Attention to Detail and Relentless Execution in B2B branding

There can be a significant early challenge for B2B companies who do not have a lot of experience in brand building. It is critical that a company apply the same attention to detail in brand building that they do in their core business areas like manufacturing, safety, quality control etc. 

Several years ago The Riot Point team participated in a brand building initiative for a major explosives company. The company was introducing a new emulsion-based blasting agent to the mining and quarrying markets. The new explosive was technically superior to the explosive that it was intended to replace but it was also more expensive and required purpose-built equipment for transporting and loading. This was a big challenge in an industry considered to be conservative in its adoption of innovative products, and persistently focused on cost reduction. 

Our response was to create a unique brand around the new product. The new offering was called Underground Bulk System Technology or UBST for short. The offer replaced the conventional packaged ‘sausages’ of explosives with a large bulk delivery system.  The new system increased the speed at which holes could be filled with blasting agent, and reduced the required number of crew by one third. 

We generated a list of brand attributes and created a colour scheme, distinctive logo and graphics to designate all of the elements of the UBST system. The UBST system consisted of storage tanks, loading vehicles and work apparel for the UBST team. We also designed hats, sweatshirts and leather jackets for UBST team members, both at the mine and at the explosive company.

The UBST equipment and team members were easily recognized underground and it became quickly obvious that something new was happening. As the participating mines began to measure the results of using the new system, significant benefits were seen. There were big productivity gains across the whole mine process, not just in the blasting. UBST was creating a significant buzz underground.

Enthusiasm began to grow not only in the mines but just as importantly in the explosive company itself. Just about everyone wanted to get on the UBST bandwagon. And this is where a critical misunderstanding occurred. As this eagerness grew, some of the UBST technical representatives took the initiative to expand the system to include components for which none of the brand attributes that had been identified. And so we saw a rusty, 100 gallon barrel and hand cranked pump emblazoned with the UBST logo and colours. The technical reps were just trying to expand the use of the new explosive into more areas but they did not understand that an old battered drum seriously weakened UBST. It was a well-meaning but misguided extension. Steps were taken to stop what we saw as a serious dilution of the brand.  If a component did not meet the brand attributes of UBST it should not and could not be designated as part of UBST. 

There had been a lack of attention to detail in the brand building process. And this was in an industry where attention to detail is job one when it comes to safety, quality and productivity.

This mis-alignment of brand requirement and execution is not unusual in corporations new to branding in the area of B2B. Enthusiasm for the new brand can lead to brand identification being slapped on anything and everything without regard to whether the identification is appropriate or whether these things should be branded as part of the brand in the first place.

Building strong brands that connect with customers is rewarding but it’s also hard work. You’ve got to 

  • know the brand attributes, 
  • use only components that match the brand standards 
  • most importantly pay attention to every detail of the brand rollout
  • be relentless in your execution on every level as you build your brand. 

In the end there is almost nothing more satisfying.