Think branding is only for big, consumer brands? Think again. And just do it. Photo by Kristian Egelund on Unsplash

What you need to know about brand building for B2B startups.

It’s like a superpower, and you can have it now.

Mike Troiano
Aug 24 · 5 min read

B2B = B2P

If you think something as soft as “emotional value” doesn’t matter in the sale of hardcore enterprise technology to men (mostly) in short-sleeved dress shirts, you don’t understand how human beings make decisions. Just think about the way you’ve made even the biggest decisions in your life. How did you decide what to do for a living or which house to buy, where to go to college or even who to marry? Odds are you had some rational justification for these choices, but if you reflect a little more deeply, you’ll find emotion played a huge role in the options you explored, the short list you winnowed down to, and the final choice from among attractive options.

You build a brand with a story

A brand is built through the creation, telling, and sharing of a story. I’ve written a lot about startup storytelling lately, and if you’re not sure why it’s such a big deal (or you’re just struggling to write one) read How to Tell A Startup Story.

An example…

Let me give you an example, from a business of mine not long ago.

Which would you be interested in learning more about?

Odds are it’s the latter, as demonstrated by the way the growth rate shifted in the face of this change.

The Value of Storytelling

The value of a great startup story goes way beyond brand building, and way beyond marketing. Creating it surfaces important strategic questions, and gets your team on the same page. Using it consistently makes your marketing more effective and shapes the priorities of your product, reducing friction in attracting capital, talent, and customers. Refining it marks your progress from what you think you’re selling today to what the world actually wants to buy.

But you can build an enterprise tech brand by convincing a very small group of important people — as few as 20 or 30 thousand, worldwide — that what you’re doing matters to them.

You don’t need to spend like Coke to do that, or for anywhere near as long. But you do need to understand the game you’re playing, and what it takes to win.

Where do I start?

Start by trying a few things, to see what works building awareness and excitement across that small group of people. Focus your PR effort, and your analyst program, and extend it to include influencers in the space. Who do your customers follow, read, listen to, respect? Make yourself visible in the social networks and blogs, mostly by participating in ways that bring value to the community. Tighten up the messaging on your web site. Invest in design, freshen up your identity, improve the frequency and production values of your audio and video content.

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