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The bland brand land of B2B

Ashwin Ramasamy
Ashwin Ramasamy
Oct 9, 2022
2
Min Read

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:

  1. Truly differentiated products don't claim ownership of their turf. The last best case of owning a category was when Drift prefixed 'Conversational' to its products and Intercom aped it.
  2. SaaS does not do feature branding – at all. Recently, a founder pitched a really cool assessment product claiming that they baseline the assessment based on star performers inside the organization. The feature did not have a name. But now it does. It's called RoleModel. We don't brand our differentiated features because we see our products as a collection of features instead of pain relievers or keys for customers to achieve their aspirations. Side Note: Value Prop Canvas is a brilliant way to start your product positioning, branding, and road-mapping journey
  3. We value content. Every entrepreneur wants to launch a publication. Yet, we launch knowledge hubs and not xxxxx-pedia. Our blogs don't have a masthead. The top navigation is not centre-aligned with the page. We treat our blogs as a kitchen sink for "content." We don't copy the world's best news outlets. They are out there. They figured out how to look non-boring and trustworthy.
  4. We don't think our customers get humor, irony, irreverence or self-deprecation. We are too serious about our brand that we'd rather be known for nothing than stand for something. We have learnt to sell benefits but insist on bullet points. We don't plan for a tone.

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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eCommerce-specfic lead qualification criteria
Freedom from non-Commerce databases.
Predictable demand generation. Very precise segmentation & messaging.
Free Trial
Be a Segmentation Superpower
eCommerce-specfic lead qualification criteria
Freedom from non-Commerce databases.
Predictable demand generation. Very precise segmentation & messaging.
Free Trial
Slips poor jokes & gets away with a poker face. Carries a no BS attitude at getting things done. First to arrive at the office, Ashwin’s energy does not ebb through the day. Ashwin is one of the co-founders and he sets the tone for marketing, sales, design & culture.
Slips poor jokes & gets away with a poker face. Carries a no BS attitude at getting things done. First to arrive at the office, Ashwin’s energy does not ebb through the day. Ashwin is one of the co-founders and he sets the tone for marketing, sales, design & culture.
hm.com
HQ Location: Beaverton, Oregon, United States Of America, 97005
hm.com, operated by H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB, is an internationally-focused online store that generates eCommerce net sales primarily in Germany as well as in the United States and the United Kingdom. With regards to the product range, hm.com achieves the greatest part of its eCommerce net sales in the “Fashion” category.
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Commercepedia Maturity Score
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High
Category
Arts and Entertainment, Business and Consumer Services, Business and Industrial, Consumer Electronics, Health and Fitness
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Arts and Entertainment, Business and Industrial, Office Supplies and Stationery, Technology and Computing
hm.com funding details
Total venture and debt funding raised by hm.com from accredited investors.
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Slips poor jokes & gets away with a poker face. Carries a no BS attitude at getting things done. First to arrive at the office, Ashwin’s energy does not ebb through the day. Ashwin is one of the co-founders and he sets the tone for marketing, sales, design & culture.
Slips poor jokes & gets away with a poker face. Carries a no BS attitude at getting things done. First to arrive at the office, Ashwin’s energy does not ebb through the day. Ashwin is one of the co-founders and he sets the tone for marketing, sales, design & culture.
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