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B2B Brands: How to Build Brand Advantage

I don’t usually do a straight reprint of another blog article, but this one is too important not to share with my clients — most of whom are B2B (business to business). My perception is that frequently technology and financial marketers think their brand needs to feel uber-professional, so not much personality is revealed. But after all, it’s still speaking to people, albeit people representing a company. According to Marc Di Somma of Brand Strategy Insider, this is just one mistake. Here’s the reprint:

1. Build your authority – the fastest way to de-risk the decision to go with you is to show that you are a wise choice. Do that through story and demonstration not hype and hope. Shape what you say about yourselves so that you make sense as the choice to everyone who will make the decision about whether to use you. Much of the perceived value of powerful B2B brands like GE is predicated on the market’s understanding of the worth of their vast knowledge across all the markets they choose to do business in.

2. Be uplifting – genuine energy is hugely infectious. People want to do business with brands that are passionate about what they do and the difference they can make. Present problems internally in ways that inspire people to solve them, and present your findings and answers with gusto but humility. There’s huge power in suggestion. In areas like consulting, for example, the most powerful B2B brands are those that people want to be in the room with because they’re excited about what they’ll hear.

3. Problem solve – it’s not about what you offer, it’s all about what they need. Yes, everyone says they know that, but precious few act on it. Instead, they focus on displaying their own expertise rather than discussing how that expertise could be applied. Market yourselves as a brand that understands and is working to positively address the issues that come between your clients and their objectives. Put what you know in the context of what your client or prospect needs to address. Ideo is a great example of this approach in action.

4. Have real personality – so many B2B brands are afraid of being anything other than beige. They worry that it compromises their “professionalism”, whatever that is. Not true. Stand apart by presenting yourselves in a colorful and savvy way – in your actions and in your marketing. Mailchimp are a prime example of an email marketer with a strong and instantly recognizable voice. Remember, your brand puts a face to the resources you have available. It brings your experience and knowledge alive. It telegraphs powerful messages quickly and decisively. Work with that. In today’s aesthetically aware world, beauty inspires confidence because it signals attention to detail.

5. Listen carefully – monitor the market, provide input, shape debate, engage with others and take onboard what you get back. Then share the insights you’ve gathered generously. A brand that listens and reports is a brand that others also come to look to for cues. Take up a cause. Speaking for the industry to consumers or on behalf of consumers to the industry bestows authority and authenticity and makes you a critical pivot in the journey to resolution. IBM with its Global CEO Study and Edelman PR with its Trust Barometer are great examples of B2B brands that have put themselves at the center of valuable and dynamic conversations this way.

6. Start relationships early – expressing an interest in doing business with another brand and then exhibiting the patience to wait till a slot becomes available shows planning and discipline. Look for ways to involve your executives as an unofficial sounding board for difficult decisions that the target company is facing. Show them you want to see them prosper before you ask them to help your bottom line. Pitch doctor Neil Flett has said that a high stakes pitch is often won or lost long before the presentation takes place.

7. Open doors – making introductions that display no self interest reinforces trust and helps businesses perceive your brand as connected and enabling. You are part of the solution, despite the fact that you didn’t actually contribute directly in addressing the issue. Those introductions don’t have to be to other people or firms – they can be to thinkers, books, presentations or alternative viewpoints. LinkedIn has of course literally built a business out of being that global introducer.

Amen! Read the full article here »

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“What Is Branding?” by David Brier

Couldn’t have said it better myself! Enjoy…

Visit DBD International for more insights by this Fast Company blogger and brand innovator.

Via Design Taxi

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Inspiration: 10 Great Business Card Ideas

Aren’t you so bored of your 3.5″ x 2″ 4-color business card? Well, let’s push it out of the rectangle! Print doesn’t get much attention in these days of the Interwebs and Facebooks, but there are a few places where putting the effort into something really unique is worth it. Especially if you actually hand your business card to another person, making it remarkable will make you memorable. Here are some inspiring examples. See more on the original post »

1. Make-up Artist

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Advertising Agency: OpusMúltipla, Curitiba, Brazil

2. Framing Company

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Advertising Agency: Piko, Moldova

3. Fitness Trainer

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Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

4. Sommelier

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Caserne

5. Bike Technician

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Rethink Canada

6. Dentist

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7. Smoke Shop

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Advertising Agency: Bos, Toronto, Canada

8. Investment Representative

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Advertising Agency: Rethink Canada

9. Yoga Center

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10. Divorce Attorney

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via Bored Panda

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Introducing The Dog Studio

Introducing The Dog Studio

AJ-MT-Shopped-SMA fresh approach to greeting cards and social stationery for dog lovers.

I’m excited to finally share my big news with you! For the past few months, I’ve been working hard at starting up an exciting venture with my sister, renown dog photographer Amanda Jones, and my brother-in-law Chris Jones. Our new company, The Dog Studio, pairs Amanda’s stunning dog portraits with my enthusiasm for beautiful design to create contemporary stationery and cards — and eventually gifts and home items. Very soon we will be releasing products that dog lovers (and lovers of dog lovers) across America will go crazy for! We hope.

Ultimately, we want to influence the quality of dog imagery used on products everywhere. And make beautiful cards and gifts. Our goal is to create products that are unique, smart and beautiful while giving back to the dog community. For that, we have created a “Royalties to the Rescue” program that makes financial and product donations to groups that help shelter dogs.

Here’s an example of our cards…

The Dog Studio Greeting Cards

The Dog Studio Greeting Cards

We will be launching to the resale trade in May at the National Stationery Show in New York City. In September we hope to launch our online store so everyone can buy one! Or two or twelve.

We hope you’ll come along for the ride! Learn more about it and how you can keep up with us at www.thedogstudio.com.

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The Workshop Workshop: “Facilitation by Design”

Facilitation by Design Workshop

This week I attended a workshop on…workshops. A part of AIGA‘s Design for Good initiative, “Facilitation by Design” was led by service design superstar Renna Al-Yassini of user experience firm Adaptive Path. With loads of experience under her belt leading diverse groups to successful solutions, Renna led us through her process of how to prepare and execute a productive collaborative session.

Workshops can help with…

…gathering information
…making decisions
…clarifying direction
…generating new ideas
…building consensus
…creating compromise
…making a plan
…gleaning knowledge
…engaging teams
…boosting morale

Why a Workshop?

Collaboration. Workshops (like designers!) are by nature collaborative. As opposed to a regular old sit-down meeting where people may discuss a topic, a workshop is designed to resolve a specific challenge question by engaging invested participants. Problem-solving is approached with pre-conceived activities designed to gain perspective from diverse participants. It’s the perspective of the participants that brings the most value to the session. Whether it’s designed for morale-building or to conceptualize improvements for the staff onboarding process, getting the right people in the room who can speak to the details of the problem and offer constructive insight toward a solution is key.

Problem-solving. Workshops solve problems, or at least one specific part of a bigger problem. They can be used to bring different community groups together for consensus-building and planning (like building a local dog park), or strategic planning for companies or nonprofit organizations. They can be used in the very beginnings of a project, such as the start of a new design initiative, or checking in on the progress of a longer-term project to see if the roadmap is on track. Or it can be used at the end of a project to set final deliverables and a launch plan.

Flexibility. The beauty of the workshop is its flexibility of application. Once you get that the collaboration can be designed to target any specific challenge question (that is, what do we want to accomplish by coming together?), you can see that it can be used to approach any business problem…or community or organizational challenge, for that matter. The problem can be big or small, involving many participants or just a few. Which brings us to…

Who Needs a Workshop?

Workshops are not limited to launching a new design initiative. Here are just a few examples of who can benefit from a workshop:

  • Nonprofit organizations for strategic planning
  • Banks for new line of business ideation
  • Community coalitions for creating a roadmap
  • Marketing departments for successful brand rollout
  • Corporate mergers for information gathering
  • HR departments for troubleshooting internal processes
  • Product development teams to review & refine product design

What’s your main business challenge right now? Maybe it’s time to reach out to an objective facilitator to create some structure and collaboration around tackling it.

For more information:

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