We live in strange times.
It’s an old cliché, but it’s never felt more appropriate in the post-pandemic B2B world. Ways of working, implementation of technology, changing client needs – a patchwork of different elements are causing B2B businesses across the globe to step back and take stock of where they are and how they can move forward.
A major part of this review is all about brand. Businesses are looking at if, where and how their current brand fits into the current landscape – and if it doesn’t, many are considering taking things a step further with a brand refresh.
At Earnest, we’ve heard a lot of reasons over the last 12 months about why our clients are at this point of change for their brand – here are just a few of them:
We hear all kinds of other reasonings too, and if you have one we haven’t mentioned, we’d love to hear about it! For more insights into brand reboots after covid, have a read of another of our Earnest blogs for the bigger picture. Whatever the thought process behind your rebrand, the point is you aren’t alone. Across all kinds of sectors, all kinds of industries, there is a big change happening in the post-covid landscape.
So far, so good – you know the why of your rebrand, so what about the how?
B2B is reshaping itself in the wake of the lockdowns but one thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of strategy. Knowing the challenges and opportunities of rebranding in 2022 and beyond and including them in your plan is the foundation for getting your new brand off the ground.
So what are those questions you’ll need to ask yourself ahead of a rebrand in the 2022 B2B landscape? We’re way ahead of you:
If there’s one big thing we’ve learned from the pandemic, it’s that digital is here to stay. A recent McKinsey report found that more than 70% of B2B decision makers prefer remote human interaction or digital self-service, a figure that increased steadily with time spent in lockdown. This impressive finding shows that we’ve broken past the frontiers of digital and find ourselves emerging blinking and bright-eyed into a digital B2B future.
Your new brand has to find its place in that future, and that means you’ll need to ask yourself how your rebrand strategy incorporates digital at every level. Does your brand tell your customers that you’re always online? Are you bringing out the humanity of your business to convince customers there’s a real person behind the screen? Have you incorporated social media, video content and smartphone interaction in your strategy?
Also consider the transition from offline to online: how do your brand pillars translate to digital experiences? How are you ensuring that those pillars are captured in your digital assets and platforms? These are all big digital questions you’ll want answered before you forge ahead.
Across every sector, B2B businesses are embracing a greener outlook, both for business and ethical reasons, as evidenced by mega-investor BlackRock’s move to make sustainability their new standard for investing. In short, environmental issues are a big deal in B2B spheres.
The smartest of the new wave of green businesses are positioning sustainability up front and center for their brand and that means you should be doing the same with your rebrand – but let’s be clear: you need to be authentic. Your brand messaging about sustainability has to be backed up by actions; if you can’t deliver on the eco-friendly initiatives you shout about, then you’ll be far better off leaving sustainability out of your marketing altogether.
Similarly, you need to be absolutely clear on what you intend to do and how you intend to do it – audiences do not respond well to vague promises about ‘creating a greener future’. Be clear in your eco-objectives and remember, sustainability is only going to get more important so nailing the essentials with your rebrand is crucial.
Most businesses are in a fundamentally different place than they were before the pandemic. For many, the same goes for the way they sell their product and that means a key change in your business’ relationship with your clients.
For instance, research from Accenture tells us that nearly half of SMBs have invested in increased infrastructure for online sales . If you’re one of those businesses, you need to make sure that your new brand reflects your new approach to selling your product. That means asking questions about how your customers interact with your sales team, what they can expect from their new customer journey and how exactly your sales approach has changed.
A brand refresh has to be built on a long-term vision – creating a brand that responds to the pandemic and does nothing else is not a brand that will go far. When you’re building out a brand strategy, you’ll need to ask yourself whether the changes you’re putting in place are the kind that can stand up in the years and decades to come. This focus was the driving force behind our work with research and insights company Savanta, a brand refresh which set out the client as a long-term force for change in their industry.
As a topical example, take the recent news that Facebook is rebranding into what it calls a ‘metaverse’. A Forbes article states that the catalyst behind this change comes from recent bad press surrounding the brand, suggesting an element of reactionary short-term thinking – in reality, the change could well be part of a long term strategy to restrict bad press to products rather than the overall Facebook holding company. You need to be asking similar questions of your rebrand: are there long-term opportunities you can take advantage of with some forward thinking in the here and now?
To give you a starting point to jump in from, we like to ask our clients things like ‘where do you see the business in ten years time?’ or ‘if you were to describe the business to a world leader what would you say?’. Asking yourself questions like these are an excellent way to step away from the short-term and start thinking about the future.
Of course, it’s not just businesses that are changing, but also their customers. The way customers interact with brands and the way they choose products has shifted – customers are more solution driven, they’ve got higher expectations than ever before and they’re all about values and experiences.
You need to be asking whether your brand takes these changes into account. What do your customers think of your current brand in light of the pandemic? Is it matching their expectations? Brands are far more than just headlines and fancy websites – they’re full-bodied experiences, both offline and online – that’s why It’s crucial that your new brand caters to the experience your customers are looking for.
At Earnest, B2B branding strategy and creative are our thing. We’re award-winning specialists who love a challenge, helping B2B businesses carve out new brands that break the mold and chase out the humdrum.
If you’re looking for a B2B agency that can answer all the above questions with insights, style and strategic thinking, get in touch!