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5 B2B Branding Mistakes That Can Be Costly to Your Business

B2B companies trying to stand out in a sea of similar offerings isn’t just a challenge—it’s a necessity. Today’s business-to-business landscape is full of rivals touting comparable products or services. Do you ever wonder why one company shines so much brighter than others? The answer goes beyond mere price wars or the delivery of a service. It’s about avoiding five common B2B branding mistakes.

This article unpacks critical missteps and shares the possible dangers of overlooking customer understanding. You’ll see how lacking certain crucial elements can make or break your B2B brand. But before we dive into the top five costly B2B branding mistakes to avoid, let’s explore why branding is so essential for B2B businesses in 2024 and beyond.

The Importance of Branding for B2Bs

First, it’s important to recognize the difference between branding and marketing, terms often used interchangeably. Branding establishes your identity and values, while marketing promotes and sells your products or services.

Branding plays a pivotal role in differentiating B2B businesses. It shapes a distinct identity that tells customers and clients why they should choose you over competitors. Competing with similar technical capabilities and price tags is old school. What stands out in modern branding is your perceived value. For that, you need a deliberate brand narrative that communicates your culture, deep industry specialization, and authenticity.

This table shows the elements related to B2B branding that contribute to its perceived value:

Branding FactorExamples/Illustrations
Unique Selling Proposition (USP)Specialized tech solutions surpassing competitors
Value Proposition (VP)Emphasizing quality and reliability over cost
Brand Narrative & IdentityShowcasing company ethos in all communications
Consistent Brand AuthenticityMaintaining brand integrity in various sectors
Future-Oriented Brand StrategyAdapting eco-friendly practices for future needs

Use these factors to create a strong perceived value for your brand. Crafting intentional industry recognition through narrative ensures authenticity, and that matters. 

Craft Your Brand Narrative

View your brand narrative as a cohesive, compelling story that your brand tells about itself. Remember, it should do more than simply convey what you do or sell. Instead, focus on why your brand exists and highlight its values. You can build your own storyline, or employees and customers can build it for you, at least in part. And think carefully about how your brand connects with its target audience emotionally.

There are four critical parts to creating a powerful B2B brand narrative:

  1. B2B brand history: Trace its origins, evolution, and important milestones
  2. Brand mission: Define the purpose and the ‘why’ behind your brand’s existence
  3. Brand solutions: Highlight the problems addressed or needs fulfilled
  4. Brand vision: Articulate future aspirations and direction

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Bold Entity: B2B Branding Experts Since 2013

Struggling to manage your B2B branding? Let Bold Entity experts, with our results-driven approach, create your unique brand identity, compelling messaging, and a cohesive brand experience. Our wide range of services includes brand strategy development, brand identity design, brand messaging, content marketing, and more.

Learn How Bold Entity Helps B2B Companies Build Powerful Brands

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Drawing a balance between where you’re at and where you’re heading lays the foundation for your business, giving it a much better chance to survive and thrive. For example, companies that balance short-term and long-term goals are more likely to succeed overall.

With an understanding of the critical role branding plays in B2B businesses, let’s delve into the five crucial branding mistakes to avoid.

B2B Branding Mistake #1: Not Fully Understanding Your Target B2B Customer

Silhouette Illustrating Unknown Customers

Correctly identifying your ideal customer and their needs makes B2B businesses more profitable. Yet a recent study of over 2,000 participants across four countries saw a common misconception among B2B sellers. The research found that B2B marketers still think buyers make rational decisions solely based on value, cost, and time-saving. While these factors are important, they no longer solely dictate decisions. Today’s customers prefer psychological drivers like autonomy, relatedness, and mastery. [1]

Around 75% of B2B buyers want helpful, branded content (substance), yet 93% of brands continue to promote their own offerings (marketing). [2]

Branding Improves Interactions and Builds Relations

Having a deep grasp of your B2B customer base is the linchpin of effective branding and marketing. It transcends mere surface demographics like age and title. Effective branding delves into your buyer’s thought processes, needs, problems, and goals. Recognizing how your products or services contribute to the buyer’s professional success is also vital. This deep understanding forms the bedrock for robust buyer relationships and effective branding strategies. How well do you know your customers?

B2B Branding Mistake #2: Starting the Branding Process Without Proper Data

A Mishmash Board of B2B Logo Ideas Ahead of Branding Strategy

Starting the B2B branding process without quality data is a common mistake. Data helps you better understand your customers, industry, and competitive landscape. It also identifies unique selling propositions, allowing you to develop a more effective brand strategy aligned with business goals. 

Here at Bold Entity, we recommend market research to understand a company’s business, objectives, values, and competitive and industry landscape. Our proven approach also starts every branding project with a strategic planning session. These in-depth sessions tell us what makes a B2B company unique and outline marketing personas.

Many types of data help with branding, and this table highlights the four most common. 

Data TypeData Use in B2B Branding
Customer DataUsed to understand the target audience better. Data helps identify profitable segments, preferences, and purchase influencers.
Competitor DataIdentifies unique selling points and differentiation opportunities by analyzing competitors’ weaknesses.
Industry DataGrasps market trends, growth rates, and market opportunities. Use data to position your brand and target new segments.
Market Research DataUse data to gather audience insights, analyze competitors, and track industry trends to address pain points in branding.

Your existing marketing and sales data can also help greatly with branding. For example, analyzing web traffic shows the most popular pages and engaging B2B content. Also, review your social media data to find resonating posts and the most interesting, trending topics.

B2B Branding Mistake #3: Blending in or Being Too Loud for Your Own Good

Blending in and being too loud are both mistakes, so what’s the answer? Successful B2B branding strikes a balance between competitive differentiation and industry resonance. Differentiation is important as it helps you stand out from your competitors and attract the attention of potential, high-value customers. For this to happen, you must be in tune with your industry so buyers see you as credible and memorable.

Keep a consistent presence across multiple channels. Prospects typically need 5 to 7 brand interactions before they can recall or recognize your brand. [3]

Blending in: It’s a mistake to try and blend in with competitors, even when they’re highly successful. A B2B brand that doesn’t stand apart from its rivals is easily forgettable. 

Being too loud: B2Bs that are too loud are trying too hard to be different from competitors. For example, they may choose an unusual identity or use disruptive marketing tactics. Going to extremes can backfire and make the brand seem out of place or even untrustworthy.

B2B: Blending In B2B: Being Too Loud
Aims to fit within industry norms and standardsStrives too hard to stand out from competitors
Seeks a balance between standing out and conforming with industry expectationsOverstates a company’s unique traits at the expense of industry relevance
Embraces recognized industry cues that promote trust and reliabilityDeviates from industry norms, potentially undermining/harming credibility
Considers the strategic significance of certain industry norms for effective communicationPrioritizes visually appealing or unique visuals without considering strategic relevance

The key is to strike the right balance between differentiation and industry resonance. First, understand your ideal customer and their needs, the competitive landscape, and industry trends. Once you have a good understanding of these factors, you can develop a brand strategy that is impressive and credible.

Here are examples of high-profile B2B businesses to illustrate the points. These companies have all successfully balanced blending in with standing out.

IBM: Famous for pioneering technology and innovation, rooted in reliability and expertise. IBM strikes a balance between tradition and cutting-edge solutions.

Salesforce: Leading customer relationship management (CRM) software that seamlessly balances industry norms with innovative solutions. Salesforce products are known to aid business growth while maintaining industry standards.

HubSpot: Innovating in marketing, sales, and service software. HubSpot has a sweet spot between convention and cutting-edge solutions that help drive business growth effectively.

B2B Branding Mistake #4: Starting the Process with Logo Designs or Brand Visuals

A common mistake when creating a new brand or revamping an existing one is to start with logos and visuals. It might seem like a logical first step, but effective branding requires a solid foundation built on strategy and positioning. Because visuals reflect your brand’s essence and represent words, the starting point should be a well-defined strategy.

Start with a clear understanding of how you want others to perceive your brand and what it stands for. Your initial focus should define your brand through words—crafting a clear message and identity—then seek visuals that authentically represent this essence.

For strategy and differentiation, your vision must encapsulate your outlook vision in a powerful way that’s easy to grasp. Ask yourself if it’s aspirational, representative of what you want it to achieve, authentic, and characteristic of the company’s core values.

Only 54% of B2Bs have an active program to measure brand perceptions. [4]

The 6-Point Brand Vision Model

The well-known strategist and branding expert David Aaker developed the Brand Vision Model over several years. Here’s a summary of its six fundamental steps.

#1 Define Brand Vision: Define your essence and prioritize its most compelling differentiation aspects as the core vision elements.

#2 Incorporate Extended Vision Elements: Add depth and nuance to the brand vision by integrating additional elements that influence brand programs and strategies.

#3 Select Unique Brand Dimensions: Tailor brand dimensions based on the market, competition, customer base, and your brand’s strategy.

#4 Maintain Aspiration: Ensure the brand vision aligns with future direction and growth strategy, pushing beyond current limitations to drive innovation and expansion.

#5 Establish a Central Brand Theme: Discover a powerful brand essence that encapsulates the brand’s aspirations to guide internal and external efforts.

#6 Use Brand Position for Short-Term Communication: Emphasize credible and deliverable brand positioning with target markets and evolving capabilities.

Position Your Brand with Purpose, Values, and Goals

The final part of your branding strategy before looking at visuals is positioning. B2B brand positioning is about creating a unique, memorable identity for your brand in the minds of buyers. It’s based on your analysis of what the target audience wants, what your company does best, and what your rivals do. By carefully positioning your brand, you create a distinctive place for it in the market, distinguishing it from competitors. The upshot of a well-crafted brand is that it influences consumer loyalty and purchase decisions.

To position your brand effectively, choose a statement that is meaningful to your target audience. This statement should be achievable for your B2B business and unique from its competitors. Also, align all your core brand elements, such as logo, tagline, and messaging, with your brand positioning statement.

Establish Brand Identity with Visuals

Once you have clearly defined the foundational aspects, it’s time to add visual elements to your brand identity. By this stage, the company stakeholders involved in the process have agreed on the brand’s core values, personality, and target audience. The job of visuals is to communicate and reinforce these core elements to the best effect. 

Color amplifies brand recognition by around 80% and significantly impacts sales. [5]

 The visual identity of a B2B brand typically includes:

  • Logos
  • Color schemes
  • Typography
  • Imagery
  • Design elements

It’s vital to align the above to amplify your now-established brand essence.

Here are three examples of how B2B companies successfully use visual elements to align and amplify their brand essence:

Google Cloud Platform: A modern, simple logo reflecting the company’s commitment to ease of use. The bold blue color palette communicates reliability and innovation.

IBM: The blue and white color palette and simple, timeless logo convey a sense of stability and trustworthiness, reflecting IBM’s long history and commitment to excellence.

Salesforce: A bright red color palette and playful logo reflect Salesforce’s emphasis on energy, excitement, interaction, and customer satisfaction.

B2B Branding Mistake #5: Poorly Planned Rollouts

Torn Paper with Words Rollout Above the Tear to Illustrate a Rushed Job

OK, you’ve spent weeks or months understanding your customers, gathering data, and finalizing your brand’s positioning. Now it’s time for the big reveal, right? Not so fast! This crucial phase often unveils two common challenges: inadequate stakeholder communication and premature implementation. Poor communication fails to capture attention, while inconsistencies from early rollout only confuse employees and customers.

Fact: Inconsistent branding damages customer relationships and employee morale. [6]

A well-structured rollout is essential and can be gradual or immediate. In either case, it must be intentional. This approach avoids premature implementations and ensures a strategic and cohesive transition across all touchpoints.

Use a simple checklist like the one below to ensure a well-planned brand rollout:

  • Have a clear communication strategy to inform your employees and customers
  • Keep branding consistent across touchpoints (virtual and physical locations)
  • Coordinate timing across platforms for a simultaneous, cohesive launch
  • Run brand-aligned training and engagement for employees
  • Ensure consistent branding and messaging in all marketing materials
  • Gather feedback post-launch to improve your product/service
  • Have a backup plan to address unforeseen issues arising during the rollout

Any branding process that is not strategic and well thought out can be damaging. It will result in confusion, inconsistent messaging, and missed market opportunities.

3 Reasons to Partner with a B2B Branding Agency

Despite the initial outlay, a B2B digital marketing and branding agency likehttps://boldentity.com/agency-services/Bold Entity often saves companies time and money. First, agency support means you avoid costly mistakes when developing and launching a new brand or revamping an old one.

Second, agencies save valuable time. They do this by taking care of all the time-consuming aspects of the branding process, from strategy development to creative execution.

Third, digital branding agency professionals help business owners get more value for their marketing budget by developing and implementing effective branding campaigns.

In Closing

Avoiding the five branding mistakes in this guide is essential for any B2B business. A compelling brand narrative and strategic vision are critical, along with careful consideration at every step. Partnering with a B2B branding agency is a great way to avoid branding blunders and squandering budgets. Professional support saves time and ensures effective branding campaigns, making the investment worthwhile for long-term success.

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  1. https://hbr.org/what-your-b2b-customers-really-want/
  2. https://www.marketingcharts.com/what-75%-of-B2B-buyers-want/
  3. https://www.pammarketingnut.com/brand-interactions/
  4. https://www.b2binternational.com/brand-perceptions/
  5. https://www.tourolaw.edu/color-recognition/
  6. https://www.marq.com/blog/brand-inconsistency/

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