How to do B2b branding?

Updated on
July 6, 2024

Designing B2B brands: A comprehensive guide

Designing a B2B brand involves a complex and multifaceted approach that goes beyond traditional branding methods used for consumer brands. The process requires a deep understanding of the business environment, a clear articulation of brand values, and strategic implementation across various touchpoints. This article explores the essential elements of designing effective B2B brands, drawing insights from the book "Designing B2B Brands: Lessons from Deloitte and 195,000 Brand Managers" by Carlos Martinez Onaindia and Brian Resnick.

Understanding B2B dranding

What is Branding?

Branding in the B2B context is about building trust and consistency. It is not just a promise to stakeholders but a faith in the organization's ability to deliver on its commitments. This faith is built through consistent and quality interactions with the brand's products, services, and people. Deloitte's journey in branding started in 2003, focusing on creating a unified vision and becoming "the standard of excellence" in professional services.

Importance of Brand Identity

Brand identity is the tangible and intangible manifestation of the brand, expressed through visual, aural, and experiential elements. It is a strategic system of design and communication that helps distinguish the organization and build a desire for future interactions. For example, Deloitte's brand identity system includes a suite of flexible core elements that communicate intelligence and vibrancy across different touchpoints.

Key elements of B2b branding

1. Brand Strategy

A well-defined brand strategy aligns with the overall business strategy, determining the who, what, where, why, and how of the brand. It involves setting clear objectives, understanding the target audience, and addressing potential obstacles. Effective brand strategy leads to better brand equity, translating directly to brand value and the ability to command a premium for products and services.

2. Brand Architecture

Brand architecture organizes all functions and services within the brand portfolio, providing clarity and emphasizing core offerings. It ensures consistency and coherence across various business units and service lines. Deloitte's brand architecture avoids sub-brands to maintain the strength of the master brand, presenting a unified identity to stakeholders.

3. Brand Purpose

Brand purpose goes beyond serving clients or building revenue; it defines the organization's reason for being. It provides meaning to the work of employees and aligns with the broader societal impact. A credible, connected, and well-communicated purpose enhances brand engagement and loyalty.

4. Brand Positioning

Brand positioning differentiates the organization from its competitors by highlighting core attributes and creating a unique value proposition. It involves a collective comparative view that authentically represents the brand while setting it apart in the marketplace. Effective positioning requires a deep understanding of the organization's strengths and aspirations.

5. Brand Experience

The brand experience encompasses all interactions an individual has with the business, including digital and physical touchpoints. For B2B brands, the experience is extended and nuanced, requiring consistency and coherence across various channels. Deloitte's brand experience focuses on delivering a unified message through compositional and tonal consistency.

6. Brand Engagement

Brand engagement involves creating strategic interactions that energize employees and connect with external audiences. It is about building relationships through shared experiences and authentic representation of the brand's values. Engaged employees are the best promoters of the brand, living the brand's personality and promise.

7. Brand Measurement

Measuring the impact of branding efforts is crucial for continuous improvement. It involves identifying meaningful metrics related to awareness, attraction, and advocacy. Effective brand measurement provides insights into how the brand is perceived and helps align strategies for better brand performance.

Implementing B2b brand strategies

1. Consistency Across Touchpoints

Consistency is key to successful branding. Ensuring that all brand elements are aligned and consistently applied across various touchpoints helps in building a strong brand image. This includes visual identity, tone of voice, and brand messaging.

2. Leveraging Storytelling

Storytelling adds humanity and richness to the brand, making it memorable and distinct. Sharing personal and relevant stories enhances brand connectivity and engagement.

3. Enhancing Brand Experience

Focus on delivering a consistent brand experience across all channels and mediums. Integrate audience impressions and harmonize tactics for a robust and aligned brand experience.

4. Engaging Employees

Engage employees by involving them in brand-building activities and educating them about the brand's importance and function. Engaged employees act as brand ambassadors, promoting the brand through their daily interactions.

5. Measuring Success

Continuously measure the impact of branding efforts to gain insights and make informed decisions. Use the findings to enhance communication strategies and better understand audience needs.

B2b versus B2c branding

B2C, business-to-consumer brand purchases are often made on impulse, business-to-business buying decisions are driven by myriad factors and can span many months. So for B2Bs, think “best to build”: brand embedding requires significant investment, spread over numerous touch-points, over an expanse of time.

The 7 key questions for developing a B2b brand strategy

Developing a robust B2B brand strategy requires a thorough understanding of both the internal and external factors influencing your business. Here are the seven key questions you need to address:

 1. What is the current perception of the organization?

Understanding your current reputation is the first step in developing a brand strategy. This involves:

- Assessing Current Reputation: Gauge how your organization is currently viewed by stakeholders, including customers, employees, and industry peers.

- Audience Views: Determine what your target audience thinks about your products or services, and how they perceive your brand in terms of quality, reliability, and value.

- Existing Differentiators: Identify what sets your organization apart from competitors in the eyes of your audience. This could include unique features, superior customer service, or innovative solutions.

 2. What is the desired perception of the organization?

Next, you need to define how you want your organization to be perceived in the future. This involves:

- Future Associations: Determine the attributes and values you want your brand to be associated with.

- Points of Recognition: Identify key elements that will make your brand easily recognizable and memorable.

- Aspirations: Outline the long-term goals and aspirations for your brand, ensuring they align with your overall business strategy.

 3. What is the competitive landscape?

Analyzing the competitive landscape is crucial to positioning your brand effectively. This involves:

- Identifying Competitors: List existing brands in your industry that are well-established and may pose a challenge to your market entry or expansion.

- Barriers to Entry: Understand the obstacles that could hinder your brand’s growth, such as established customer loyalty towards competitors or regulatory challenges.

- Resource Comparison: Evaluate how your resources compare to those of your competitors, including financial, technological, and human resources.

 4. Is there sufficient cross-function/cross-service/cross-border consistency?

Consistency across all aspects of your organization is essential for a cohesive brand strategy. This involves:

- Alignment of Views: Ensure that all departments and functions within your organization have a common understanding of the brand’s mission, vision, and values.

- Cultural Consistency: Promote a unified culture that supports the brand identity across different services and geographical regions.

- Positioning Consistency: Maintain a consistent brand positioning in all markets and across all services to reinforce brand recognition and reliability.

 5. How mature is the legacy brand positioning?

Evaluating the maturity of your existing brand positioning helps determine the extent of changes needed. This involves:

- Current Position Assessment: Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your current brand positioning.

- Work Required: Identify the degree of effort needed to shift existing perceptions to align with your desired brand identity.

- Building on Positives: Leverage existing positive impressions and strengths to support the transition to the new brand positioning.

 6. Is there leadership support?

Leadership support is critical for the successful implementation of a brand strategy. This involves:

- Executive Understanding: Ensure that the leadership team comprehends the importance of brand strategy and its impact on business success.

- Ambassadorship: Gain commitment from executives to act as brand ambassadors, promoting the brand vision both internally and externally.

- Alignment with Business Goals: Align the brand strategy with the organization’s business goals, ensuring that resources and priorities are dedicated to supporting the brand.

 7. What resources are available?

Finally, assess the resources available to support your brand strategy. This involves:

- Financial Resources: Determine the budget available for branding activities, including marketing, advertising, and promotional efforts.

- Human Resources: Identify the team members and expertise required to develop and implement the brand strategy effectively.

- Growth and Pricing Strategies: Ensure that resources are allocated to support competitive pricing strategies and organizational growth, enabling the brand to achieve its desired market position.

Addressing these seven key questions will provide a comprehensive foundation for developing a successful B2B brand strategy. By understanding your current position, defining your desired perception, analyzing the competitive landscape, ensuring consistency, evaluating legacy positioning, securing leadership support, and assessing available resources, you can create a robust and effective brand strategy that drives long-term business success.

As a brand you can't get everyone to love you

As humans, we naturally seek attention and affection. We desire universal love and acceptance. However, it becomes apparent over time that garnering love from everyone is nearly impossible. This reality is mirrored in the world of branding.

Many brands fall into the trap of attempting to appeal to everyone. With each communication piece, they strive to reach and please a broad audience. Despite their efforts, they often fail, sometimes miserably.

Like individuals, brands need to prioritize their audience. They should seek love from those who resonate with them, focusing on those who align with their values and needs. Ignoring these core groups to chase universal approval is likely to result in alienation and lack of genuine connection.

For instance, if you are a luxury brand, direct your message towards those who can afford and aspire to be associated with you. Attempting to appeal to everyone dilutes your message, potentially alienating those who are either loyal or on the verge of becoming loyal.

In summary, brands should focus on building relationships with their target audience rather than seeking universal appeal. This approach not only strengthens brand loyalty but also ensures a more authentic and effective communication strategy.

By honing in on a specific audience, brands can create more meaningful and impactful connections, ultimately leading to sustained success. The narrower the target, the more distinctive the brand.


Designing a B2B brand requires a strategic approach that integrates business objectives with brand identity and purpose. By focusing on consistency, engagement, and measurement, businesses can build strong and impactful B2B brands that resonate with stakeholders and drive long-term success. The lessons from Deloitte's branding journey provide valuable insights into the complexities and rewards of B2B branding, offering a replicable model for other organizations aiming to strengthen their brand presence in the marketplace. Investing in a strong B2B brand is crucial for any business aiming to sustain growth, build reputation, and achieve long-term success.

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