A Brand Strategy Template for B2B Startups
This post is geared toward B2Bs building their brand strategy for the first time or needing to get to market quickly. Those wanting to rebrand or go to the next level can also use it.
The main point of it is: Everything you build, say, and do as a company should be based on your Brand Strategy.
Some B2B startups think that ‘brand strategy’ simply means coming up with a name, logo, elevator speech, domain, product/service descriptions, and pricing. Others think strategically and first invest in research and analysis to understand: 1) their target audience’s needs and mindset; 2) the industry & competitive landscape; 3) new or different opportunities to connect & stand out. They then use these insights to shape their Brand Strategy.
As a marketing consultant I recommend the latter approach because it will set you up for faster success. I also know that many companies want to get to the market quickly and test – they don’t have the patience or budget for in-depth processes and analyses that will hold them up.
So, this template helps those who want to be smart and thoughtful, but also want to speed up the process.
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.
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.
The tech company that actually understands business process and the accounting function.
- Why this is important: To get 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 (including nuanced things like staff member tone and behavior when answering the phone or sending an email). The Brand Position statement is not a message; it’s an internal statement that confirms the strategy to all employees. It’s important to understand the difference between an internal position statement and messaging.
Unique Value Proposition
The only company that has the know-how, innovative technology, and proper processes + support to automate your accounting business processes quickly and efficiently.
- Why this is important: If you want to stand out 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
Reason 1: Our top 50 customers say that [fill in the blank].
Reason 2: Our team has process junkies who’ve worked in business functions just like yours. We know how to dig beneath the surface to get at the most costly problems quickly.
Reason 3: We’ve invested heavily in top technologists that know how to develop innovative, user-friendly IT solutions.
- Why this is important: Confirm in advance how you will support your claims in the marketplace as well as in sales conversations, meetings with reporters, etc.
Committed, passionate, analytical, intelligent, thoughtful, innovative, consultative.
- Why this is important: Agree on the human aspect and personality of your brand. This shapes your culture and informs your brand’s look and messaging.
We add value by showing our customers meaningful ways to automate manual business processes so that they cut costs and improve the bottom line quickly. 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: Decide early how you’ll talk about your value proposition, philosophies, and guiding principles at a high level. This sets the stage for detailed messaging and branding elements later in the process.
We’re a technology company that saves customers thousands (sometimes millions) by cutting accounting business costs in half (or more) in less than 6 months.
- Why this is important: Practice your elevator pitch early to see if you can answer the question, “What do you do?” in a way that makes the listener say: “Great, tell me more.” You may change it later, but it helps to include a first take in your framework.
Empowering you to get things done quicker and more accurately.
- Why this is important: Similar to the elevator pitch, it can be good to draft a tagline early in an attempt to boil down your brand’s message. This can be refined as you flush out your messaging.
The process to confirm each of these elements varies. Here’s two tips if you must work fast:
- Compile at least a few strategic insights to guide everyone in the organization about what should go in the slots.
- 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.
Consider hiring a marketing consultant or brand agency, or delegating someone internally who’s been through the process to organize insights and facilitate conclusions. Why? Because this work is relatively simple, but rarely easy.
Once your baseline is complete you can decide other elements of your strategy such as brand identity (look n’ feel), brand narrative/story, communications and content strategy, product enhancements, service/support details, etc.
Contact me if I can help.
Updated Sept, 2022
photo credit: Mukumbura via flickr