There is a common misconception in the world of marketing that all B2B purchases stem from rational, objective decisions based on firm empirical evidence like ROI. Of course, a prospect isn’t going to ink a long-term contract because it “feels right,” but a number of studies have shown that business decision makers are more likely to consider a B2B brand to which they feel some level of emotional connection.
Conversely, B2B brands have historically acted like the dour older siblings of consumer brands – not fun or playful or relatable. So how do you differentiate a “serious” B2B brand from the competition? At our Charlotte branding agency, we believe one powerful tool for doing just that is to develop a distinct brand voice that strives for two things: make the brand stand out in the marketplace and forge an emotional connection with its audiences.
Here are a couple of examples of B2B brands who are pushing out a fresh, differentiated brand voice:
While this automated marketing platform has a complicated, tech-driven offering, they speak about themselves in a very casual, playful way. Example: “Connect Big Commerce to Mailchimp to sync your store data, send targeted campaigns to your customers, and sell more stuff.”
Businesses of all sizes use Shopify’s e-commerce platform, and while this company is a quintessential B2B brand, they strike the perfect balance between clear, precise technical language and a down-to-earth humanized tone of voice. Example: “We’re a learner’s organization, made up of PhDs, university drop outs, and everything in between. We learn by doing – doing well, doing not so well, failing hard, and doing better.”
This payments processing company “accepts every way your customers want to pay,” and makes a complex, tedious BPO function sound easy and accessible – empowering people with a friendly, conversational tone of voice. Example: “Choosing the best payment processing solution can be confusing. So we broke down the different options for merchant services (accepting credit cards), from banks to ISOs to Square. It’s a big decision that can cost (or save) you thousands of dollars, and we want you to be as informed as possible.”
All three of these brands do a great job of walking the line between professional and casual, redefining the classic definitions of brand voice, where “professional” doesn’t have to mean “corporate robot,” and “casual” doesn’t have to mean “drunken text message.” These companies also find subtle ways to inject levity into their communications, demonstrating that it’s OK to be witty and occasionally slip in a clever turn of phrase or acknowledge an obvious irony. Everyone appreciates humor – especially “insider” humor – because it demonstrates a certain self-awareness that relates a business directly with its audience, and it brings them closer emotionally because they feel like they’re in on the joke.