Making a mark with B2B brands in 2021
Making a mark with B2B brands is vital and at Bretom, our ambition is simple – to help our clients build authentic connections with their key audiences.
This year is no different. But with continued uncertainty in many markets, the ability to attract, engage and inspire action has never been more important.
It’s been said before, but that’s because it’s true, tone of voice and authenticity matter in brand communications. The human side of a brand, whether consumer or B2B, is what engages audiences. It’s often the key point of differentiation between one brand and another, sometimes explicit, in other cases, a quality that a finger can’t quite be put on but a deal clincher all the same.
Trust is a key factor in choosing one B2B or professional services brand over another, so the connection forged through authentic brand communications is a vital part of the business development process.
Brands can’t afford to wait until there is direct contact with a prospect to inject a more personalised approach. During the pandemic, budgets have been re-directed: cost conscious buyers are spending much more time in the research phase. McKinsey research has found that three quarters of B2B buyers and sellers now have a preference for digital self-serve and remote human engagement. Added to this, mounting evidence in the past couple of years – as we highlighted in our article on B2B brand building – points to greater volumes of research and content consumption before first contact with a brand’s representative. This corroborates the view that strong brand communications play a substantial role in driving competitive advantage and market share.
Rich, multi-dimensional and engaging stories often form the backbone of authentic brand communications. This is about the imagery as much as it is about the words, and with digital channels accounting for the vast majority of consumption during the pandemic, it’s easy for prospective buyers or clients to become overwhelmed; a visually engaging story will increase the likelihood of stand out, recall and action.
Measurement of every single communication to optimise ROI shouldn’t be at the expense of creativity.
“Interesting opinion articles, case studies and testimonials presented creatively and shared widely have the best traction in terms of building greater awareness, developing trust and motivating positive action within target audiences,” says Bretom founder and creative director, Rebecca Lovelock.
“But audiences only have a certain amount of bandwidth – especially now – so the messages must be clear and relevant but the format must also be engaging and digestible,” she goes on to explain.
One of the most engaging formats, across a variety of styles, continues to be video. Throughout an integrated campaign that Bretom planned and executed for Intelligent Office in Autumn 2020, video content in the form of explainers, interviews and animated storytelling, was consistently the best performing. Oaklin, another long-standing client of Bretom, commissioned a series of animated teasers to engage their target audience with longer-form insights to brilliant effect.
Digital channels such as social media are a core element of building brand awareness – amongst core audiences, but also for other potential targets including talent attraction, investors and strategic partners – as well as contributing to search engine optimisation. Direct communications in the form of targeted emails are another effective tool for lead generation further down the sales funnel. Experian reports that where the subject line can be personalised, there is 26% greater chance of them being opened.
Digital channels and tactics facilitate measurement, optimisation and analytics on a granular level: measuring and tracking KPIs and cost per lead has never been easier. This is a good thing for the improvement of targeting and outcomes; and at a time when budgets are under greater scrutiny, many are keen to embrace this approach.
But, we’d caution against being solely reliant on this approach as a yardstick of brand perception and longer term pipeline potential. Referencing our starting point about personality and authentic storytelling, measurement of every single communication to optimise ROI shouldn’t be at the expense of creativity. Any savings (time or money) would be wisely channelled into delighting audiences with creative, engaging content.