Unleashing Your Brand Power with David Jones from Brand Noob

For this episode of Essential B2B, Joe was joined by David Jones, Global Brand Strategist for Polar and Founder of Brand Noob, to talk about harnessing the power in your B2B brand! David offered up some great insights and strategies you need to ensure your brand is poised for greatness!

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Hello and welcome to the Essential B2B Podcast brought to you, as always, by Lead Forensics. I’m your host Joe Ducarreaux. This episode is the audio taken from our webinar Unleash Your B2B Brand Power, Expert Strategies for Marketing Leaders.

For this I was joined by David Jones, Global Brand Strategist for Polar and Founder of Brand Noob. David was a great guest to speak with and offered up some smashing insights and strategies you’ll need to ensure your brand is poised for greatness.

So without further ado, here is David Jones on Unleashing Your B2B Brand Power.

Joe: So let’s jump straight into this, shall we? When re-evaluating your company’s brand, where’s a good place to start?

David: I think it’s the brand purpose. Everything boils down to the brand purpose and personally, what I’ve tried to do with Polar. Polar is traditionally a B2C brand, but we’ve just moved into B2B branding.

Brand purpose, one way to do that is, it’s a simple concept, it’s called Ikigai. There are four circles within this concept. One is what you’re good at, the other one is what you’re passionate about, the third is how you can help people and the fourth is how you can provide value, essentially what you can make money from. So right in the centre of those four circles, that’s your core purpose. That will define everything that comes out of that little experiment.

Joe: So it’s about boiling it down into your almost buckets of exactly what it is you want to achieve with your branding and that sort of thing then.

David: For example, with Polar, let’s say what you’re passionate about, with Polar is helping people live healthier, happier lives. We do that through sports, fitness and everyday wellness. What we’re good at is providing scientifically validated technology to measure human performance in life. Then what people need is personalised guidance with those tools. So how you provide the value through that is, it becomes the most trusted and concrete data in the industry. So then out of that boils down to your purpose.

Joe: Let’s take your brand purposes as read, then. You define that and you’re going ahead with it. What are some key elements of a strong brand strategy for B2B companies, do you think? How can they be effectively implemented?

David: It’s the voice. Out of the brand purpose comes your tone of voice and the target audience as well. Because if you can identify who you’re supposed to be helping out of that core purpose, then that should define your tone of voice as well. Through the tone of voice, you get your story and story is a big thing that I want to talk about today as well, in terms of branding. Because my personal opinion is storytelling is the most effective tool for B2C or B2B branding. So storytelling is one thing. I’m also the copywriter as well, so that’s why I’d like to talk about storytelling.

Joe: Well, let’s jump straight into the storytelling then. Tell us how you implement storytelling in your branding.

David: So with B2C, it’s kind of bread and butter. You need to tell a story to capture people’s human emotion because they buy with emotion but then make the decision through rationale and logic. If you can appeal to their emotions through an effective story.

If you think of Steve Jobs, for example, he was a master storyteller. That’s how he was able to make Apple what it was. It wasn’t just the product itself, which was incredible, in my opinion. He was a master storyteller. So if you can capture people’s emotions and tell a story, well then you’ve got them halfway there.

For B2B branding, again my personal opinion, but if a B2B brand remembers that essentially they are dealing with humans at first; they’re selling to a business, but they’re dealing with the human sales rep. Then they have to appeal to their human emotions through storytelling.

Joe: I think that’s the big divide, isn’t it? I mean, you think of B2B, you think fairly dry, as you say, big companies. I think it’s taking elements from B2C and implementing that into B2B, like you say, people buying from people. Which regular viewers to this webinar and podcast series will realise that’s almost the motto that we live by.

So how do you go about implementing effective storytelling? Let’s say, how do you use social media, do you think, to tell effective stories?

David: So storytelling on social media, if we’re talking specifically about B2B branding, it’s a little bit more tricky because it’s social media, you’re not directly appealing to the consumers. But if you can present your brand as a strong enough brand in social media, then people dictate the decision. If our brand, the B2B brand, has a big following and people are chattering about it in social media, then a potential prospect or B2B partner sees all of this chatter and realises what a solid reputation we have and hopefully will make a deal.

Joe: Alright, then. So how could a B2B company differentiate itself from competitors, particularly in crowded marketplaces and how does branding help with that?

David: I think you have to play to your strengths. I was talking about Polar, so we’re a 45-year-old company or 45-year-old brand and traditionally, like I said, we’ve been in B2C segments. But then by playing to our strengths, which are scientifically validated research plus the technology that we’ve developed. For example, the amount of patents we have and the amount of studies that we have in our research library, I’m not going to name competitors but you put all our competitors together and we have more than them combined. It’s not the social proof but that’s the proof that we know what we’re talking about and that’s our strength. So that’s what we’ve really tapped into with B2B marketing and branding as well. Then essentially that boils down to the storytelling. You tell a story about what strengths you have and what results we’ve had through those strengths. For example, elite athletes, which is what Polar traditionally focused on, and the records we’ve broken, the achievements our athletes have made because of the technology we provided to them.

Joe: So that’s really interesting. So you start with sort of the singular idea of, we have this credibility, we have this scientifically-proven data here and you’re almost branching narratives off of that, aren’t you, I guess? So like with your elite athletes and then other offshoots in that sense. How important is it to keep a clear and consistent brand message when driving for B2B success?

David: I think it’s important of course. Where there comes potential issues is short term versus long term focus.

Let’s say it’s a startup brand. So the startup brand, they want immediate success and that’s where maybe they would tip over the first hurdle because they’re focusing on the short term too much.

But the long-term focus should be about building the brand in order to create recurring sales, not just quick sales but recurring sales and strategic partnerships as well. Strategic partnerships are, if you can be picky with who you work with and who you put your brand next to, are better in the long term.

Joe: 100%. We mentioned very briefly there, David, we mentioned the credibility and the trust that you can build up using the scientific data that you have. To go down another route then, how could you use customer insights and feedback to inform your brand strategy?

David: B2C is slightly easier in this realm because everything is there on social media and it’s in customer reviews and things like that. But then you can still use that for B2B as well. So you could take customer sentiments. Branding is pretty…..because there’s nothing concrete that you can pull out. You can’t link it directly to sales in a way. You’ve got to think of the customer sentiments, what they feel about your brands, what the NPS is, the Net Promoter Score, and monitor chatter on social media as well. If people are talking positively about your brand, that’s a good thing. If the reputation of the brand grows over time on social media and people are talking about it again, like I was saying earlier, the other brands will see that and they’ll….. in a way you have to become sexy. So by becoming sexy it makes you more attractive and it’s more likely people will want to work with you. Sorry for the profanity there but!

Joe: We’ve had worse said on these webinars David, I’m absolutely sure of it, so don’t you worry about that. If you’ve got something like a very strong brand identity from that perspective of, as we were saying, the scientific data and those bits and pieces, then how do you go about tailoring that message for specific industries or even specific customers?

David: When you talk about the brand purpose, the brand purpose should define everything that you do. But then you should adjust your tone of voice, not even your tone of voice actually, maybe it’s more about the messaging. Not the core message but the message that you deliver to a specific audience.

I’ll take Polar for an example. Our B2B offering has different segments. There’s corporate wellness, there are professional sports teams. Obviously, you can’t talk to a corporate wellness prospect in the same way you would talk to a professional sports team. So the tone of voice can remain the same. If I’m the copywriter, it’s still my tone of voice shining through in the copy but the way it’s delivered and the end result, the last page of the book, if you like, that end page and the message that comes out through that end page, that’s what should be different. But the tone, the style and the core message should remain the same.

Joe: Almost in a James Brown way, keep it loose, keep it tight, that sort of thing.

David: Yeah, yeah, exactly. I’ll have to use that one next.

Joe: You’re very welcome to it, you can have that one for free David, no worries at all.

How could a B2B company leverage its brand to drive lead generation in sales and what tactics are most effective for that?

David: So, I have a personal opinion on this and like I said I started this Brand Noob, which is my personal branding on LinkedIn. But if you’re talking about lead gen and sales and B2B marketing and branding, then LinkedIn is a good platform to do that on.

I’ve been pushing at Polar for the support of personal branding, as in the people who work for Polar. We show them how to build their personal brand on LinkedIn and then the company, the employer, supports that and promotes that, even. Because by building strong personal brands, you essentially become advocates and ambassadors of the brand that you’re employed by. Then it’s more more breadcrumbs out there. People are hearing about it more. I did a post when we launched our B2B offering. We partnered with Casio G Shock and I did a post about it and it got quite good traction. A lot of people were then commenting and either excited or wanted to know more about the partnership or about the B2B offering. So I don’t know yet how many leads came from that but at least there’s more people interested and more people talking about it.

So yeah, like a personal opinion, personal branding should be promoted and supported.

Joe: Absolutely. It’s almost, a lot of people don’t like the word influencer, but it almost becomes it, doesn’t it? If you look at somebody like Will Aitken, you immediately think, oh, Lavender! He breaks down so many barriers. You’re suddenly, you’re so aware of the brand that he represents. I had a chat with Michael Manzi about this very subject on the B2B Sales Playbook podcast about personal branding. He was saying much the same thing, that people see your face, they see that you’re offering value, they see that you’re offering really good content and that sort of thing. They become more invested with you and they will follow you as your career continues to grow and grow. As you say, eventually get more interest in the company.

So yeah, personal branding is something that absolutely fascinates me in that way.

David: For example, we’ve got a team of in-house scientists and what I would love to do with Polar is to take one of the scientists and create a personal brand for them because that adds value, that adds authenticity. Also we practice what we preach, it’s not me as the brand strategist talking about how great the brand is. You’ve got the scientist who does the hard work in the background, talking about why Polar is so great and then providing value to people who are interested.

Joe: Absolutely! A scientist isn’t necessarily someone you are going to see. If you are in the B2B, B2C world, you’re not necessarily going to see a scientist popping up so I think that would be very effective. I’d certainly watch that for sure, that sort of content.

David: I’m not going to go into now but we came up with a whole concept around that which we are hopefully going to explore later this year.

Joe: Well I am certainly going to be keeping my eye out for that then David. That sounds fascinating. How can a B2B company evolve its brand strategy over time to stay relevant and adapt to changing marketings and customers needs, that sort of thing?

David: I was saying before about the tone of voice, the purpose and the values they should remain the same. But when it comes to the markets they fluctuate, it’s a thing that we can’t control. We’re seeing now that the current climate is chaos. We do not know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I think the way around that, the way to future proof yourself is to listen to the people, to trust your instincts and then validate those instincts through the data.

At Polar, we are big on data that drives everything we do. I get into hot water over it because I’m very instinctual. I shouldn’t be saying this but I hate numbers and figures, I’m more of a copywriter. Words are where I excel but when it comes to numbers, I get lost. So please don’t ask me about sales figures and things like that.

Trusting your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right or something feels like it’s about to change, the floor is shifting underneath you which the market is, then your instincts should tell you it’s time to change. If you come up with an idea of how you should change and how you should adapt, then you have to validate that through the data.

The data might not be there because it’s something that hasn’t happened before, but there will be indications in it. You can trust your instincts but you have to trust the data maybe slightly more. Which I hate saying but it’s true.

Joe: Absolutely, fantastic stuff. As a copywriter I’m sure leveraging emotions is a little bit easier to do with some language I’d have thought rather than some numbers. So David, if there’s one golden rule that you would like everybody who is watching this to go away and think about when it comes to branding, what is that golden rule for you?

David: Storytelling and remembering that it’s always humans that we are dealing with. It doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with a brand or a business or whatever, it’s always the human you have to appeal to.

In Polar, we have the idea, we are the same, one Polar. It means we are one organism, one team. We have to move in the same direction, we have to read from the same book. Going back to storytelling, the collaboration between marketing and sales is linked because if marketing comes up with the right story that sales believe in and can easily pitch to prospects. That helps them appeal to the human emotion on the other end.

Joe: You are just reinforcing the lesson I keep learning, is that people buy from people. So I hugely appreciate your answer on that one. David, thanks very much for joining us.

David: Thank you

Well there you go, that was David Jones on Unleashing Your B2B Brand Power. Here are our key takeaways:

When reevaluating a company’s brand, start with the brand purpose. David introduced me to the concept of Ikigai which you can use to help find your brand purpose.
Storytelling is critical for creative branding, in B2B and B2C. A voice and target audience should be at the focus of this.

Appealing to emotions to establish a strong brand reputation or a sure-fire way to succeed.

And as we all know now people buy from people.

Create a personal brand for employees to add value and authenticity.

Be customer-centric and create a flexible brand strategy that can evolve over time.

Conduct market research, listen to customers and use data to make informed decisions about brand positioning and messaging.

Thank you so much to David for joining me for this conversation and thank you for listening. Please remember to subscribe to the Essential B2B podcast and give us a 5 star rating where possible. We’ll be back next week with another brilliant Essential B2B podcast.