Friday, March 31, 2006

A Tag Line is a Good Start. But Are You Sustaining the Brand Narrative?

Determining your company's brand premise is tough. Finding a tag line that captures and communicates that brand premise is tougher. But in B to B, sustaining and leveraging a brand narrative over the course of an entire print brochure or web site is next to impossible. At least, that's the impression I get browsing the web sites of far too many B to B enterprises.

On the web, Branding 101 means tag line and logo appear in the page header (usually upper left) that's repeated on every page in the site. Far too many companies, though, do virtually nothing else in their web site content to lend credibility to their desired brand premises.

The missed opportunity here is the chance to make explicit for people why the company should uniquely own its desired brand premise as articulated in the company's tag line.

Consider this fictitious, but representative, example of a company we'll call Grimley Molding. Suppose Grimley's tag line is "Pioneering spirit, pragmatic value." That's a pretty clear indication of how Grimley wants to be known in the marketplace.

But if Grimley is like many, that initial declaration of the brand premise is also where the brand conversation ends. Go to the Capabilities section of Grimley's site, and you'll see bulleted lists of services and equipment, with no indication in the copy as to how Grimley's capabilities reinforce a unique claim to "Pioneering spirit, pragmatic value." Regardless of the specific medium—web, print, direct marketing, or whatever—making that explicit connection between brand premise and all other content is fundamental to sustaining a brand narrative. And it's a point that's lost on an alarming number of otherwise sophisticated B to B companies.

So who does it well? One particularly effective example of sustaining a B to B brand narrative online is Accenture.

Note how the tag line "High performance. Delivered." is not only included in the upper left of every page, but also deepened on subsequent pages via a variety of anecdotes about what high performers do (check the right side of the header on each page).

Click through to some of the Services pages, and you'll see content that explicitly ties Accenture's capabilities and approaches to its unique ability to deliver high performance. All of which makes the difference between a snappy tag line and a compelling, credible, differentiating and sustained brand conversation.

Great stuff. And good learning for anyone looking to build a stronger B to B brand.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Welcome to Inside B to B Marketing

What the world doesn't need now is another blog, right? Well, depends.

Today, B-to-B enterprises of all sizes are finding new reasons to invest in strategic, brand-based communications. Small and mid-market companies in particular are discovering what their larger counterparts have known for a long time: that there's a strong link between strong brands and strong business performance. Increased sales? Absolutely. But also the ability to fend off price-based competition. Enhanced recruitment and retention. Crisis mitigation. And perhaps most important to privately held companies, greater enterprise value.

As such, we're launching this blog to produce new knowledge and dialogue on B-to-B communications. Look for frequent commentaries on everything from the do's and don'ts of B-to-B branding, to what works and what doesn't in B-to-B Public Relations, to direct marketing tools and tricks, online communications trends and much more. We'll sprinkle in liberal amounts of business perspective as well—just what you'd expect from communications experts who are also business professionals.

What won't you see? A daily diary of life in our company. If something happens inside Scheibel Halaska that we think you'd care about as a B-to-B marketing professional, we'll pass it along. But we'll save baby news and bowling scores for another venue. Promise.