Images are just as important in B2B marketing.
August 2, 2017
B2B companies don’t always see themselves as brands. This is a huge mistake because 20% of decision making in B2B is emotional.
It’s the brand that sways that emotional element of our thinking. Your brand, which is a mixture of lots of elements of your business, is what makes the emotional connection with your buyers. Ignore it at your peril!
In this post, we’re going to look at some examples of strong B2B branding and how they use imagery to make their offering pop.20% of decision making in B2B is emotional Click To Tweet
First, let’s take a look at what makes a brand.
What is a brand?
It’s easy to think that a brand is something that’s exclusive to the big companies. It isn’t. Every interaction a buyer has with your business is part of your brand. This isn’t just about how pretty or easy to use your website is, it’s about your:
- Brand look and feel
- Customer experience
- Marketing materials
- How you make your customers feel.
Let’s focus our attention on look and feel, AKA brand imagery.
What makes up a brand’s imagery?
The main components of your imagery are:
- Colour palette
- Any motifs of other imagery your use to support your brand.
These form your brand architecture.
Let’s take a look at some good examples of B2B brand imagery.
Here we look at some examples of how well-known B2B brands use their imagery to help them to stand out from the crowd.
Keeping your brand imagery in line with customer expectations.
Hailing from New Zealand, Xero has shaken up the small business accountancy software world.
The simple branding links how easy the system is to use with how visually pleasing it is, implying it takes the strain out of accountancy for small business owners and accountants alike. Its simplicity makes it pop off the page, standing out from competitors.
The team at Xero know what their customers are looking for – simplicity – and reflect this in their branding and product look and feel.
The Xero website appears sterile at first, with no human imagery, but this is because what’s important to their customers is seeing what the software looks like and how easy it is to use. Xero needs to quickly prove they are what they claim to be before website visitors surf away.
Wherever you are on the Xero website I don’t think you’re more than a couple of clicks away from a video. Xero makes it easy for visitors to see their software in context, making it easy for website visitors to transport themselves into the imagery, seeing themselves as Xero users.
Let’s take a look at Xero and their competitors alongside each other. See how much cleaner Xero look, in terms of logo and software screenshots, in comparison to their major competitor, Freshbooks? This is exactly what their target customers are looking for.
That said, Sage is the only brand to show someone actually using their product. This human connection is powerful because it’s been repeatedly proven to increase conversion rates.
Sage has a more complex product offering so needs this emotional hook more to draw visitors in and implore them to navigate to the right solution for them.
Using people to make a human connection.
Hubspot created the concept of inbound marketing and continues to be the market leader. The logo typeface is simple, as we all want out systems to be easy to use, and gives a hint about what they do – reaching out and making connections.
Take a look at their website and we quickly understand what we could get out of using Hubspot.
They’ve brought in the people element by using a friendly Lego shot. Hey, who doesn’t love Lego?
This fits their target market of marketing and sales people well and aligns them nicely with the Lego brand – fun, creative and well built. Who doesn’t want that from their marketing and sales software?
Hubspot’s main competitors take a different approach. None of them use the human element, missing out on making that human connection that increases conversions.
Infusionsoft has a strong message that focusses on where their target audience wants to be and, at the bottom, Active Campaign focuses on features rather than benefits.
Using colour to create instant recognition.
Colour is a powerful component of branding so much so that some companies have trademarked their brand colours.
Looking towards the B2B mobile phone market where colour is a quick way to recognise brands in a crowded market, Vodafone uses a strong red.
Using a strong colour is really key when your customers have multiple windows open to compare deals – they need to know in an instant which website they’re on.
Vodaphone does this remarkably well with its bold red. Particularly contrasted against a black and white image, this colour really makes them stand out.
The messaging on their business homepage infers that they understand business customer needs. The people focused image helps visitors to project themselves into it, imagining themselves as Vodafone customers before they’ve even looked at their deals.
Looking at Vodafone alongside its competitors, EE uses a different colour combination that doesn’t quite convey the strength of Vodafone.
EE has no people imagery, making it difficult for a visitor to imagine themselves as a customer and difficult to get to know EE as a brand. (I’m not biased, I’m an EE customer but have always found its branding to be weak.)
BT has gone for a regal purple indicating a sense of indulgence at choosing BT. As the former national telecoms organisation, people often feel a sense of security about being a BT customer, they feel they will be looked after and are happy to pay a higher price for the privilege.
The people image the BT team chose lacks the context of the Vodafone image but still makes a connection. Sometimes it’s worth paying more for higher quality imagery that makes that strong connection.
Brand consistency is key.
Whatever your brand looks like there’s one key element to stay focused on and that’s consistency.
Keep your images, typefaces, colours and anything else that makes up your core brand imagery consistent. There’s little more unsettling than looking like you don’t know quite who you are.
Branding is a journey. Take it step by step and once you make decisions on your approach, ensure you fully commit to them.
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