B2B Branding – More Than Your Logo

by | Mar 25, 2019 | Podcast Episodes | 0 comments

B2B Branding – More Than Your Logo

Written by Stacy Jackson

Mar 25, 2019

March 25, 2019

Season 1, Episode 7

What’s a Brand? (Hint: It’s More Than a Logo)

A lot of people confuse “brand” with “corporate identity” or “logo.” Chad Nelson is joining us on this episode to set the record straight on b2b branding..

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listen in as b2b branding expert Chad Nelson of The Basis Group shares insights about b2b branding.

Chad tells us:

  • What led him to become so passionate about b2b branding
  • How a brand is more than a logo
  • Why a brand is as important internally as it is externally
  • About a brand’s impact on corporate culture, customer experience, and even hiring
  • Why branding is even more important than features when it comes to B2B technology companies
  • The challenges of changing founder’s (and quota-carrying salespeople’s) minds to favor brand over features

Mentioned in This Episode


Read the Transcript for Season 1, Episode 7

Stacy Jackson: Hey there, this is Stacy Jackson.

Alanna Jackson: And I’m Alanna Jackson.

Stacy Jackson: We’re cofounders of Jackson marketing. We’re also sisters and we’re bringing you episode 7 of The Marketing Mix. Alanna. What is today’s episode about today?

Alanna Jackson: We’ve got a special guest joining us to talk about branding. His name is Chad Nelson of The Basis Group out of Colorado, and The Basis Group helps B2B technology companies take their brands to the next level. Coming up after the break we are going to have Chad introduce himself and tell you a little bit more about [himself] and his company.

Stacy Jackson: And branding. All right. I can’t wait to get started. So, let’s go to break and hear from today’s sponsor. Then when we come back, we’ll welcome Chad.


Alanna Jackson: All right and welcome back. And we are here with Chad Nelson from The Basis Group. So, Chad, we’ve given you a slight introduction, but maybe you can give us a little bit more about you and what you do at The Basis Group, and then we’ll, kind of, kick it off with talking about branding.

Chad Nelson: Yeah, you bet. Well, thank you, Alanna and Stacy, for having me on your podcast. I really look forward to the conversation.

So yeah, so The Basis Group is a brand communications firm. We specialize in B2B technology companies. The majority of those tech companies have been software companies, and the majority of those software companies have been software as a service. In fact, our first SaaS company we started working with was a company called IRM who was later acquired by AFS.

And we started working with them in 2001. And I know you two are familiar with AFS.

Alanna Jackson: We’re familiar with them.

Stacy Jackson: We’re alumni.

Chad Nelson: And so, yeah, so we started back in 2001 with our first SaaS company, and so we’ve kind of been there from the very beginnings of sort of the SaaS model.

We are located 10 miles north of Boulder, Colorado and we started the company back in the year 2000.

Alanna Jackson: Chad, I think a lot of people get confused with branding. Maybe they just focus on a logo or corporate identity but there’s more to it than that, so can you walk us through what is branding?

Chad Nelson: Yeah, you bet, and you’re absolutely right. I mean there’s just a myriad of definitions and it’s crazy. Like, if you go on the internet, you will literally find thousands of different definitions, and I actually think that it’s the design and creative world, in many ways, that has made the mistake of thinking about a brand as a logo.

I mean again, it’s not uncommon for. . . for people to show the Nike Swoosh and say, you know, that’s the Nike brand. And it really . . .  though that is an iconic representation of the Nike brand, it really doesn’t embody what the brand is I like the definition that Seth Godin has, and I’ll just read that. He says, “A brand is a set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumers decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer — whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter, or a donor — doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection, or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.” So, when I think about a brand, it really isn’t just . . . .  It’s not just your logo, and it’s not even your corporate identity. It extends to the person who answers your phone. It’s customer service. It’s somebody’s experience if they have used your product. It’s someone’s experience if they have gone to your website.

So, it’s a whole group of memories, expectations, and relationships that make someone’s perception of your brand and if that’s not a positive experience, then, of course, they won’t pay a premium. They won’t select you, and they won’t spread the word. And so that’s really, again, what I think a brand is. It’s a much more holistic look at how people perceive your company and the products that you offer.

Alanna Jackson: That very last part that you were reading from. . . His definition was then there is no brand? Is that what it said?

Chad Nelson: Yeah, it says, “then there is no brand value that exists for that consumer.”

Alanna Jackson: And I think that that’s probably where a lot of companies are because they’re not branding those companies. And just to think about it that way, that’s got to make a lot of CEOs and owners of companies go., “Wow, do we have a brand? You know, and to just question it right?

Well, I think, you know, at the end of the day everyone has a brand. They may not be aware of actually how they’re being perceived in consumers’ eyes, but everyone has a brand. You think about every company you interact with, and you have a perception and expectation and an awareness of who and what they are, or you don’t have that.

Alanna Jackson: Right.

Chad Nelson: So, I think some people might think, “Hey, we don’t spend a lot on branding, so we, you know, we sort of stay under the radar or whatever.” I don’t know, but they still have a brand by default. It just may not be the brand they are hoping to have.

Chad Nelson: Exactly.

Stacy Jackson: So, you kind of have to change the mindset of [no matter] what people do, they’re also in marketing in a way. They’re part of the brand. They need to be part of it.

Chad Nelson: That’s absolutely right. Yeah, so right, it is people’s holistic to impression of a company. You think about — if you, for example, love a company and then you call them and you’re actually on hold  . . . . You go through a very complex menu, and then you’re on hold for a half an hour. Maybe even if you love their product, you may really sort of discount their brand after that experience.

So again, it goes deeper beyond product or offering or anything like that. It goes deep into, like, all the ways that you interact with your consumers.

Alanna Jackson: Obviously, branding is something very close and near and dear to your heart. What is it that got you so passionate about branding?

Chad Nelson: So, it really started back at the beginning of my career, and I was . . .  I’m a designer by trade, you know, that’s my original sort of position.

And we would go to create meetings. We would go to meetings where we would either be presenting creative ideas, whether that be a logo or a brochure or website design or whatever. And I was often struck that once we got done presenting — and again, we would show our various ideas, and as we showed each idea, we would we would support it with rationale, and that rationale would be based on either the creative brief or it would be based on a conversation we had with someone within the company before we started.

But as soon as we’d get done presenting our ideas, I’d always be surprised how it would immediately devolve to a critique about the aesthetics. So, the direction that was picked often times would be, “well that one; I really like that one.” “That one’s cool, or “I hate the color on that one,” or “why did you use that typeface? It seems so chunky,” or, you know those kinds of comments. And that got frustrating for me because I really didn’t actually know where the target was anymore. I didn’t know what the objective of what we were designing was to achieve, and so . . . so I thought I’ve got to find a more objective process where I truly understand what the company is about, and then our creative objective would be to communicate that in a dynamic way that was relevant to the customer that was . . . that was interesting but also enlightened them on sort of core attributes that we wanted to communicate.

And so, when I started discovering what a brand was and started researching more, and then from there my partner and I developed a methodology. And so, it’s sort of evolved from then, but it really was bore out of out of that frustration.

I think the other reason I’m kind of passionate about branding as I’ve actually seen. . . . Yes, it really helps on the creative and, sort of, the external communication part. It’s much more effective if you have a sort of brand definition to push ideas up against, but I think I’ve really liked what it’s done internally to companies.

So, when you have a well-defined brand, people actually know what your value proposition is. They know what your values are. They know what your market differentiation is. They know what the pain points of the customer are, and so it allows them to work in a much more unified fashion and towards a goal. And they actually know what they’re there to deliver. So again, if if that customer service person understands what the brand’s about, they’re going to handle a customer, hopefully, accordingly. They really ingest sort of what the brand’s about.

Stacy Jackson: Yeah, I was thinking about . . . . I know that you deal with some technology companies that are maybe evolving to the next level of their maturity, and Alanna and I have dealt with some of those too. And what we have observed is that when it’s . . . especially . . . a really tight-knit group of employees who have been there forever, they feel like the brand is an extension their identity. But they need to switch their mindset to how can they be an extension of the brand’s identity. I think that whole corporate culture working together is so important there.

Chad Nelson: People still have unique gifts and they do have a unique perspective, and so I do think that is one of the challenges, for sure, is, like, “how do we pull you in as an individual into our company, right, and take advantage of your passions your unique skill sets and gifts and marry that with our brand, so that you actually can make those gifts up an additional sort of bright light or component of that brand?”

And so . . . And that’s where, again, one of the things that I’ve been wrestling with for a long time. It’s not just sort of the brand definition. But then how do you extend it to the entire company? How do you make sure that every employee actually understands the brand and can and can own it? You know, can personally own it and understand how that brand impacts their job.

And so that is that’s a process and, again, I don’t . . . I’m not . . . it’s not all sort of “one size fits all.” And, again, it’s . . . part of it is that personalization of . . . like if you’re someone who is in HR, how do you view the brand? How does that impact how you treat the employees — how you set up culture and promote culture and prioritize things the brand wants to prioritize, you know, so your job is different than say someone who’s a developer? Because the developer might say, “Okay. How does the brand affect me?” Well, it may affect you in that the product needs to be developed, so it delivers a particular experience.

Stacy Jackson: Yeah, that’s an interesting point about HR and the brand because they need a great employer side of the brand to attract the people that are going to live the brand values.

Chad Nelson: Right. That’s right. Exactly, and it goes deep in the hiring. Exactly. I mean, that . . . that’s one of the hopes is that you . . . you, you first would understand the brand and then as you went out and hired people, you would really sort of look for certain attributes and characteristics to say is this person going to be joyfully a part of our brand, or are they actually just not a good fit for whatever reason? And I think it can help you in that process. Alanna Jackson: Right. Have you . . .  I just was thinking about a lot of companies over the last few years are . . . have become really big with social responsibility and having that as part of their brand. Have you noticed that being a big part of the branding process with any of the companies you work with? I know you work with more technology companies, so it may not be as huge, but have you noticed? Chad Nelson: I haven’t noticed like a lot of the consumer brands that sort of much more. . . . Well, you’re seeing a lot of consumer brands literally jump into the the hottest political issues of our day and actually taking a position on it. And and again, I don’t see that as much in the world that that we work in. I do think, boy, I mean when I look at that, I actually think . . . I think it’s okay to have values as a company, and you need to have values. I think you’ve got to be careful that you’re not alienating half your audience. And sometimes when I see consumer brands going out and doing things. Yes, they’re supporting their values and they may be supporting some or maybe even more most of their employees with their values. But I also think it’s . . .yeah, you got to realize that you might be really alienating, you know, half your audience. And so, it hasn’t really taken hold of the business-to-business technology world yet. But you know again that may be something as companies strive to want to have values, because I think companies actually in many ways . . . . You know, there’s been such a push for revenue over the past 20 years where that’s like the ultimate, the ultimate value, I guess . . . Is is to say, “hey, as long as we’re meeting our financial needs, you know, we’re performing well as a company.” And I think consumers and employees and stuff are just demanding that they stand for more than that, and so that’s where I think you seen those trends come. I don’t know if they’ll continue or not. It’ll be interesting to see. Alanna Jackson: Yeah, it’s definitely more prominent in the B2C world than in the B2B. I completely agree with you there. In the B2B world, since you focus more on technology companies, why is it so important for B2B tech companies to focus on branding? Chad Nelson: Well, I think first and foremost . . . well, there’s probably three reasons. I guess I should say first and foremost, I think it’s the internal benefits of branding the tech companies really benefit from. You know, it’s important to cast a vision and when employees aren’t clear about who they are and what they value and what they strive to deliver, they end up being a feature-focused company. So I think that, you know internally, it just really helps guide employees and where we’re going. What’s the roadmap for the company? What kind of services do we need to build out in order to deliver this brand to the world? I think the other thing tech companies . . . . And this happens particularly in sort of more mature markets, is it’s easy to become a commodity. I know we’ve experienced companies where there may be five or six solutions out there, and they essentially all have the same features and benefits. And as soon as one company comes up with a new feature, they sort of tout that and they’re like, “Look at us. We got this new shiny . . . this new shiny nickel here.” And you know, that maybe gives them a little burst of sales for a short period of time while they have an advantage, but then almost immediately everyone writes that feature into the roadmap, particularly if they see it’s successful. And you know, six months later they have that same feature. And so, if you base your brand on that differentiation, then you need to know that you will lose that advantage and that differentiation almost immediately. And so, there’s got to be elements and components of your brand that live above that. It’s your value set. It’s the way you deliver your products and services. It’s the user interface and user experience. You know, these are all kind of part of what a brand is made up of. And so again, it’s a that’s another thing a brand can do is help give you more differentiation. I think third, and again, this is very important is tech companies need to build brand equity, and I’ll explain what that means. But one of the things that the tech companies experience, maybe unlike, sort of, maybe traditional companies is there is often a lot of change. Tech companies constantly have to evolve, so you think about, you know, software companies, and so many of them essentially went from software out of the box, then it was like software as a suite. Then it was, like, you know, software in the cloud, and, you know, now it’s like these full software platforms. Software’s evolved a lot and, therefore, the products and the solutions and the services also have changed as marketplaces change. Well, when that happens if you want to be able to do that in a seamless way and in a very strong and efficient way, it’s really important to have brand equity. And I’ll just give you an example. You think about Apple. You know, Apple essentially in the year 2000 was was a PC maker, and they had software and so forth, so that so. . . they provided sort of computing solutions for the creative class. And so, they had built a very loyal brand amongst that audience. You know, they were very successful, and had very loyal brand followers, but it was interesting to note . . . . Like when you you think about the fact that the iPod came out and I think 2001 and then iTunes came out in 2003 . . . . Here’s an industry that Apple had never been in. You know, it’s the music industry. It essentially had been LP’s, cassettes, and then and then CDs. And here Apple was saying, “no, we’re not just going to introduce a new product in a completely new marketplace known as the, you know, the music industry. We’re actually not just going to introduce a product. We’re actually going to create a whole ecosystem. So, you’re going to actually buy through us, and you’re going to be able to carry your entire music collection in your pocket,” which kind of was mind-blowing. And they had amazing adoption and people love their product and much of that came from that loyal brand audience they had built in the PC market. It’s like those people immediately went there with them. And so that brand equity again is all that value that you carry over so that when you do deliver a new product, people take all the great attributes you had in your previous products into that new product. They make assumptions that, of course, they’re going to deliver, and Apple is very consistent and good at actually delivering all those attributes in their next product. And that’s why then when the iPhone comes out in 2007, you see lines wrapped around the building of people that want to buy this phone even though that was an amazingly competitive space. Apple had never been in the mobile phone market. But again, instantly successful and that was really based on brand equity. So again, that’s sort of the third reason why I think tech companies need to need to get involved in branding and need to understand their brand is because brand equity is one of the ways they’re going to be successful through a lot of transition. Alanna Jackson: Do you think [niche B2B] tech companies lose sight of the fact that today’s buyer has changed? They’re more modern. They’re more educated. They have the internet to do research, and they can easily see when “okay, all these these five have all the same features, and features aren’t what Is selling for them. They need to differentiate themselves. So, when you go into those situations, how do you convince those CEOs and the founders and the different people that you’re working with that you’ve got to differentiate; it’s not about features. Chad Nelson: I mean, again, that can be tough because I will say this: The branding takes discipline. again the example I just used with Apple. Apple is one of those companies that’s amazingly disciplined in delivering their brand. They are incredibly uncompromising. And so, it does, it does take convincing the CEO or the executive team that, “hey, this is the right approach” that yes, you may — your salespeople particularly — might feel like features are the best way to sell the product quickly.” And that’s what I found is like that’s part of the reason so many tech companies don’t do a great job of branding. It’s because, at the end of the day, they’re not patient enough. They’re not disciplined enough. They actually . . .  it’s so easy to call a customer up, that you haven’t talked to a while . . . or a prospect that you have not talked to in a while and essentially say, “Hey, we got this new feature. I think you’re going to love it. I think I heard you talk about it in our last conversation. So, can we demo the product? “ You know, it’s sort of goes there because it’s very tangible if you have a new feature, and it’s very easy to understand. And so again, I think a lot of companies fall back on that, in some ways, because it’s just very tangible and easy to sell. So, it does take some convincing to the executive team. It says “Hey, you’re going to be in a commodity space. And if you start . . . Essentially if everyone looks the same in your industry and all the solutions are essentially the same thing but slightly different user interfaces, you need to know that you’re going to be in a race to zero. You’re going to be essentially battling only on price, and you’re going to have no premium value in the mind of the consumer because again, you’ve just . . . . All you’ve done is said, “We think this feature’s the king,” but guess what: everyone else has it. So now you’re saying, “Well, we can be cheaper.”

You know, I think particularly if executives have gone through that pain of saying, “Wow, we are really losing margins, and we’re not nearly as profitable as we used to be,” they start to say, “yeah, we need to do something that’s going to help us differentiate and add value, perceived value, for sure, in the minds of our customers.”

Alanna Jackson: And I think that that’s where a lot of tech companies . . . they lose track of branding in the sales process, too, or they don’t understand what their brand really is because they’re only focused on those features. I think that’s where a lot of tech companies, kind of, lose customers and sight of what’s happening in their overall process because they’re just focused on the revenue and “let’s just get it done.” We know the features. We think we’re awesome. So, let’s just move forward with this and not differentiating themselves. I think that that’s. . . . I think you hit the nail on the head with why they do such a poor job with branding themselves.

Chad Nelson: Yeah, and just to touch on it. I do think there’s a couple other reasons that tech company don’t do a great job branding. I think part of that is that when tech companies are first developed, there’s an idea and then there’s a product that’s developed, a solution that’s developed. And so that the technology itself becomes king. It becomes the ultimate thing, like this is . . .  this is our baby.

We started from this amazing idea. We saw a need in the marketplace, and we created this thing, and it’s amazing. And so, they think the magic is actually in the technology, in the features. And that works for a while, particularly again, if you’re coming up with a solution where there is no solution, you know, if you’ve sort of like come up with something completely fresh and there is an unmet need. The technology is king because there was nothing before.

When new players start coming in and you realizing we’re playing in a competitive field now, and wow, they have what we have and maybe in some ways it’s even better. Okay. Our options are again, we can we can keep cranking up the feature list until we get something that’s better than them, or we can think about what what really is our brand about.

What is the mission and vision of our company and then what are the brand values? What do we believe in whose problem? Are we solving? How are we uniquely solving it? And that can start to drive the differentiation, as I mentioned earlier.  Too, I think sales and marketing have quotas. I was touching on this, and again, I think features, you know, sometimes can expedite the sales process.

So, I think that’s another reason tech companies do such a poor job branding. I think the third thing is that so often, particularly the companies that we work with —  because we work with a lot of companies . . . they’re outside the startup stage, and they’ve got, you know, maybe 10 to 30 employees and they’re sort of at that stage where, right, the technology is starting to have competitors and things like that, but they don’t really have the skill set to define their brand. So not only did they not have the skill set. I think the people that are inside are so close to things. They don’t have the objectivity either. And so that’s why I think using outside firms can be very helpful for a tech company. Someone who will come in and do the primary and secondary research and actually ask the tough questions.

And you know, it’s not uncommon for me, like if I have a company that says for example, “Hey, we’ve got the best customer service in the industry. Our customers love us.” And I sort of find out, like, actually after doing reviews and talking to customers, no, that’s not actually your sweet spot. You know, I will I will actually come back and challenge them, too, and say, “If you really believe in this and this is a value your brand possesses — it’s an attribute you possess and deliver on, then I need to hear several ways in which you uniquely deliver customer service that none of your competitors deliver.” Then I’ll believe it’s actually a value. If you’ll painfully deliver that like there’s a cost there that you don’t see back, but because you believe in customer service you uniquely offer avenues of customer service that the competitors don’t, then I’ll believe it’s an attribute you believe in, and we’ll make it part of your brand. If they . . .  If they don’t and they’re just kind of, “well, hey our customers love us,” [and] they leave it at that, then I know, okay, here’s something that is actually going to compromise their brand because they’re never going to be able to deliver in the customers mind despite the fact that they marketed themselves as a customer service-driven company. So, there’s a disconnect there. And so those are kind of three reasons why I think tech companies do a poor job branding.

Stacy Jackson: In my own experience as a customer of a company like yours, I was a lower-level marketing person who went in with my CMO, and we hired a firm and “oh, yeah, let’s do this. Let’s do that.” And the CEO was like, “Yeah, you guys go do it.” Then when it came time to present. . . . that was his baby. That was his software, and things just fell apart.

So, do you have any . . . Even though we had a chief marketing officer involved things didn’t go quite according to plan. What are your recommendations to people who want to do this, but maybe don’t have everybody on board?

Chad Nelson: Well, and I do think. . . I mean, I know and every brand conversation that we’ve been when we go to present our definition of a brand. So, we typically we do a lot of research upfront — primary, secondary. We do surveys. We do, you know, all kinds of ways of gathering information. Then we start bridging that together and take all that disparate sort of information and start pushing it together, and we end up with a very well-defined brand. We’ll often go present that and by the time we get done with something like that, I literally feel like we probably understand the industry better than they do. Maybe we don’t understand, you know, the dynamics of selling and really how customers . . .  Because you know, some of those salespeople have gone up against the objections, but we even try to mine all that information. We’ll talk to salespeople and interview them and ask them what kind of pushback do you get, you know, what are the things that they’re asking about that you don’t have? You know.

I mean, so we try to really vet that whole thing so that by the time we get in front of a CEO, I feel like it’s pretty tight. And I think we can defend virtually any of our definitions at some point. You’re right. You are going to have that, “This is my baby. How dare you . .

Alanna Jackson: Call it ugly?

Chad Nelson: Yeah, right exactly.

Stacy Jackson: Make my logo orange.

Chad Nelson: Right, right. And so, it’s not problem-free. That’s part of the discussion as you work through those things, and, and honestly, I don’t pretend to think, like, I understand things, you know, as well as the CEOs understand them. I mean, there’s so many parts of running a business and running their business. Dynamics and stuff with employees and partners, and you know, customers and product development. There’s so many dynamics that they’re going to actually have a much richer, deeper grasp of, and so we’re going to stay there with our definition. We’re going to argue in the merits for why we defined it a particular way, but at the end of the day, you’re right, you need to get buy-in from your executive team and have at some point.

They go, “No, I think you need to change this and this and this.” We try to find a way to come back and look at it and say, “Okay. Can we incorporate that feedback? Can we?” And usually there’s a way. It may not be our first choice but again, what you do want is buy in, so we would never want to end up with a brand were the CEO actually completely disagreed with our take on something.

Hopefully, there’s a discussion where you get through that.

Alanna Jackson: So, branding today has changed with the introduction of online strategies. How does the branding impact that? The overall online strategy?

Chad Nelson: I mean, I think it’s critical that someone actually understands their brand before they start into a sort of online strategy.

I think you need to understand sort of what you’re communicating, what your story is. What value. Because if you understand that, it’s going to impact content strategy part. It’s going to impact what you write about. It’s going to impact how do we write about it? You should be looking at, as you develop content . . . You should make sure that it reflects the company’s values and how you want to improve the world. Like how your solution actually improves the world.

I think another thing too; you know on content . . . And this probably goes to more of a social thing: It’s not even just about the content you write. I think if you really understand your brand you can actually curate or repost content, particularly if it validates your brand. I think that’s actually a strong way when you take actually outside people that aren’t a part of your company and say they’re essentially validating what we’ve always been validating, about, you know, how our approach to solving this problem, right?

Alanna Jackson: That’s kind of what we do when we do social for our clients, is anything that we curate it supports the message that they want to convey.

Chad Nelson: That’s right. Yeah. So, again, you can only do that if you first understand your brand. If you’re essentially just taking anything that has to do with the industry and popping it in there, then who knows what you’re supporting. You know, I suppose you’re supporting the industry here, but . . .

Alanna Jackson: you’re all over the place.

Chad Nelson: It’s not clear to customers, again, where you stand and what you believe in.

I think when it comes to keywords, too, you know, you need to have a keyword strategy that, again, where the things that your brand values those words need to rank high. You need to . . . So, if someone types that into a search query, then you’re coming up quick above the fold, you know, on those particular words because it’s saying to the to the customer, we value this approach. We value these words because that’s part of what our brand is.

I also think, you know, it absolutely should be a part of your emails that go out, you know, and that’s just good marketing. You know, you just want to have a strong, consistent brand. So, both visually and verbally your brand needs to be reflected in your email. Certainly, your website. It should be driving. All those things.

I think brand is actually getting more important than ever because, again, it’s so easy to blur the lines when you are literally the ingesting that much information. And so, if you don’t stand for something and you don’t have a consistent message so it’s clear what you stand for, you’re just going to be lost in the sea of information. So. It really needs to impact, yeah, your online strategy.

Stacy Jackson: You know Rand Fishkin, who’s famous in the SEO circles, he does a series of Whiteboard Friday [videos] for Moz. And this current series he has going, he’s walking people through SEO and why it’s important.

He made an important point in this last week’s episode where he said you can’t start with SEO strategy; you have to start with corporate goals and the brand. And so many people think, at least in my opinion, that if we just hit the right keywords, we’ll get all the traffic we need, or that SEO will generate the demand. But SEO should just funnel all the traffic to you based on what your brand and corporate goals are all about.

Chad Nelson: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, exactly. Well put.

Alanna Jackson: A moment ago, you mentioned that the website needs to communicate the brand as well. One thing that Stacy and I’ve noticed because, like you we focus on [smaller and mid-sized growing] B2B tech companies, we’ve noticed that a lot of times tech companies . . . their websites just do not reflect that they’re a tech company. Is that something that that you’ve found? Like, maybe it’s an older looking site, or it’s not a more modern feel, which you would expect a tech company to have?

Chad Nelson: So, this idea that that one of the attributes tech companies should have is a sense of innovation, that the solution’s new and it’s fresh and it actually provides something that hasn’t been provided and one of the ways you do that obviously, it’s through design you do that.

You should have a look that feels somewhat original and modern. I mean, because so often it’s technology creates efficiencies and things like that. And so, does your website communicate an efficiency? You know, is it . . . I mean, that’s one of the great things Apple does. You sense, like, their design actually reflects what they believe as a company, which is, you know, their technology is made for human beings . . . And it’s beautiful — its aesthetic. It’s like created not just as a utility, but it’s actually created to align with human beings. And when you look at their website, it’s like beautiful but simple. And you know, there’s just so many things they do right to visually and verbally communicate those brand attributes.

And so yes, I think again, first, you’ve got to figure out what do we believe in and, like you said, so often technology is there because it’s a tool. It’s a tool that can be used to help better communicate, to create efficiency. Those kinds of things and those attributes that you need to be communicated.

Stacy Jackson: Yeah, and your website should look as good as you hope your customers think your software looks.

Alanna Jackson: Yeah

Chad Nelson: That’s right. Yeah, right. No, right, exactly. So, if your website is inconsistent — if it’s broken, if it’s if it looks dated, that absolutely impacts the way people perceive your software.

Alanna Jackson: And if I can’t figure out what you do, right when I get to your site. I’m leaving. I don’t want to have to hunt and peck to figure out, “Okay, they said this on the link I clicked on Google, but I don’t see it anywhere on this page. I don’t know exactly what they do.” And I think that’s one thing that a lot of companies miss out on is clearly defining — even in, above the fold on the homepage . . .

Chad Nelson: What they do.

Alanna Jackson: What do you do?

Chad Nelson: Yeah, and you’re and you’re absolutely right because, again, that communicates something. I may extrapolate that like, “Oh, so if I use their user interface, I could equally be as lost, you know, or maybe their software is not going to be as intuitive as I thought because wow, there’s website sure isn’t.” And you’re right — you can’t help but make those comparisons.

And you know read through that. And that that is part of understanding your brand and then communicating it in all ways is important.

Stacy Jackson: So, Chad, are there any other thoughts that you’d like to leave us with when it comes to brands or branding that our audience should keep in mind?

Chad Nelson: Well, I can tell you someone that I really have looked up to and learned so much from is a gentleman by the name of David Aaker and David . . . I believe he works at Cal Berkeley, but he works for a company called Prophet, at least in his commercial world. Then I think he also teaches some courses. I think a Cal Berkeley. But he’s sort of been like a mentor just through his books, about what great branding is and here’s what he said when he talked about the vision. Here’s what great vision a well-defined brand can provide.

He said, “It reflects and supports the business strategy, differentiates from competitors. It resonates with customers. It energizes in and inspires employees and partners, and it precipitates a gush of ideas for marketing programs.” I thought that was really well put. Like, a brand . . . a really well-defined brand, has all those things. You know, it does support the business strategy. It does differentiate. It does resonate with customers. It does inspire employees. I mean, it’s just so many great ideas captured in that definition. And again David Aaker, you can find them on the internet. Really bright person someone, again, I’ve learned a lot from.

Stacy Jackson: Well, we’ll definitely add a link to his information in the show notes

Alanna Jackson: Well, Chad, thank you so much for joining us today. You have given us a lot of information and provided us with some things that hopefully all of the people listening, if they have a B2B tech company especially are considering, that they need to maybe refocus their attention on their branding and that they will reach out to you.

And in fact, how can they reach out to you? What’s some ways that they can connect with you? Is it LinkedIn, your website? Give us some examples.

Chad Nelson: I always love when people connect with me on LinkedIn. And it’s Chad Nelson at The Basis Group. And I mean that’s just an easy way to connect and then have a have a contact.

But certainly, they can also visit our website and that’s a www.thebasisgroup.com, and then they can also email me. My email is cnelsonatthebasisgroup.com. So. Yeah, anyone who’s interested or has questions, I’d love to hear from you.

Alanna Jackson: All right, folks. That is it for this episode of the marketing mix.

We hope you enjoyed it, and we hope that you will connect with Chad on social.

Don’t forget you can connect with us on Twitter and it’s stacy_jax and alanna_jax, or you can look us up on LinkedIn — that’s Stacy Jackson and Alanna Jackson.

If you have the Anchor app on your phone, don’t forget that you can visit our show there and leave us a voicemail.

Stacy Jackson: We might put it on next week’s episode. Have a good week guys.

Alanna Jackson: Bye.

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