As marketers in the B2B space, we love data. We love using those hard-line metrics to track, analyze and optimize our efforts to blast past competitor benchmarks — but of course, too much of a good thing can be harmful to your business.
By focusing too hard on being data-driven, many B2B companies have lost sight of the importance of brand. For a genuine boost in the effectiveness and profitability of your marketing efforts, you need to start caring about not only what your content makes prospects do but also how your content makes them feel.
In other words, you need to start caring about your brand. At the end of the day, your brand is what will help set you apart from your competitors and evangelize the customers at the center of your flywheel.
But that’s not all you got wrong about branding. Here are the 5 brand awareness myths that are hurting your business.
5 Brand Awareness Myths that Are Hurting Your Business
Myth #1: Brand awareness can’t be measured.
It’s true that “awareness” is an abstract concept that can’t easily be translated into numbers. But contrary to popular belief, there are quantitative measures you can take to understand the reach and appeal of your brand.
Net Promoter Scores (NPS), social media engagement and vanity metrics like views, shares and impressions can help you gauge awareness of your brand. If prospects are interacting with your content in a positive way, then your brand is reaching and resonating with them appropriately.
However, be careful not to place too much importance on vanity metrics. While these metrics do help you calculate how much visibility your brand is getting, they don’t necessarily translate into revenue for your business. Continue to track and measure the ROI of your marketing content through revenue-driving metrics like conversions and click-through rates.
You might want to take note of the way prospects are engaging with your competitors’ content as well. If your prospects are more interested in your competitors’ content than yours, that’s a sign that you need to revisit your branding strategy to discern whether or not it’s resonating with the right people.
Myth #2: All press is good press.
You’re probably familiar with the idea that any mention of your brand in the media, even in a negative context, is good publicity. However, this idea can be extremely damaging to your business.
There is, in fact, a difference between good brand awareness and bad brand awareness. You don’t want to tarnish your brand with a PR nightmare, because once that mark is made on your brand, it will always be there in some capacity. Depending on the severity of the scandal, it may be impossible for your brand to come back into favor.
Luckily, most marketers will intuitively focus on building positive brand awareness, even if they still hold to this belief. When you’re developing your brand awareness strategy, be sure to focus on the good aspects of your company and try to avoid sensitive topics, competitor insults or other publicity with a negative slant.
Myth #3: Brand awareness is expensive.
Often, when people think of brand awareness, they think of promotional items, flashy billboards and other expensive promotional items. While these things can play a part in building awareness for your brand, there are certainly less expensive options available to you.
Ultimately, your brand is less about a flashy logo or an expensive branding stunt and more about your content, your people and your overall company vibe. The essence of your brand breaks through in the way that your employees interact with prospects and customers, the positioning of your content and the overall values your company represents.
By establishing these foundational branding elements early on and sticking to them, you can create a strong, compelling brand that stands the test of time.
Also, don’t make the mistake of thinking that brand awareness tactics don’t have a return on investment. Obviously, this isn’t like pay-per-click advertising where you can see the results immediately. It will take some time before you see any ROI from your brand awareness investments, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth it. Be patient.
Myth #4: Building brand awareness requires outbound tactics.
Many people approach brand awareness from an outbound standpoint, jumping into things like commercials, billboards and other broad, outbound channels.
However, you can certainly build awareness for your brand in an inbound way. You do this by incorporating your brand and values into all of your content. Subtle, inbound indicators of brand include:
The voice, tone and style of your email promotions.
The creativity of the author bios on your blog.
The atmosphere and itinerary of sponsored events.
The topics you cover in your company podcast.
By incorporating small brand boosters like these into your existing content, you can enhance your brand and build awareness and engagement among your prospects.
In that sense, we prefer the term “brand equity” over “brand awareness.” Unlike brand awareness, which implies that mere visibility would suffice, brand equity refers to the value and strength of your brand, and that’s what we’re really getting at here: to build awareness for your brand in an inbound way, you need to make your brand not only visible to a greater number of people but also valuable to those people.
Myth #5: Only new companies need to work on building their brand.
Obviously, new, startup companies need to put a lot of time and energy into building their reach and establishing their brand in the market — but you don’t have to stop there. In fact, you shouldn’t.
Your brand should evolve as your product, customer base and overall company direction evolves. Therefore, you need to revisit your branding strategy with every evolution of your company. As you transition into the expansion stage, make sure your brand is aligned with your company goals. When you reach the enterprise level, you’ll be able to build the strength of your brand even more because you’ll have more resources available to you.
The point is, your brand, like any marketing initiative, should never stay static. Continuously re-visit and re-optimize your branding strategy to ensure it supports the current needs and goals of your company.
As Warren Buffet once said, “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.”
Sure, building awareness for your brand will take time, patience, concentrated effort and likely, a great deal of trial and error — but if you do it right, it can be an incredibly valuable differentiator for your brand. If you do it wrong, it can cripple your business.
Now that we’ve cleared up these five myths, you can refocus your brand awareness endeavors and begin building a strong, unique and compelling voice for your company.