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We have worked with just about every business model in the B2B space over the past two decades. Be that professional services, manufacturing, architecture, commercial real estate or financial services. With such a vast sampling, we’ve picked up some valuable insights into successful B2B brands along the way.

This article is meant to help CEOs, marketing managers and B2B business owners begin to think about their company value proposition, their ability to differentiate and how they might leverage a strong brand to build their business.

Defining brand

‘Brand’ may be the most ubiquitous and misunderstood business term in today’s B2B environment. For the purposes of this document, we will start with Walter Landor’s definition.

“Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.”

This is ultimately saying that the typical tangible brand assets that the majority of the public think of when hearing the word ‘brand’ (name, logo, product, advertisement) can be effectively managed by a marketing department, but the brand itself is created by the individual customer/user. From the experience a customer has with a sales rep to the receipt of an invoice, each interaction with a company builds a perception and expectation in the mind of the consumer. This makes a brand connected to every aspect of your business. Managing this perception is especially crucial for B2B companies. Let’s look at some numbers:

As you can see, while a majority (77%) of B2B marketing professionals recognize the importance of brand perception, they are missing critical tools essential to shaping that perception, and therefore influencing audiences.

Let’s take a deeper look at the invaluable process that strong brands follow in order to shape audience perceptions.

Gathering critical insight


39% of B2B marketers see the inability to reach the right people as
their biggest obstacle 5

While it may seem like common sense, understanding your target audience is essential to effectively marketing to and interacting with these individuals.  This is even more true for the B2B space, an industry notoriously fueled by relationships. This includes referrals, events and gatherings. You meet, you greet and try to engage with executives and decision makers that clearly need your services.

That said, these business development tactics are futile if you are not communicating with your target audience in a way which resonates with the individual. A more comprehensive understanding of your audience is essential. This can be accomplished through:

  • Interviews/surveys of current and/or former customers
  • Reviewing social media interactions and feedback
  • Studying online reviews and/or critiques

With this insight, you can then document each of your target audience personas (executive,
buyer, user, etc.) and leverage that information to help create a brand you know will resonate
with each of them.


The world we live in continues to get smaller. Today’s average consumer has immediate access to endless information, products and services. As such, businesses in a given industry are in near constant competition with one another.

The B2B space is no different. In most cases, your B2B company is competing with a sea of similar businesses offering similar services. That being said, no two businesses are exactly alike or function in exactly the same way. It is important to understand how your competition is differentiating themselves. An audit should be conducted of the 4-5 key competitors you routinely encounter. This audit consists of reviewing the following:

Marketing websites and sales materials

  • Note their content architecture, how they position their services, their people and their pricing.
  • Review their team page. Do they showcase all of their people, or just their leaders?
  • How do they describe their services?
  • Do they lead with benefits or just stick to features?
  • Do they specialize in a certain service, expertise or market?

Language and design

  • Do they use a unique tone of voice or stick with standard jargon?
  • Have they made design decisions which differentiate them from the pack?
  • Is there an overuse of stock photography?
  • Have they done anything to differentiate their team?

Clients and target audiences

  • Who do they work with?
  • Do they target specific personnel within a customer’s business?
  • Do they specialize in a certain revenue level or have a broad client base?


B2B Companies can establish credibility for their brands by embracing and living by their values 6


A brand promise is a simple, yet powerful representation of the primary value offered by a company to its stakeholders, employees, vendors and clients. A single statement which drives every aspect of business, marketing, sales and office culture.


“The reputation of a company (its brand by any other name) is so important that it could account for 50%…of the buying decision” 10

The next step is to focus on defining brand positioning. Your positioning dictates how that brand promise is communicated to your target audience and will serve as the genesis for all marketing and sales communications. These will in turn build your brand. Elements of a positioning include:

Brand design and communications

“One of the most commonly overlooked elements of a lead-generation engine is ‘The Big Idea’ – the creative expression” 11

With a thorough understanding of your target audiences, key competitors and a powerful promise and positioning, it is now time to bring the brand to life. Utilizing all insights and materials prepared thus far, it is time to engage a creative agency to create the outward expression of your company, also known as a brand expression.

The brand expression is the verbal and visual definition of your positioning. This includes both visual (logo, website, business papers, sales materials) as well as verbal (tagline, website content, social media tone, messaging) and even interactions customers have with your staff (greeting on phone, transaction with a bank teller, etc).

Your brand promise will ultimately serve as the connective thread for the expression of your brand. Creating a unique, yet unified presence across all platforms ensures that your audience builds confidence and trust through their various interactions with your brand.

Brand guidelines are another supportive document that are often used in tandem with the expression platform, which dictate brand and design standards for staff members to reference to ensure consistent, on-brand communications.


The importance of ‘Brand’ in the B2B space has become undeniable. That being said, it is essential to ensure an understanding of how a brand – and more importantly your brand – is defined. Focus first on understanding the industry, your competition, and your audience. From there, outline your core value points, identify a unique brand promise, and invest in a meaningful creative expression to fuel marketing and sales efforts.


  1. https://www.circle-research.com/wp-content/uploads/B2B-Branding-Research.pdf
  2. http://www.cmo.com/features/articles/2014/1/14/15_stats_B2B_marketers.html#gs.KklwYQs
  3. https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2017_B2B_Research_FINAL.pdf
  4. https://www.circle-research.com/wp-content/uploads/B2B-Branding-Research.pdf)
  5. http://www.cmo.com/features/articles/2014/1/14/15_stats_B2B_marketers.html#gs.NKhRq_Q
  6. https://www.emotivebrand.com/trust-barometer/
  7. https://slack.com/careers
  8. https://repositorio.ucp.pt/bitstream/10400.14/17246/1/Final%20Dissertation%20Maria%20Alves%20Pereira.pdf
  9. https://www.uber.com/newsroom/ubers-new-cultural-norms/
  10. https://www.socialmediamktg.it/2018/01/brand-as-assets-brand-positioning.html
  11. https://www.marketingmag.com.au/hubs-c/smes-daunt-mk0617/