What's the point of B2B branding?

Branding for B2B companies is just as important as branding for consumer products if you want to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Branding feels like the domain of the major consumer players marketing their products to the general public, retailers trying to capture our attention on the high street or global corporations with big budgets to lavish on TV campaigns. Surely the priority for business to business is sales effort, especially where it is a complex or technical sell? The short response is, no.
Branding is equally valuable for B2B companies - based on the need to stand out from the competition, to attract and retain clients who recognise what your brand stands for, and to have a distinct identity and message for your business that can be promoted across all of your communications. Over time, good branding will support an added-value approach and maximise profitability, avoiding the need to fight on price alone.
A brand is not just a logo and it is not just reserved for products. Your business is a brand and you are missing a major opportunity if it is only a name. Brands always stand for something, whether it is innovation for Apple or safety for Volvo. They can be described, they have consistently applied colours, designs and a look that is easily recognised. Google's brand is enhanced by the playful way that it changes online with holidays, events or major news. It shows relevance, topicality and fits a search engine business perfectly. They have bent the rules but still fit the brand model because they are consistently applying their brand strategy.
Having a product sales focus leads to a standardised approach like, "we have great quality, service and responsiveness" which may well be true, but it is exactly the same message as every one of your major competitors. Creating your brand should make you hone in on what makes you distinctive, what your key messages are and how you can present them in a package that is your own. Avoid the 'me-too' approach like the plague. Be different and stand alone: be a brand-led business.
Alun Williams | 1 May 2016