Creating an Umbrella for both Branding and Lead Gen
Challenge: Corporate brand guidelines can often stifle tactical lead generation
Every company lives by driving revenue. In the case of B2B technology companies, marketing ensures revenue results by driving the quality and quantity of the prospects in the pipeline in order for the sales organization to reach its sales targets. Marketing provides the fuel with which the sales organization can meet and exceed business plan targets.
Many times brand guidelines can be seen (or enforced) in a way that limits pipeline creation. This can take the form of narrowly interpreting brand principles that stifle advertising innovation or can limit more tactical/direct messaging that drives advertising response rates. That said, the marketer needs to protect the brand and ensure that every outbound message reinforces key tenets and principles. Color palettes and visual IDs are frequently not the issue here.
A formal messaging ladder that encompasses key product differentiation is what can really drive alignment. Messaging needs to be detailed enough to enable the prospect to understand capabilities and differentiation while being consistent with higher level brand promises. This can be challenging for large organizations with wide product portfolios, where the messaging ladder also needs to be updated (sometimes frequently) to support the product portfolio. There needs to be a clear set of messages that marketers can use to create and execute programs – while remaining brand compliant. In the ideal scenario, the marketing group clearly understands the messaging platform and all creative is developed from the ground up in a way that is consistent with the overall brand.
Scenarios where brand trumps demand generation must be avoided, and brand guidelines should be broad enough to support product and solution messaging that drive awareness, interest and consideration. The purpose of the brand guidelines is to leverage messages over the long run and not limit pipeline in the short run. Brand should serve the needs of pipeline creation – while ensuring consistency of overall message, voice and visual structures and constructs.
I am reminded about a time many years ago when my kids were little and they asked me what I did at work. What is ‘marketing’ after all? My answer at the time was, “marketing helps sales people sell.” Focusing on brand purity at the expense of pipeline development seems to be putting the cart before the horse. So brand guidelines need to provide a framework where demand generation can survive, grow and become increasingly effective.
Lesson: Brand guidelines should serve product marketing and demand generation – not the other way around.