Logo design for B2B companies

Good visual identity design can help a business stand out. However, it should not be a substitute for a solid product or service offering that addresses a customer’s needs effectively. The identity is a tool to attract and retain customers.

Author
Updated on
July 8, 2023
brand identity design b2b companies
Seth Godin explaining that a brand is the set of expectations, memories, stores and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer's decision to choose one product or service over another.

What is a brand identity?

Brand identity is the face of a brand. It is the manifestation of the brand in physical space. 

  • Brand - Emotional. 
  • B2B logo design or Brand identity (verbal + visual) - Physical and verbal

A Visual Identity System (VIS) encompasses all visual assets used by a brand and is crucial for standing out in a competitive marketplace.

These elements include -

  • Trademark
  • Patterns
  • Colour palettes, Color Scheme
  • Typefaces
  • Taglines
  • Photography and illustration style
  • Patterns
  • Icons
  • Messaging 
  • Tone of voice
  • Jingles 

The identity system of a brand is used to control the deployment of trademarks and its accompanying elements on publications, ads, stationery, vehicles, signages and other areas. Identity manuals or brand books are designed to control the sizes, colours, spacing and architecture of printed pages or digitally designed interfaces. They bring consistency to a brand.

What it isn’t

Many people confuse brand identity with trademarks. A trademark is a small component of a brand's identity system. 

A trademark can be a - 

  • Professional Logo Design
  • Symbol
  • Monogram
  • Emblem
  • Or other graphic device

The word logo design sounds cool but is often used in the wrong context. A logo is short for logotype, made from a custom-lettered word. 

The importance of a strong visual identity system in the b2b space

The proliferation of the internet has expanded the number of options available to consumers, emphasising the importance for brands to establish strong visual identities that allow them to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

The human brain relies on previous experiences and knowledge to interpret and make sense of visual cues, making the psychology of visuals a crucial factor in shaping how consumers perceive and engage with a brand.

A solid Visual Identity System can : 

  • Build trust - It establishes consistency and professionalism, which in turn builds trust with customers. When a brand maintains a consistent look and feel across all touch-points, it signals reliability and instills confidence in the brand's offerings. IBM is one of the famous b2b logos.

IBM black and white logo
IBM's visual identity system with its iconic logo and clean design has helped create a sense of trust in their technology solutions.

Create positive associations -  It can evoke emotions and create positive associations with a brand. Colors, typography, imagery, and other visual elements can elicit specific feelings and connect with the target audience.


Adobe colour palette photography style and typeface
Adobe's visual identity system features a vibrant colour palette, dynamic imagery, and a modern typography choice. These design elements convey a sense of creativity, innovation, and cutting-edge technology, which aligns with Adobe's position as a leader in creative software solutions.
  • Give you control of the brands perception - It allows a brand to have control over how it is perceived by shaping the visual cues that customers encounter. By defining consistent brand guidelines, a b2b company can ensure that its messaging and visual elements align with its intended brand image.

Cisco visual identity
Cisco, a networking solutions provider, uses a visual identity system that conveys reliability, security, and technological expertise, giving them control over the perception of their brand as a trusted industry leader.


Some other benefits are : 

  • A pleasing and uniform visual identity has the potential to draw more clients. People judge your company long before they know you. Books are judged by their covers a lot, though the saying advises otherwise. 
  • It can make you appear consistent, convey stability, earn a good reputation and build trust which leads to brand loyalty.
  • It can help leads and your target audience to associate your brand logo with positive attributes. If your brand is consistent, you have more chances that people will recognise your brand.

The b2b identity crisis

There are varying arguments on whether a b2b company can benefit from a strong visual identity. Some claim that visual identity plays an important role in establishing trust and building credibility among customers and stakeholders of B2B companies. Others claim that identity design may not be as critical for B2B companies as it is for B2C companies, and that investing in it may be a waste of time and resources.

Lately b2b companies are being built to be sold - not to last.

This trend has come about due to several reasons -

  • VC funding places a ton of pressure on startups to achieve rapid growth and profitability, with the expectation of significant return on their investment.
  • It’s never been easier to buy and sell companies, due to the rise of online marketplaces
  • The success stories of high profile startups has created a perception that building a company to sell is a viable path to riches

In such a climate, does identity design matter?

The approach to identity design may differ depending on the company’s goals, so the answer is contextual. 

For b2b companies built to be sold

Identity design may focus more on :

  • Being flexible, allowing it to be easily adapted as the company grows or shifts focus.
  • Creating a visually striking and memorable look and feel that can quickly capture attention in the market.
  • Being distinctive enough to make the brand stand out in a crowded field of similar companies and look appealing.

For b2b companies built to last

Identity design may focus more on :

  • Consistency and long-term sustainability, with the goal of building a lasting connection with its customers and stakeholders.
  • Building a brand that reflects the company’s core values and mission, and resonates with its target audience. 
Chris do saying branding is not just the logo

In both contexts, the identity of your b2b brand does matter. But here’s the kicker -

“Your company isn’t valuable because of your brand identity. Your brand identity is as valuable as your company.” - Chris Do

What is brand equity?

Brand equity refers to the intangible value and perception that a brand holds in the marketplace. It represents the commercial value and reputation a brand has built over time. 

Brand equity encompasses various factors such as -

  • Brand awareness - Brand awareness refers to the extent to which a brand is recognized and remembered by potential buyers.
  • Customer loyalty - Customer loyalty represents the commitment and preference of customers towards a particular brand. It signifies the level of trust, satisfaction, and repeated business that customers have with a brand over time.
  • Brand associations - Brand associations refer to the mental connections and attributes that customers link to a brand.These associations can include qualities such as reliability, innovation, or trustworthiness, and are shaped by a brand's actions, communications, and customer experiences.
  • Perceived quality - Perceived quality refers to customers' subjective assessment of a brand's product or service quality. It is influenced by factors such as reputation, performance, durability, and customer reviews.
  • Brand image - Brand image refers to the overall impression, personality, and characteristics associated with a brand.

The concept of brand equity suggests that a strong and well-established brand will have a competitive advantage over its competitors. It enables a brand to command premium pricing, attract and retain customers, and generate customer preference and loyalty. Professional logo creation or logo design process is usually done by a logo design agency or logo designer. Logo design project usually gets handled very carefully by a logo design agency since the stakes are really high. B2b branding is a long process. A brand story gets build by the logo design company as part of the logo design process. Design professionals at logo design agency know how to use graphic design required for a custom logo design.

Brand equity reinforces brand identity

Brand equity is built over time through positive customer experiences, effective marketing strategies, and consistent delivery of value. As brand equity strengthens, it reinforces and validates the brand identity. When customers have positive experiences and perceptions associated with a brand, it solidifies the brand's identity in their minds. 

Brand identity shapes brand equity

Brand identity plays a crucial role in shaping brand equity by establishing a unique and recognisable brand image. It helps differentiate the brand from competitors, create emotional connections with customers, and communicate the brand's values and personality. A well-crafted and consistent brand identity enhances brand awareness, associations, and customer perceptions, all of which contribute to building brand equity.

But what if my brand identity is set?

If you've invested in a visual identity that isn't working out, there is still hope. Changing a company's visual identity is possible, but it must be approached strategically and with care.

Why isn’t it working?

The first step is understanding why the current VIS isn’t working. There could be multiple reasons - 

  • Lack of brand recognition: If the target audience is unable to identify or associate the visual elements with the company or its offerings, it indicates a weak visual identity.
  • Inconsistency: If the visual elements, such as logo, colours, typography, and overall design, vary across different platforms, it creates confusion and dilutes brand identity.
  • Poor market reception: If the visual identity fails to resonate with the target market or elicit a positive response, it may indicate a disconnect between the brand image and customer expectations.
  • Outdated or irrelevant design: If the visual identity appears outdated or no longer aligns with the company's values, industry trends, or target audience preferences, it may be necessary to consider a refresh.
  • Negative associations: If the visual identity is associated with negative connotations, controversy, or outdated perceptions that harm the company's reputation, reevaluating and rebranding the visual identity might be necessary.

Conduct a brand audit to understand what aspect of the brand or its visual identity isn’t working. 

Evolutionary vs revolutionary change

Once the audit is done, you will be able to gauge whether or not you need to make an evolutionary change or revolutionary change to you brand.

Revolutionary change - It entails a complete overhaul and reimagining of the brand's visual elements, messaging, and positioning. This type of change is more drastic and transformative, often driven by the need to address substantial brand issues, reposition the company in the market, or target a new audience. Eg - Atlassian

Evolutionary change - It involves refining and modernizing the visual aspects while maintaining core brand attributes and familiarity. This type of change aims to evolve the brand in response to market trends, customer preferences, or internal strategic shifts without completely discarding the existing brand equity. Eg - Mailchimp

Factors to consider before investing in identity

  • Business goals - The company should first define its business goals and objectives. The brand identity should align with these goals and help achieve them to an extent.
  • Target audience/ Potential Customers - Understanding the target audience is crucial to creating a successful brand identity. The company should research and analyse its customers preferences, needs, and behaviour to create a brand identity that resonates with them.
  • Competitive landscape - The company should analyse its competition and identify what sets it apart from them. A unique brand identity can help differentiate the company from its competitors.
  • Brand personality - The brand identity should reflect the company’s personality and values. It should be consistent across all touch-points and resonate with customers.
  • Scalability - The brand identity should be scalable and flexible enough to accommodate future growth and changes in the company’s focus or offerings.

The book "Brand Identity Essentials: 100 Principles for Designing Logos and Building Brands" outlines the following 100 principles:

  1. Illustrative Logos
  2. Visual Style
  3. An Aesthetic Niche
  4. Color Choices
  5. Applied Color
  6. Color Power
  7. 3D Logos
  8. Physical Elements
  9. A Sense of Place
  10. Contrast in Composition
  11. Contrasting Elements
  12. Being Different
  13. Logo Shapes
  14. Shape Patterns
  15. Shape and Meaning
  16. Cultural Symbols
  17. Symbol Vocabularies
  18. Brands as Symbols
  19. Monograms and Word Marks
  20. Type Choices
  21. Type and Meaning
  22. Names and Taglines
  23. Editorial Style
  24. Voice
  25. Logos as Storytellers
  26. Narrative Applications
  27. Brand Stories
  28. Logo Structure
  29. Program Consistency
  30. What Is "On Brand"?
  31. Logo Flexibility
  32. Flexible Systems
  33. Brands that Surprise
  34. Personal Logos
  35. Inclusive Programs
  36. MyBrand
  37. Marks and Meaning
  38. Program Context
  39. Brand Psychology
  40. Idea Generation
  41. Prototyping
  42. Strategic Foundations
  43. Production Methods
  44. "Image" as a Verb
  45. New Sources of Meaning
  46. Pictures in Pixels
  47. Building an Online Identity
  48. Digital Brands
  49. Logo Trends
  50. Popular Culture
  51. MacroTrends
  52. Do the Right Thing
  53. Program Investments
  54. Walk the Talk
  55. New Interactions
  56. Social Innovation
  57. Transparent Brands
  58. Ingredient Brands
  59. Standards of Hierarchy
  60. Managing Multiple Brands
  61. Trademarks
  62. Trade Dress
  63. Owning an Aesthetic
  64. Logo Specs
  65. Application Rules
  66. Brand Bibles
  67. Logos Lifecycles
  68. Planning for Change
  69. Change Strategy
  70. Dueling Logos
  71. Programs That Stand Out
  72. Competitive Landscape
  73. Timelessness
  74. Taking Chances
  75. The Human Element
  76. Logos with a Sense of Humor
  77. Fun with Programs
  78. Funny Brands
  79. Standing for Something
  80. Building toward Something
  81. Promising Something
  82. The Truth Comes Out
  83. Authenticity Grows
  84. Honesty Is Sustainable
  85. Stick with a Good Idea
  86. Program Confidence
  87. Decisive Brands
  88. The Sign of a Promise
  89. Customer Immersion
  90. Positioning
  91. Do Your Homework
  92. Constraints and Opportunities
  93. Know Your Customer
  94. Experiencing the Logo
  95. Connecting the Dots
  96. Customer Experience Planning
  97. A Good Idea
  98. Contextual Inspiration
  99. 99% Perspiration
  100. Keep It Simple​​

Conclusion

Good visual identity design or brand logo can help a business stand out. Logo elements, Logo concepts, Logo creation are done by design professionals, who will understand your specific needs. Great design elements and help your b2b company with brand consistency. However, it should not be a substitute for a solid product or service offering that addresses a customer’s needs effectively. The identity is a tool to attract potential customers and retain customers. If you spend time investing heavily in creating a visually appealing logo with a professional designer, website design, or branding material but don’t provide a solution that meets the specific needs of the potential customer, the customers are unlikely to be impressed by the identity. Rather, they will focus on the shortcomings of the product or service.

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