B2B and Brand Image:
Know Your Story By Heart

All perceiving is also thinking, all reasoning is also intuition, all observation is also invention. — Rudolf Arnheim

When one thinks about brand, mega B2C brands like Pepsi and Heinz come to mind first. But for B2B, brand image is essential to helping buyers choose what companies to engage with. A strong brand image helps customers imagine what it’s like to work with a company. A brand image founded on strong principles supports longevity and foments growth.

In the last 50 years, B2B brands have had to move past simply having a good product to sell and passable collateral to help sell it. Brand image has become fundamental to developing and maintaining relationships amidst the clamor of competition. Leveraging social media has become a necessary strategy for any successful brand. And with an increasing span of the buyer’s journey happening online before they even talk to sales it’s important that B2B tells their company’s story and tells it well. How do you tell a good story?

To thine own self be true.

To behave in a consistent manner, to not be driven off course by trends or fads, to constantly strive for improvement, are signs of a true industry leader. When a brand is built on its core values, customers can align their expectations and start to establish trust. And the creation of trust is the ultimate goal of brand image design because it is the ultimate shortcut to a buying decision. When you know your brand “by heart” the story doesn’t get old, it gets better.

The power of image.

Recent MIT research has revealed that visual long-term memory capacity is much higher than previously believed. This makes good sense when you consider that our brain is primarily an image processor, not a word processor. In other words, visual expression is vital to all efforts related to branding, marketing, sales, and even business operations. Formal and intelligent use of visual elements like color, composition, typography, scale and style all contribute to the brand image to make it representative and recognizable. And when recognition=recall, consistency becomes paramount.

TBGA led research during a recent cybersecurity rebrand and found that the color blue was being overused by competitors without any clear indicators as to why. The use of blue across the board effectively obscured both the memorability and messages of the competitive set. We advised our client to develop a color story that supported their brand platform and stood in contrast (literally) to their competitors. It was simple and effective way to stand out from the crowd in the cybersecurity industry where authenticity and independence are highly regarded.

Cross your t’s and dot your i’s.

Always sweat the details because it shows you care. When brand image and design are applied consistently and creatively, across channels, it says that you take pride in your work. It establishes credibility. It shows focus. It builds trust. Because it comes down to whether or not customers believe you are capable and whether you care. Ultimately, a buyer’s decision is not simply an objective assessment of your product or service, or its features and benefits. It’s also about values and craft. And thoughtful and well-executed brand image plays an integral part in determining whether you will become a trusted business partner.

Caroline Jerome is Chief Creative Officer at TBGA. She is an ardent proponent of the value of art and design in business. Caroline has over 20 years of experience designing brands that corporate, government and non-profit audiences will remember and appreciate. In addition to her work at TBGA, Caroline is a NYS Library Board Trustee and AIGA Design Leader.