Your brand is your public identity. Your company will have a brand, whether you actively manage it or not. But it quite literally pays to have a well managed and cultivated one. It can help you stand out from your competitors and lead to a good public perception of your company, making for a more successful business.
Your overall company branding strategy can have different focus areas to cover all bases - from employee branding to candidate engagement - each must be focussed on your users’ needs and pain points.
Cultivating a great brand starts with storytelling.
The public perception of you can weigh on the opinion of the loudest voice in the room - which often belongs to the person who’s the least happy. This is exactly why you need to spend time cultivating your own narrative.
You need to dig into your values, mission, vision, and purpose because building a brand that tells an authentic and gripping story starts from the ground up. Spending this time up front will make it easier to define your tone of voice and target audience. It’ll make decisions around marketing strategy, design, and even PR, much easier. Why? Because you’ll be confident in who you are and what value you’re offering - to both the public and your employees.
Even if you’re a corporate business, you can still have fun with this. We’d even go so far as to say you need to have fun with it if you want to make a real mark. Take banking, for example. Money is serious business. But Monzo have a lighthearted approach. They’ve managed to cultivate a trustworthy brand (which is incredibly important when you’re dealing with people’s money) while having fun. They use social media to regularly emphasise the company’s silly sense of humour, and to demonstrate how much they prioritise important values like inclusivity in their workplace.
Serious business doesn’t have to mean serious branding.
You can’t get much more serious than life insurance. It’s one of those things that keeps getting bumped to tomorrow’s to-do list - because thinking about what happens to loved ones when we die isn’t something that people tend to enjoy thinking about. But Dead Happy’s branding changes that. They make getting life-insurance a fun experience.
They push the boundaries and aren’t for the faint hearted, but it’s definitely working for them. Note that they’re not being edgy for edgy’s sake. Their branding serves a real purpose in their mission - that’s why it works. Essentially their mission is to make a difficult experience easier, and change people’s attitudes towards death. They’re making people think, and they’re starting a conversation.
Not every life insurance company can get away with calling themselves “The John Lewis of Death”. But they can. Because their personality is what’s going to make people stop and think, and ultimately propel the company forwards on its mission.
A strong employer brand will help you attract top talent.
How you exist in the minds of employees and job seekers vs your customers and clients can differ slightly. So your employer branding strategy will specifically target your workforce and prospective hires.
With a great employer brand you’re likely to attract the right talent, have happier people, higher productivity levels, and better retention rates. According to Glassdoor, 92% of employees would consider changing jobs with no salary increase if the opportunity was with a company that had an excellent reputation. That same survey found that up to 86% of job seekers would not consider working for a company with “bad social standing”.
On the flip side, a terrible employer brand will get you… the opposite.
According to the Harvard Business Review, a company with 10,000 employees could be spending as much as $7.6 million* in additional wages to make up for a poor employer brand. *That’s over £6.1 million at the time of publishing this article.
Employer branding doesn’t solely apply to jobseekers and employees.
Brands like Monzo, who showcase their friendly, professional, and sometimes silly work environment to the world, will influence the perception that the general public (consumers and clients included) has of their company as a whole.
In research conducted by Mckinsey, they found that about 33% of millennial and Gen Z consumers say they choose to buy from a company that shares their values. That doesn’t sound like much but when you compare it with only 12% of baby boomers who said the same, you can see that the trend for buying from companies that align with personal values is growing.
So using your brand as a way to express your core values as a business will not only attract better talent, but it’ll also attract more customers.
Can B2B branding be fun too?
B2B and B2C aren’t all that different. With B2B sales, you’re still selling to humans - they just happen to be at work.
According to the Harvard Business Review, 70-80% of B2B decision makers prefer remote interactions or digital self-service to in-person interactions. That means that B2B branding now has more power than ever before.
McKinsey’s insights further prove that theory - their research shows that 99% of B2B buyers claim they will make a purchase in an end-to-end digital self-serve model, with a whopping 70% “very comfortable” spending $50K or more online.
You can’t rely on every client seeing your beautiful face and having a chat with you before they buy. Your branding needs to have some personality if you’re going to make your clients’ experience with you an enjoyable and memorable one.
You don’t have to be a complete freak to stand out from the B2B crowd.
Oneflow, who help companies cut unnecessary costs related to contracts by automating workflows around them, and Deel, an all in one global hiring, HR, and payroll system, both humanise their branding with fun fonts, graphics, and colours. They also chat about their teams on social media, address their users’ pain points in a fun and approachable way, and post relatable content. The tone of voice for both these brands make your work day a bit more fun.
The important thing to take away from these two brands is that they both feel genuine. Injecting some personality into your branding will only work if it’s in line with your core values, which means you might have to go away with your team to do some soul searching (and perhaps hire an agency to help you) before you do a complete brand overhaul.
But, because we know you’re an eager beaver, we’ve got some starter questions that will help you get your branding on point, asap.
5 questions you can ask yourself to help you inject more personality into your branding…
What’s your one big industry ick?
It’s sometimes easier to define ourselves by who we aren’t, rather than who we are. Think about the stuff you disagree with in your industry. The stuff you steer clear from, or do differently. The recruitment industry can be thought of as quite transactional and target focussed, but maybe your business puts genuine long-lasting relationships with candidates and clients above all else?
What feelings do you want your customers/clients to feel when they encounter your brand?
The best way to sell stuff is to tap into people’s emotions. Colours, shapes, sounds, tone of voice, images - all of these things will be part of your branding and they all have the ability to trigger emotion.
Reed have nailed tapping into people’s emotions with their long standing Love Mondays campaign. They understand the pain point of their main target audience and use that to advertise a product that can heal that pain. Everyone wants to love their job so much that getting out of bed on a Monday is a joy. The Love Mondays tagline conveys the potential for people to feel something they’ve always wanted to - a feeling they might not have felt before - by using their service. It’s hard not to buy into something that offers a solution to a long standing problem that you’ve always wanted to solve, but maybe didn’t even think was possible.
What’s the one big problem that your company solves for your clients/customers?
Every good business solves a problem. If you’re able to zero in on the one you solve, you can get specific with your messaging, so you can target more of the right people.
What really excites you about the way your business works?
It’s likely that whatever excites you about your business is what makes you different from the rest. Maybe you love making new connections, or building relationships with candidates and seeing their personal growth? There’s a high chance that your clients and candidates love those things too.
What are some businesses outside of your industry that you think do branding and marketing really well?
It can be easy to do the same thing everyone else is doing. One way to avoid this when building your voice is to steal things that resonate with you from totally different industries. Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to come up with awful ideas that definitely won’t work. It’s all part of the process.
Good branding takes time.
Strong branding isn’t necessarily weird or super fun - strong branding is genuine. We can’t say this enough - if you’re not being authentic, it’s not going to work (not for long anyway). So before you come up with something completely unconventional, stop and think about who you are, who you’re serving, and why. Really strong brands aren’t built overnight. And you might need some help to do it.