B2B brands have historically positioned themselves as the more serious older sibling of consumer-oriented B2C brands, but that can present challenges when you are trying to differentiate your brand from competitors. One powerful way to do that is to develop a distinct identifiable brand voice that also forges an emotional connection with your audience.
When it comes to successful marketing and branding, B2B companies could learn a few tricks from the customer experience strategies B2C brands are utilizing every day. In fact, B2B companies often see higher client-satisfaction score when they adopt B2C customer experience processes, and business decision-makers are 10 percent more likely to consider a brand if consumers feel connected to them., according to a 2016 McKinsey&Company article. While your B2B company shouldn’t imitate a B2C voice there are lessons to be learned about how they approach their branding.
Keep It Professionally Casual
A great B2B brand knows how to walk the line between professional and casual. Remember that casual doesn’t have to mean “text messages in your pajamas”, and professional doesn’t have to mean “robotic” or “formal”. What B2Cs do well is speak in layman’s terms. The lesson to be learned here is that there’s flexibility in your language and tone as long as you are connecting. Don’t be afraid to use personal pronouns or contractions in your messaging, if that’s how your target audience speaks.
The second lesson your B2B brand can learn from the B2C crowd is that it’s okay to inject humor in your messaging. If you know your target audience is onto a joke or reference, it’s okay to acknowledge and obvious irony, use a clever turn of words, or be witty in your messaging. Everyone appreciates humor – especially when they feel like they’re in on the joke. Insider humor is appealing because it ties your brand to your audience and brings them closer emotionally.
Branding with humor is admittedly risky especially across multiple languages and cultures or if your audience is broad. Test the water first with a light, witty touch and smart wordplay to connect, warm up communication, and avoid aiming for blunt or vague laughs that might alienate people or cause eye-rolls.
The third lesson your B2B brand can glean from B2C businesses is how to keep your finger on the pulse of your customer base and the cultural moment in order to define your brand voice. The news, pop culture, and the internet all keep people plugged into the moment. You don’t have to try to trot out popular memes or try to create viral campaigns like B2C business tend to, but you do need to be aware of trends and your demographics in order to make your messaging appeal to prospective customers.
Your client base may be older, but those companies and consumers regularly age into retirement. There is a good reason that so many B2C brands obsess over millennials – they will be the base running businesses and buying products for years to come. Appealing to the tech-savvy younger B2B buyers can be tricky, because their generation is suspicious of anyone or anything that appears to be insincere, and it’s hard to be more insincere than a company that hijacks a cultural moment for their own financial gain. So, while there are some lessons you can take away from the B2C space, such as challenging your brand messaging to evolve and adapt, don’t try to be a company that you are not! Do be a company that is open to thinking outside the box.