A b2b brand experience is like an orchestra. The various departments, like the various sections, have very different functions that must come together to create a lovely whole.
In an orchestra, when all the elements are working, the music seamlessly swells and dips creating a synchronicity so lovely that the listener gets transported. In contrast, even subtle inconsistencies can sound discordant, leaving the listener feeling jarred.
A business’ brand works in the same way. If all the brand elements do not quite align, then a customer will leave the interaction feeling slightly addled, sometimes without knowing precisely why. The danger is greater than this though. Brand is deployed through multiple and diverse channels, so the potential for diluting the brand or worse – misrepresenting the brand, is huge.
How can you make sure that your company is as consistent and dependable as time passing in its brand efforts?
Sidenote: This post assumes you’ve nailed your brand positioning already – but if you haven’t, contact us immediately about finding your unique brand position and voice in the world (or find your hotdog in a sea of princesses).
Why is b2b brand consistency so important?
Buyers want to buy from brands they already know, particularly when those brands reflect their own values. Your brand informs your buyers of your brand values. But to establish trust, you need to create consistency over time and across channels, so your buyers know exactly who they’re dealing with.
B2b products and services are often highly complex, expensive and risky for the buyer to invest in. The buying process is designed to minimise the risk the decision-maker is taking to invest in your offering. Having a consistent brand allows you to drive home the message, that your business is comprised of people with similar values to you, but also that your business is organised, professional, unified and reliable too.
Brands communicate their promise to market in a few ways, but we break it down simply into three key ways:
- Look and feel
You could look at this as the 1, 2 3 of basic, intermediate and advanced branding, with each of the steps becoming both more potent, but also more complex to manage.
1. Keeping your look and feel consistent
The key to consistency is creating clarity around expectations. While a style guide containing just the look and feel elements is a useful document for the marketing department, a brand charter is an expansion of a style guide, that contains all the strategic inspiration behind the brand. It might include your brand story, your organisation’s values, a vivid description of your customers, your culture or what makes up your specific company’s DNA, your unique promise to market, the principles your brand stands for, and any other engaging brand elements.
Sharing your brand charter gives all of your colleagues a reference guide to ensure they’re applying any creative elements to presentations or self-made documents correctly, but more than this, it gives them a reason to. Only when colleagues believe in and engage with your brand story can they advocate for its consistent promotion.
2. Creating a common language to use
If it is one thing we’ve learned since offering content services, it is that everyone has their own personal style of writing. Makes sense - we’re not robots. However, consistent language plays a massive part in brand consistency as well, and it is harder to systemise than you’d think.
An in-house language style guide is a document that plays beautifully into this social and content-driven world.
Admittedly, it is a fairly detailed document - but time well spent. At a minimum, it should contain your own rules around:
- Naming conventions
- Tone of voice
- Capitalisation of heading
- Quotation marks
- Editorial process
- SEO processes
If you are hiring freelancers, or working with an agency, this kind of guide also ensures that all your correspondence and content has the same voice and the same style.
But don’t stop at creating these two documents. If you really want to get engagement with, and correct representation of the brand, you need to involve your colleagues outside the marketing department, giving them clear roles in maintaining brand consistency. This brings us to…
3. Managing brand experience through behaviour
You want to look, feel and sound like you should across every channel. But what of behaviours? How are people interacting in meetings? Answering the phone? Managing tricky client requests? What about response times? Are the behaviours and processes in your organisation aligned with your brand promise? Are they consistent? How do people even know what is expected?
Managing your brand behaviour across touchpoints is a very tricky thing, and one that few companies get right. A way to ensure that you are upholding a certain level of behaviour is to have a set of standards that every employee gets across. This set of standards outlines what is acceptable behaviour. Depending on how formal your business is, your document could include:
- Dress code
- Phone manner
- How to deal with a difficult customer or client
- Expectations in meetings
- Signatures on your emails
The standards should be reiterated often. If phone sales are a big part of your business, for example, you should monitor them to make sure that the dialogue is working for your ideal customer. Always look to see where you could be improving and don’t be scared to be thorough. The tiniest details can ruin an otherwise sterling performance – if you went to a concert and the cellist was scratching her leg, it might not ruin the quality of the music, but it might mar the experience.
4. Social media
Social media is a proven way to reiterate your brand’s message. It provides an ideal way to share content and to interact with your customers in an organic and authentic way. However, if you’re in the wrong place saying the wrong thing, it will undermine the integrity of your message. If you’re Spotify, you can definitely craft a Facebook message using the terms ‘vibing’ ‘amazeballs’ and ‘lolling.’ The same thing is not going to work if you are a corporate insurance company posting a message on LinkedIn.
Additional to personality aspects, you can also program the kinds of conversations you want to participate in and how you’d respond with a point-of-view process. Documenting the ‘company line’ or angle on a number of topical issues around your brand is crucial to guiding your social media managers to participate in the right way.
Lastly, while brand consistency is key, make sure your tools are also effective. Make sure to measure results. You may find that on Facebook you can raise general awareness, but LinkedIn is where you’re getting actual leads, so the content you produce for those platforms will differ, by virtue of purpose. Having said that, while the platforms may serve different purposes, it’s important to keep key elements across all the platforms, elements including company name, logos, design and language tone. If you are using a hashtag for a particular campaign, have one for all platforms. By doing this you are harnessing a powerful medium to strengthen recall as well as maximising your reach.
Brands making beautiful music
No matter what capacity you are interacting with your customers, they should always come away from the interaction, knowing what your promise is, what your values are and what you can do for them to make their lives better. Making a commitment to brand consistency is about finding the devil in the details and striving to make all aspects of your business harmonious. When you get it right, a positive customer experience can be uplifting and inspiring.
We hope that we’ve given you some tips to make beautiful moments with your customers. If you would like more information on how you can hone and tone your brand experience, check out our quick-start guide to inbound marketing today!
Brand chemistry is a strategic brand agency. With more than 10 years experience building brands, we know what it takes to stand out amongst your competitors. Take a look at our client case studies to find out more.