The legend of B2B brand building

And how recovering it could reignite your flagging sales

‘And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost.
History became legend. Legend became myth.’

JRR Tolkien (Prologue to The Fellowship of the Ring)

There’s a legend in B2B marketing circles.

An idea that was once received wisdom, but over time has become drowned out by the need for new.

Some feared it may be lost forever. Others believed it’s star would shine again one day.

From podcasts to blogs, research reports to white papers – it seems the legend that became myth is making a comeback.

The tale being told? That long-term growth in B2B comes from building your brand (not simply activating your sales).

‘We’re stuck in the mud’

Plateaued. Stalled. Stuck. These are the words we’re hearing B2B leaders use to describe their sales – and in some cases, their business as a whole.

The hard push on sales activation (big targets, demand gen content, lead gen activities) has left the troops exhausted, and the generals wondering where to turn to next.

For many, it feels like a battle, a slog – with leaders realising pushing harder doesn't mean growing faster.

The problem? Too many purpose-led businesses are pursuing the right ends (‘good growth’) with the wrong means (the big sales push). They are waging a ‘downstream’ war of attrition, all the while neglecting the ‘upstream’ battle for hearts and minds.

Consider this:

‘Time to play a different game’

B2B leaders are catching on. Many are reviving the forgotten art of brand building – being a consistent and compelling presence in the minds of their target audience (without the need to constantly push the “buy now” message).

Even traditionally sales-led organisations are waking up to the idea their B2B brand might just give them an edge – tapping into the power of humanity and emotion (in the way their B2C counterparts have for many years).

The key to success? Figuring out how you are going to win at each stage of The Brand Demand Curve:

The Brand Demand Curve

The goal isn't to ram home a rational sales message with the help of non-stop content marketing and gung-ho sales reps. The aim is to draw your audience into an ever closer connection with your brand - the services, the people, the promise.

Until, in the end, you become the preferred (or, even better, the only) choice on the table.

‘Let’s redraw our battle plans’

The challenge? Switching to a more ‘upstream’ approach (where greater emphasis is placed on brand building activities – in support of the existing sales activation push) involves going back to the drawing board.

It requires asking some tough questions of your current brand. Like:

  • Is our positioning deliberate and differentiated?
  • Is our messaging clear and compelling?
  • Is our overall brand meaningful and memorable?

Because without those foundations in place, your brand building push will probably fail – like an all-out-assault without the right weaponry.

But get those foundations right, and you unlock the potential of your brand to be the difference maker – reinvigorating the frontline troops and changing the battle in your favour.

This isn’t anything original or newfangled. It’s not a sexy trend, or the latest frontier in the world of marketing.

To (mis)quote JRR Tolkien: “Perhaps this is the rediscovery of a legend that should never have been forgotten.”

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