How to Shape a Strong B2B Corporate Branding with Employee Advocacy
B2B corporate branding positively influences the decision-making process of your prospects, nudging the odds in your favor. And a huge part of branding is a company’s visual identity, and everything you put out there impacts how you are perceived in the market. Employee advocacy can be a powerful tool to enhance and strengthen your corporate image and boost your branding as a B2B business.
What is B2B corporate branding?
Reputation for a person develops in the same way brand does for a company: if one’s reputation depends on one’s competence and abilities, attitude, people skills, and image, a company’s brand develops out of its expertise and position in the industry, online presence, the way it engages with its customers and audience, etc.
In other words, as a B2B company, a finely curated corporate brand can turn you into a top-of-mind brand in your sector and set you on the right track to becoming that go-to point of reference for those seeking to take advantage of your product or service.
A lot needs to happen, but do not forget that the right B2B corporate branding strategy will help you develop a reputation as a brand. Namely, a corporate brand with an appropriate message that leaves a long-lasting impression will attract and foster consumer trust and become a top-of-mind brand.
The road to building your B2B corporate brand
The ever-evolving market presents several challenges to brands, who now have to compete with the entire world market, basically, and not just the local one. However, these challenges make it all the more important for companies to invest in strategies and tools that can move the needle and make a difference in how they handle their corporate branding.
Branding for B2B businesses typically targets potential customers with a higher level of decision-making power than business-to-consumer, or B2C, branding. This means that B2B branding needs to be more sophisticated and professional. At the same time, the so-called decision maker is usually not one person only but a group of executives, which means that this branding needs to cater to a whole gamut of roles, depending on the sector.
This shared decision-making responsibility, combined with the bigger scope of the sale, makes it so that B2B sales cycles end up being much longer than B2C. The result is that branding for B2B would then need to be focused on creating meaningful, long-lasting relationships with potential customers over time.
Understanding the challenges of today’s market
Zooming in on today’s market, it’s easy to notice how the purchasing power has been passed on from older to younger generations — specifically to Millennials and Gen Zers. This has turned brand trust into one of the highest-impact factors for businesses: it now constitutes one of the major evaluation points for companies.
This is true for B2C businesses, of course, but not less relevant for B2B companies. More often than not, a company’s brand is one of the decisive factors for B2B brands – what makes you stand out among your competitors, what makes potential customers think of you first, and what drives word-of-mouth. Branding gives your audience a sense of direction and belonging, a precise identity to remember, and a reliable voice to trust.
However, building connections and trust with your public is intricate. Especially as a B2B business with many competitors in the field, this proves to be challenging: you are not just trying to be relatable to the individual consumer, but trying to appeal to a whole sector, trying to fill a company-wide need.
Even when you know what elements are crucial to define and spread their corporate brand, companies often aren’t sure where the best place to start is, what exactly will make the most impact in the least amount of time, etc.
The pillars of B2B corporate branding
Corporate branding is an all-encompassing label that includes everything from company logo and design to customer experience, company culture and values, and employee experience. Aligning your marketing strategy with your business objectives is a natural and crucial first step, but there are several more elements to keep in check, such as messaging and consistency.
Messaging determines a good part of what your brand feels like to the outside world, starting with what you communicate to your audience and how you do it. It determines your tone and the nature of your relationship with your audience and customers. But messaging is also your company story and how you tell it – your storytelling. And that’s one of the most powerful things when it comes to forging connections, especially in the B2B world.
This includes creating a positioning statement explaining why your company exists and how it differs from the consumer market competition, what your mission is, your values, and your brand story. The narrative you choose and how you communicate it determines the nature of the relationships you forge. Applying your messaging consistently will increase the recognizability of your brand and create bonds with your public.
B2B corporate brand can help establish trust with potential customers and decision-makers. A strong brand perception backed by powerful messaging helps create a consistent message about your core values, mission, and services, establishing trustworthiness and reliability in the minds of your target customers.
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Shape your B2B branding strategy with employee advocacy
We mentioned how B2B corporate branding hinges on many elements, including employee experience and powerful storytelling. Employee experience is an important, yet often overlooked, thread that can enormously impact your business perception and determine how the external world sees you — in other words, your reputation. Storytelling is the filter you use to communicate with your audience online, which has no small role in shaping the tone of your brand.
What employees communicate online on social media and how they do it does not only influence your employer branding but your corporate branding too. How they are perceived reflects on you as a company, and so is how you are perceived. How they communicate and interact with peers says something about how they communicate online.
Social media has changed the branding landscape in the sense that everyone is unconsciously curating their personal branding every time they interact with specific social media posts, post something, or engage with other people on one platform or the other.
The by far most profitable and strategic approach to this is to incorporate the employees’ efforts and branding into the company’s own. How? By formalizing their efforts and even encouraging them to develop them under the company’s guidance and leadership to forge a unified and aligned storyline and altogether stronger branding for both employees and the company.
How advocacy can influence B2B corporate branding
By merging employees’ and company’s branding efforts, you’ll be leveraging the power of employee advocacy in several of its instances.
- Benefit from the increased credibility consumers attach to information individuals share. It is common knowledge now that people trust people over companies; people trust connections, peers, friends, and people they know over ads and corporate voices.
That’s why attaching yourself to your employees’ voices will make you much more authentic, credible, and reliable in the eyes of your consumers. And through them, you’ll be able to build those connections people crave. In turn, that will gradually develop customer loyalty and trust, which is one of the main goals of corporate branding.
Forward-thinking brands foster positive and mutually beneficial relationships with their employees, reaping benefits across all layers of corporate branding and beyond.
- Forster and leverage thought leadership. As a company, you can streamline corporate content, opinion pieces, industry-relevant articles, and papers whose credibility, accuracy, and professional angles will help your employees profile themselves as thought-leaders in the industry. This will have a massive impact on their personal branding, profile, and position in the industry.
At the same time, you can leverage the power of those personal brands and high-profile employees to build up your own corporate branding. This synergy can help you both enhance your perception, expand your audience, and grow your business.
- Become more relatable and humanize your branding. Rather than being seen as an institution, you can be recognized for your humanity, breaking down barriers between your business and your consumers.
At this point, it doesn’t matter whether personal or corporate brand came first — by relying on your employees and guiding them through their thought-leadership journey, you’ll be able to build a more reliable, credible, and impactful corporate branding. You must trust them to advocate for you and formalize their efforts with the proper tool to achieve it.
It is now a fact that a well-done B2B corporate branding positively influences the decision-making process of your prospects, nudging the odds in your favor. And a huge part of branding is a company’s visual identity, and everything you put out there – you or your teams, that is – will have a short and long-term impact on your corporate branding. This could have an impression on your potential clients or prospects.