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Why digital-first branding is key to B2B marketing

There once was a time when businesses could get away with a muddled approach to their branding, developing a beautiful logo, slick tone of voice and some creative merch, then pushing their brand out in front of prospective customers – job done. Luckily, the way these outputs interacted with digital spaces didn’t hugely matter, as the digital landscape wasn’t especially developed.

That way of thinking is hugely out of date. Today, branding needs to be made digital-first. This means every aspect of the brand must be perfectly in sync across all digital outputs, ensuring customers enjoy a seamless experience, whatever the platform or medium. While digital-first branding has long been a mainstay of the B2C world, it’s just as important for B2B marketing too – here’s why.

Digital use is constant and universal

According to Ofcom’s Adults’ Media Use And Attitudes Report 2018, UK adults spent 24 hours online per week in 2017. That same year, ONS figures showed 99% of 16-44 year-olds and 96.8% of 45-54 year-olds were regular internet users.

Add to this 2018 Adobe survey results showing digital communication methods like email, app, social and chatbots were the preferred method of brand contact by 67% of respondents, and we can see digital has become the public’s default method of brand discovery and interaction.

If your customers don’t have a positive experience while interacting with your site – say, if your branding isn’t adaptable or responsive to different devices or your content isn’t interesting and engaging – they’ll ignore or desert you. The only way to avoid them doing so is to think digitally and put yourself in the shoes of every customer, always making decisions with the user in mind.

Digital-first ensures brand consistency

Customers like consistency. If your brand has a separate identity across different channels, it will appear messy and confusing to your target audience, no matter how much you’ve slaved over your logo.

Achieving consistency means ensuring your brand is swimming in digital thinking from the outset. This usually involves paring back your brand and adopting an accessible and memorable identity that can be easily replicated across multiple platforms. Too complex, and cracks can form in the façade, ruining customer immersion.

All your graphics, for instance, should perform perfectly across different devices and screen sizes. You could also use only a small number of icons across everything you create, limit your colour palette to the single digits, or keep your copy short and snappy so it still has impact when viewed on smaller displays.

Smart logo design is also a great idea, whether that involves simplifying your logo and removing needless copy, going full Nike and adopting a logo mark, or even using a gif, bringing motion into the heart of your brand. Check out Audi’s new digital-first brand – it’s smart, slick and powerful, perfectly mirroring Audi’s offering.

Be sure to ignore the merch and print to start off with – let the digital inform the physical – and make brand choices that won’t overly constrain you at a later date. Being hamstrung will likely lead to you abandoning your mould, causing your brand to appear inconsistent.

Customers want seamless digital interactions

Digital-first means putting customer interactions at the heart of everything you do. This involves pouring your efforts into creating the most enjoyable user experience possible, one that’s slick and enjoyable for your customers, ultimately getting them to convert.

The less complex your customer interactions, the easier it will be to communicate with them. With a 2016 survey showing 62% of individuals contact companies via email and 20% by Facebook, you need to be able to offer a positive brand experience across multiple digital channels. 75% of respondents in the survey were influenced by positive social media coverage of a company and 62% by negative coverage, showing there’s a clear benefit to doing digital right.

So, what’s the secret? Research your customers and understand what they want. Learn the creative mediums they swoon over and platforms they enjoy using and how they use them. Make your touchpoints similar across your outputs, and treat every interaction as an opportunity, being careful not to harm your brand or user experience with pushy or annoying marketing spiel.

It helps you adaptably create better content

Having a B2B brand that’s rooted in digital will allow you to take advantage of new channels and mediums far faster than if you were working with branding that wasn’t already digitally optimised. This ensures you can nimbly adapt your offering to your users, keeping ahead of the game and taking advantage of new trends, the moment they happen.

What’s more, because your branding will be created with user experience at the fore, the content you create for these channels will benefit from the cleaner ‘brand canvas’. This will allow you to produce the sort of interesting, memorable content your customers want to see; loaded with experience and emotion, not muddled by messy branding.

Being digital-first means creating a brand that feels the same across a spectrum of different platforms and mediums. The only way to make sure they gel is through a broad, in-depth understanding of channels, customers and creative – that’s our bag.

Contact us today and let us share our digital and creative expertise to make sure your brand is ready for the future.