience looks like, and how you’ll measure it. This will allow you to maintain it, and provide differentiation by experience, not just technical expertise. True innovation also provides differentiation. And differentiation fuels brand growth.

8 Steps Brand Growth

5. Coherence & Recognition 

Consistency does not need to be rigid or limiting in order to feel like one company, but it must contain similar attributes in order to remain consistent, and communicate coherence.

Even though you are changing a lot of elements of your brand, there are still many elements that you should preserve—in particular, your tone and language. People will enjoy fresh new colours and graphics, but will not enjoy feeling like they no longer know you as a company. You may even want to preserve some of your design elements to help your audience with the transition. Brand consistency is important, so don’t overlook it even when rebranding.

6. Flexibility & Adaptability 

An effective brand identity positions a company for change and growth in the future. It supports an evolving marketing strategy and preparedness for the road ahead.

Rebranding is an opportunity to start with a blank slate and try out new marketing and communication strategies. You can compare metrics before and after the rebrand, or start fresh new experiments with new channels. 

Make your new brand stand out over the others by doing things no one else is doing. Try out some clever ad copy, build a stand-out social media profile, come up with a custom hashtag, or start incorporating more behind the scenes content into your posts. Start writing great marketing content and have a clear plan for consistency of delivery. All of this will really fire up your brand growth.

7. Commitment & Promise

Organisations need to actively manage their brand assets, including the brand name, the trademarks, the integrated sales and marketing systems, and the standards.

To ensure the integrity of your brand it is imperative to maintain consistency with delivery, so invest in a comprehensive Brand Guideline document. Enabling all those involved with all marketing or signage to follow clear guidelines as to how colours, fonts, and imagery should be reproduced.

8. Value & Perception 

Building awareness, increasing recognition, communicating the uniqueness, quality, positioning, and expressing clarity through difference, creates measurable results ultimately leading to brand trust through perception. Brand trust is one of the key factors in increasing revenue and delivering brand growth.

Think about the vendors you use to market and run your business. Make sure you notify them with your new name and any other new information so they can update your account, and to avoid any confusion or billing errors. Other businesses will appreciate your attention to detail and your consideration of their side of things. Even better, if your vendors are also local businesses, you will be helping to strengthen the community and its connections.

Why Rebrand?

Rebranding can be key to changing the direction of your company moving forward, and helping you to accomplish the new company goals you set. Have a clear vision and purpose in mind for your rebrand, and follow that path with confidence.

Rebranding is not an easy task to complete, and could hurt your company more than it helps it. Keep these 8 steps in mind when executing your own rebrand to assist with your company’s new transition. Brand growth will be achieved if you successfully follow and implement all 8 steps.

A Recent Re-Brand Project

The Fireplace in Mt Eden Auckland is a prime example of one of brandmedia’s success stories. Established back in the mid 80’s The fireplace was sold to the current owners in 2017 and it was quickly identified that a re-brand was essential to re-establish the business within the industry.

Brandmedia implemented the 8 Step strategy to take the business forward and to combat what had become an extremely competitive market. This included a targeted approach to the Architectural Sector, using a combination of direct face-to-face sales and email campaigns.

The Fireplace rebrand by Brandmedia example fo Brand Growth

This immediately saw a 22% increase in sales for the year and set the foundation to launch subsequent campaigns to their wider market. Brandmedia is currently involved in promoting the brand utilising social media and web-based campaigns. You can review the new brand in full on The Fireplace’s website.

About Jeff Watkins

Jeff Watkins BrandMedia author of the 8 steps for Brand Growth

Jeff is the owner of leading Auckland based design agency brandmedia and has many years’ experience in New Zealand, and London, in developing and creating effective brand strategies.

He has worked for several leading multi-national organisations as well as locally based SMEs, and owner-managed businesses.

Find out more about Jeff on brandmedia’s website or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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