A Brand Strategy Template for B2B Startups

Brand Strategy TemplateThis post is geared towards B2Bs building their brand strategy for the first time and/or wanting to get to market quickly, but it can also be used by businesses wanting to rebrand or go to the next level.

Before delving into your marketing and sales communication plans, you must have a framework for what your company’s brand is about and how you want to be perceived. Everything you build, say and do as a company should be based on your Brand Strategy.

There are many ways to approach this.

For example:

  • Some start with a name, logo, elevator speech and product/service description, then jump straight to website development, PR and advertising, and figure out the rest as they go (or forego the brand strategy exercise altogether).
  • Others invest heavily in research and analysis to understand the market landscape, competition, etc. up front; and to ensure they know their best opportunities and their target audience’s needs and mindset inside and out (rather than working from a place of ‘opinions’ and ‘assumptions’).

As a marketing consultant, I recommend the latter because to invest in research and decide up front how you want to be perceived and how you should look, sound, act and be as a company will save you money later and set you up for faster success.

But I also know that in reality many companies want to get to the market quickly and test the waters, and therefore don’t have the patience or budget for in-depth processes and analysis that will hold them up. This brand strategy template helps those who want to be smart and thoughtful but also want to streamline/speed up the process.

Brand Strategy Template for B2Bs or Startups

Here is a mock brand strategy for illustration purposes:

XYZ, Inc. sells technology to companies that want to automate critical accounting processes that cost thousands/millions each year.

Company Mission
Improve our customer’s bottom line by 50% in less than six months.

  • Why this is important: If this is in fact your mission, you need to think through what you’ll have to invest in and do to achieve it. Walk the walk.

 
Brand Position
A tech company that actually understands business process and the accounting function.

  • Why this is important: If you want people to think/feel a certain way about you when they hear/see your name, everything you do as a company will need to be considered (even as far as staff member tone and behavior when answering the phone). The Brand Position statement is not a message; it’s an internal statement that confirms the strategy to all employees. Very important to understand the difference between an internal position statement and “positioning” (which comes later in the process).

 
Unique Value Proposition
The only company that has the know-how, innovative technology and proper processes and support to automate your accounting business processes quickly and efficiently.

  • Why this is important: If you want to stand out from the competition and make a connection with your target buyer, you need to be clear on how you’re different and why they should care about you.

 
Reasons to Believe Our Claims
Our top 50 customers say that [insert feedback themes/testimonials]. Our team consists of process junkies who’ve worked in business functions just like yours and know how to dig beneath the surface to get at the most costly problems quickly, and we have invested heavily in top technologists that have long track records developing innovative, user-friendly IT solutions.

  • Why this is important: You need to confirm in advance how you will support your claims in the marketplace as well as in sales conversations, meetings with reporters, etc.

 
Brand Attributes
Committed, passionate, analytical, intelligent, thoughtful, careful, innovative, customer-centric, forthright, honest, consultative.

  • Why this is important: It helps to agree on the human aspect and personality of your brand. It can define/shape your culture and will ultimately inform your brand’s look and messaging.

 
Audience Promise
If you are a [X] who [Y}, we promise you will see significant cost savings in less than 6 months by using our technology, and that we will complete your migration quickly so that business is not disrupted and employees feel confident and empowered.

  • Why this is important: Similar to the mission statement, put a stake in the ground about what you are promising and make sure you can deliver on it. If everyone on your team knows what the promise is, you will create a culture that’s united and customer-centric.

 
Messaging Tone
We want to add value by showing our customers meaningful ways to automate manual business processes so that they cut costs and improve the bottom line as quickly as possible. We are proud of our capabilities from both a technology and human standpoint and strive to be relevant and helpful to our clients every single day.

  • Why this is important: This helps confirm your philosophy and guiding principles, and sets the stage for how you will consider detailed messaging and branding elements later in the process.

 
Elevator Pitch
We save customers thousands (sometimes millions). XYZ, Inc. is a technology company that automates critical accounting business processes quickly and easily. We help businesses cut costs by 50% or more in less than 6 months (on average).

  • Why this is important: If you take a stab at your elevator pitch (articulation of what you do that gets the person to say; “Great, tell me more.”) based on the other elements, it sets the foundation for how you will express your value in 30 seconds or less. You may change it later as you flush out your brand story and messaging, but it can be helpful to include a first take in your framework.

 
Tagline(s)
Empowering you to get things done quicker and more accurately.

  • Why this is important: Similar to the elevator pitch, it can be good to take a stab at a tagline early in an attempt to boil down your brand’s message for the benefit of employees. This can be refined as you flush out your messaging.

 
Final Thoughts

  • The process for how you confirm each of these elements varies as mentioned above. For those who want to work quickly, you can streamline it but you should try at a minimum to compile a few strategic insights to guide everyone in the organization about what should go in the slots. Try to resist the temptation to decide all these elements based on internal opinion and guesswork—rarely does that work out without spending more money later because your audience rarely thinks about what you do and offer the way that you do.
  • You can hire a marketing consultant or brand agency or delegate someone internally who’s been through the process to organize and facilitate this exercise. One way to compare is to think of an advertising slogan or tagline like Nike’s “Just Do It” or Apple’s “Think Different-Change the World”. These seem simple on paper but in most cases months (and sometimes years) of research, analysis, discussion and iterations were completed to boil the company’s message down and come up with advertising slogans.
  • What happens next: Once your baseline brand strategy is complete you can decide other elements of your strategy such as brand identity (look n’ feel), brand ‘story’, messaging and content approach, service/support details, product/technology enhancements, etc.

 
photo credit: Mukumbura via photopin cc

Lydia Vogtner

By : Lydia Vogtner

Lydia Vogtner is an independent B2B marketing and communications consultant specializing in marketing, messaging and content strategy.

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