It’s a valid question. It’s also one confirmed by a recent Greenfeld, Belser study. In a recent global survey of CMOs & branding execs they discovered the following: 92-95% of managing partners consider brand perception to be moderately or extremely important to success. But only 21% stated that they thought their own brands were well understood by prospects. That’s a giant discrepancy.
In order for your brand to be well understood, it first has to be noticed. You have to show up on the radar. Then and only then can you begin the task of bring the prospect up to speed about why your business is the better choice. This brings up a maxim we’ve written about before: It’s more important to be different than to be better. Being different is what helps you stand out. And that’s the key to everything.
For a bit of perspective, let’s turn to a few examples of consumer brands who were saddled with brand perceptions that were old and tired. The first even has ‘old’ in their name – Old Spice. They introduced a character that quickly became one of the most popular viral ad campaigns in history. It was funny, irreverent and it completely transformed the brand’s perception. It made a huge difference in sales, too.
Another brand that has completely shed its former skin is Cadillac. Love or hate this new commercial that appears to celebrate materialism, you have to admit it doesn’t feel anything like what the brand used to be.
Will this commercial alienate some? Yes, it will. But on the other hand, it may work perfectly for Cadillac’s core target – and that’s where the sales are made. The iconic auto company took a bit of risk. And that’s the opposite of what most B2B brands are willing to do. If you think it’s fudging a bit to use consumer brands as an example, here an article about three B2B brands that used humor to create a fresh identity.
One more brand – with both consumer and B2B targets – that’s doing an excellent job of communicating is… Google. Sometimes I’m amazed how many commercials I see with that logo at the end.
So what’s not boring in B2B marketing or brand identity? Humor. Drama. High production value and special effects. Perhaps most importantly, the unexpected. You have to find a way to communicate your brand premise that captures attention.
And as we’ve said many times before, you also have to fund it adequately. The potential for reward is very great. But only the brands willing to take the chance will be those that dominate their markets.