After 20 years specialising in B2B marketing, I’m about to make an uncomfortable admission. Possibly one that will put a few noses out of joint among my colleagues.
In creative branding terms, B2B marketing is not a helpful phrase.
While it might not be up there with the invention of the wheel or the discovery of fire in terms of significance to the human race, this one breakthrough principle might help your branding – and so your business – become more effective than ever.
The essential problem is this. As soon as we put that B2B marketing hat on, all thought of people, of individuals, and the Pandora’s box of emotions that motivate them, goes right out of the (office rather than home) window. Instead, we become subsumed by the pursuit of sentiment-free business banality, and worship at the altar of corporate largesse.
And that’s wrong. For a brand to succeed – to be memorable, to resonate, to be the preferred choice – it needs to have humanity at its heart. Less business-to-business, and more human-to-human.
Before this theory is dismissed as an unmeasurable, intangible nice-to-have, there is some science to back it up. In 2019, Deloitte Digital conducted a report, The Human Experience: Quantifying the Value of Human Values. In it, the report writers concluded that the human condition is ‘universal and unchanging’, meaning it could be understood and measured.
Measuring the human experience
Taking three core indices – customer values, workforce values and partner values –Deloitte was able to identify the ‘human centricity’ of an organisation, and predict those that were likely to grow faster and build stronger brand loyalty. Applying this measure to a testbed of brands in the fast-food sector, it found that those which focused on the human experience were twice as likely to outperform their peers in revenue growth over three years, and have 17 times faster store growth than those who don’t. Quite a prize then.
In carrying out the research, Deloitte also highlighted five ‘core human tenets’ that elevate the ‘human experience’ of a brand.
· Be obsessed by all things human
· Proactively deliver on human needs
· Execute with humanity
· Be authentic
· Change the world
But what does this mean for you when you’re developing and delivering your brand to the world? For us, it means considering the fundamental building blocks…
Great brands are built on great stories. And great stories are always about emotion. Things that capture our attention, stir our souls, fascinate or move us, leave us wanting to know (or feel) more. This is where your brand should begin, even if you’re operating in the most heavy-duty B2B markets.
Three or four years ago, I heard something said in a presentation that’s stuck with me ever since – ‘authenticity beats perfection’. And authenticity comes from us being human. When we’re authentic, we’re true to ourselves and the reality that lies behind our brands. Customers and prospects are able to trust us, to engage with us fully and to become familiar with what we stand for. They believe in us.
Technology drives today’s marketing. But technology should always be a means to create richer, deeper human-to-human connections through more intuitive and immersive digital experiences. Whether it’s AR, VR, AI, automation, or anything else, the way people experience your brand through technology must always bring them closer to you. And the same goes for the physical world. In creating a truly H2H brand, experience is everything.
The way your brand looks, feels, sounds and talks all have a part to play in its humanity. Have a personality. Avoid business jargon. Communicate like a person. Don’t use staid, cliched corporate imagery and stale, high-fiving commercial footage. Look for those unique, human moments in time that tell stories and create positive emotional associations. Be different. Be unique. Be you.
Breathing life into your brand
Getting to the heart of your brand’s humanity isn’t always an easy thing to do. We’re all so engrained in the traditional patterns of B2B thinking and speaking that it’s often lost amidst the front-of-mind commercial arguments we’re inevitably drawn to. But make no mistake – it’s essential if you’re going to invest in a brand that’s both measurable and memorable. And one that moves human hearts and B2B minds.
Want to know more about some of the brands we’ve helped build for our B2B clients? Take a look here.
If you have an upcoming project you’d like to discuss with us, or learn more about the principles of H2H branding, please get in touch today.