I have written a lot about a lot of eCommerce.
This essay is different.
Let's talk about branding and positioning – with which I had a reunion when we did a total revamp of PipeCandy's brand two years ago. I re-discovered love at work. Since then I have been a vocal proponent of breathing life into B2B brands whose categories are staid. Every cool new category sees 20 new SaaS startups in year one and 200 in year two. Consulting-speak takes over websites and everyone then says the same things.
There are 2000+ apps on Shopify's app store. It's a big deal for Shopify's users. It's why Shopify is not intimidating. As a merchant, you know a feature is just an app away. Yet, Shopify wouldn't allow an app maker's brand to stand out. They can't have their brand name untethered from the utility they serve.
B2B cares less about branding and positioning and yet humans buy all the same, whether it's Liquid Death or Vapor Ware.
Some common inadequacies I have seen in B2B when it comes to branding:
The power of good copy is astounding. Our recent closure is a top consulting firm. Their ask had this sentence: We need both 50ft and 50,000ft perspectives on ... market. That's quoted straight from our brochure that says, "eCommerce insights from 50ft and 50000ft." The most B2B-est of customers are still humans and neurons fire up in their brains when they see good words in the right context.
Thoughtfully differentiated positioning verbalized with the right phrases, branded at business/product/feature levels, rounded off with high-quality copy in right typefaces – these are what it takes to stand out, gain trust, and gain leadership position. It's within every company's reach, even the ones without a budget or an agency.
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