Brand awareness and recognition are integral to building a strong reputation which is critical to creating credibility and customer loyalty. Credibility is of course key to closing deals quickly as well as increasing sales and therefore profitability. Corporate branding and demand gen often go hand-in-hand, especially when it comes to new business growth-phase companies.
Three reasons that business founders and stakeholders should demand expert brand marketing include:
1. The Importance of Credibility
Think about the big brands in business such as the Coca-Cola Company, Apple, Intel, Amazon and so on and so forth. These brands have strong credibility to back them and give them a competitive advantage within their specific industry.
Positioning a brand as a leader in the market is crucial for both startups and growth-phase businesses by leveraging the founder’s profile to develop positive brand perception to influence customer behaviour.
Executives like CEOs are the face of the company and thus play a pivotal role in establishing credibility for the business by leading by example. Employees are just as imperative to creating credibility and act as guardians of the brand, being responsible for maintaining the company reputation trough their actions and behaviours when interacting directly with existing and prospective clients and customers.
On the other hand, even the largest corporations suffer from credibility that is extremely fragile. For example, the gender bias and sexual harassment problems that are being experienced by Uber and the incident where a passenger was forcibly removed from his seat by United Airlines. Even the smallest negative incident can be extremely damaging to credibility and it can be costly to recover. However, a strong foundation in credibility can allow for a recovery from just about any catastrophe as long as the matter is dealt with with transparency, empathy and the problem is resolved as quickly as possible.
2. Investment Opportunity
Strong brands attract big investment. Businesses are in constant need of finance and investment in order to support the continued growth and expansion of a company. Major investors aren’t just interested in the products or services offered by the business but take a holistic view of the company. Apart from that all-important bottom line, they consider the corporate reputation of the company, credibility of founders and CEOs as well as future performance before making a decision.
Barbara Clarke, angel investor and co-founder and principal of Impact Seat says, “Investors often ask themselves whether they are looking at a product or a company. The brand needs to be greater than just the product and companies require depth that goes beyond focusing on just one product or solution at a time.”
Clarke also added some valuable information regarding the mistakes that startup companies often make. The biggest mistake is that the business is so in love with their product that they cannot see their problems. Building a brand on a product rather than on a problem will make it difficult to handle a pivot well. “If there is one thing that we all know about startups, they will pivot at some point.”
Having provided advice to many startups on how to change and rebrand, Clarke makes an important point. It is of primary importance to build a strong brand – a brand that customers have faith and trust in and leadership that they can depend on.
Think about a brand like your home. The more time, energy and money you invest in maintaining and renovating, the greater the value of the property. In the same way, the more you are willing to invest in your brand, the greater the equity.
3. Customer Engagement
The business-to-business (B2B) buying landscape has changed dramatically due to the advancement of digital technology. Buyers are as empowered as consumers and CEOs are not the only ones making the important buying decisions anymore. Interaction between vendors and businesses has also seen some big changes.
Analyst firm Forrester says that 90% of businesses begin their purchasing process with searches and that 74% of these are conducting online research even when they are purchasing offline.
Further research indicates that B2B business don’t engage directly with prospective suppliers until they are between 50 and 60% of their way through the process. According to David Krakauer, Analog Devices director and digital marketing and customer experience, this is way too late to have any influence over decision-making. On the other hand, digital engagement is instantaneous.
The ability to predict a customer’s needs by identifying their online persona allows for engagement on a personal level and delivering content that is relevant to them. This boosts customer experience and provides a sales team with a greater arsenal to influence decision-making says Krakauer.
Brand marketing strategies therefore need to be tailored to the needs of individual customers to encourage better engagement. Content must be informative, provide value, interesting and optimised for effective digital search discovery. Consider a specialist agency such as Sixth Sense Marketing.