Bringing Brand Back to B2B

May 4, 2023

In just seconds, ChatGPT can help marketers crank out blogs to fuel their content engines and improve SEO, write headlines that will drive the most clicks, or craft a sales email with messages proven to drive higher conversion rates. But if we’re all looking at the same sources, customers will soon be drowning in a sea of sameness – and so will your brand. This quest for endless optimization will reach diminishing returns, even as the level of effort for marketers gets lower with each new AI technology release.

More than ever, standing out in the B2B space means investing in a unique, ownable, and memorable brand. While it’s harder to show immediate business return on brand investment, building a strong brand is critical to customer growth, talent acquisition and retention, and investor value.

Brand drives business

Consider this simple example from LinkedIn: when users were served only activation marketing (“Sign Up For A Credit Card Now!”), the conversion rate was only 0.2%. When users were first exposed to brand marketing (“We Are A Credit Card Company!”) and then activation marketing, the conversion rate increased to 1.2% – a 6X performance lift!

We’ve found similar trends with our integrated campaigns. When we have brand awareness tactics in market (such as digital video and connected TV, streaming and terrestrial radio), they improve the conversion in our lower funnel efforts, such as paid search and LinkedIn. For example, for a recent non-profit client’s campaign, when our brand building tactics were in market we saw that donations were 5.7x higher than with just lower funnel tactics.

In B2B industries, brand marketing is especially important when:

  • There is little to no real product differentiation
  • You’re selling professional services
  • You don’t want to compete on price
  • Buying committee is large and complex
  • Average deal size is large
  • Sales cycles are long


Think long-term – for customers and talent

While lower funnel efforts can help convert accounts you already know and who are already in market for a solution, B2B companies are missing out on hundreds of potential opportunities by not investing in building their brands. Experts from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute estimate that at any given time, only 5% to 10% of customers are in market. Brand creative builds lasting memories in the minds of future buyers, memories that are likely to be recalled when those out-of-market buyers become in-market buyers.

Similar to customers, prospective employees aren’t always actively searching for a job, but they are forming opinions of your brand – if they are even thinking about you at all. According to Glassdoor, candidates are 40% more likely to apply for a job if they are familiar with the company’s brand. And as Gen Z continues to form a larger part of the workplace, your company’s reputation for diversity and sustainability becomes increasingly important. For companies competing for high-demand STEM talent, having a strong brand can make an especially big difference.

Even without an “Apply now” CTA, brand campaigns are always part recruitment campaigns. Our integrated brand campaign for Raytheon Technologies’ defense business was primarily aimed at customers, but it also drove 5.2K careers site pageviews, showing the halo effect brand has in supporting critical talent acquisition efforts. See how we helped another client, The Aerospace Corporation, appeal to a new generation of scientists and engineers >>

After I wrote this, I asked ChatGPT to write a blog post about “the importance of brand in B2B advertising.” It makes many similar points, but it’s just not on brand for me at all. Would that blog garner longer time spent? I hope not.
It’s time to bring brand back to B2B.