I’ve started hanging out at Google Campus (Old Street, London) a few days a week to try and get a feel for the emerging tech community that is housed within this free facility. Amongst this merry band of Apple loving mobile warriors (Seriously 95% have a MacBook) is a mix of serial and first time entrepreneurs all sharing thoughts, ideas, skills and points of view on how to birth the next Google.
It might seem odd that Google is at the heart of a community that could be creating the next anti-Google product or service, but that’s not the point.
What is important is that Google is sending a brand signal to the rest of the world that it genuinely cares about trying to birth the next wave of innovative technology.
A shift from explicit to implicit communications
This is part of the modern marketing evolution away from a reliance on explicit marketing communications (advertising, direct marketing, PR, telemarketing…) towards something new and progressive which is the power of implicit communications.
Let me explain.
Think of implicit communications as brand ‘body language’ i.e. the non-verbal or implicit things a brand does to demonstrate its commitment to its core purpose, the community in which it operates, its employees, society and the planet at large.
Implicit communications often showcase the ‘real’ company i.e. the stuff that happens behind the scenes, and boy is this stuff powerful when it comes to making decisions about the brands we want to work with.
You see in a world of ‘me too’ products and services savvy business buyers and procurement departments are always looking for that ‘something extra’ that can tip the balance for one vendor over another. They are looking for clues that reduce the risk of making a bad decision.
In the most part brand body language is driven on three levels:
1: Employee engagement: The things a brand does to motivate and engage its employees in order to create a high performance culture.
2: CSR/Sustainability: The things a brand does to either ‘give something back’ or improve its impact on the planet.
3: Commitment to the cause: The things a brand does to demonstrate its commitment to its purpose and the market or community it serves.
All of these brand signals have many aspects to them, but what they ultimately reflect is a desire and commitment to be a better company.
Is anyone thinking about this stuff?
For the most part these brand signals are never given the strategic consideration they deserve. In my opinion these are the most powerful indicators that any company can have at its disposal that says “We are working harder to be a better company”.
What’s more important is that through the power of social media and social tools these powerful brand signals can express more about the ‘true colour’ of a brand than any manufactured marketing campaign. They also provide a much-needed injection of personality and emotion into the traditional explicit (and functional) product marketing of many B2B brands.
A better type of content
B2B brand owners are crying out for more genuine and authentic content. By leveraging some of the things you are already doing you can make a subtle impact to the way your customers perceive you.
Don’t be scared of trying to showcase your commitment to a cause or charity. For example, if your male employees are passionate about something like Movember (Moustache growing charity activity) help them make it something really, really special. If you want to encourage volunteerism amongst your staff, give it a voice beyond your intranet.
The real secret
The real trick with brand signals is threefold. 1: Internally have a strategic view of the impact they can have. 2: Invest in them wisely and for the right reasons 3: Leave it to your customers and prospects to ‘discover them for themselves’, but give them the option to participate if they so desire.
What to do next?
1: Audit: Do a quick audit of the key things you have done as a brand either from an employee engagement, CSR/Sustainability or customer commitment point of view in the last 12 months.
2: Impact: Analyse the communication strategy behind each one and whether or not it had any reach or impact outside the walls of your company i.e. did you socialise any of the content, have you got a section on your web site that lets customers see what you have been doing?
3: Action: Pick 3 activities for 2013 and make a real effort to give them presence and visibility outside of your own intranet. Think of ways to get your customers to participate as well. Bake-in social media into all these activities.
- Use Secret and public Pinterest boards
- Create a community in Google + communities
- Create and curate video content on YouTube
- Use Facebook to showcase the fun side of your B2B brand
- Create a section on your web site that showcases what you are doing
- Use Twitter/Instagram to share stories and pictures and get conversations started
- DON’T USE LINKEDIN!!
Brand body language can be a huge asset for many B2B companies. It’s a new and unchartered way of thinking for most of us that makes it a prime opportunity for those smart enough to seize the opportunity.
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