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For decades, b-to-b brands have formed their visual identity and logos based on “professional” tones and styles. We’ve all seen them: blue or red text splashed on a plain white background with minimal additional color, often devoid of any personality or flair.
Appropriate for a corporate audience? Sure. Effective in attracting today’s social-first audience? Not so much.
Leaning on a corporate tone and feel is a dated approach that doesn’t reflect the increasingly blurred lines between the b-to-b and b-to-c worlds. In fact, according to LinkedIn, more than two-thirds (69%) of b-to-b marketers agreed that b-to-b purchasing decisions are just as emotionally driven as b-to-c, highlighting the need for b-to-b brands to tap into their creativity and show up in a bolder way.
Breaking free from the status quo and revealing our bold side were key drivers for Hootsuite’s new brand identity, which we announced last year. As a b-to-b company, we wanted to move away from the corporate stereotype and create a new, refreshed brand that would urge our audience to do a double take—or, rather, a double tap.
As a b-to-b brand, it’s important for us to recognize that not only are we competing with our b-to-b peers on social, but we’re also competing with creators and b-to-c brands on the same platforms. We need to push ourselves to go beyond the confines of what b-to-b marketing traditionally looks like and create content that will stand out from the already saturated and noisy nature of social.
Here are three key takeaways for any brand—b-to-b or otherwise—looking to level up their visual identity and garner remarkable results:
Complement, don’t interrupt
Informed by the above insights and feedback from our customers, Hootsuite’s new brand identity was reimagined around being social-first.
What does this look like in practice? Being social-first means appearing on social in the same way the average user would by showing real people doing real things, being representative of the world we live in and complementing a user’s feed—not interrupting it with stale and corporate creative.
To bring this to life, we created the tagline “Your guide to the wild” to distinguish ourselves as social experts in the space. We changed our plain black and white logo to a vibrant saffron and green color palette (inspired by the mountains of our home city, Vancouver), and gave our wise icon, Owly, a makeover, complete with a bolder, cheekier voice and a library of different expressions.
Keep representation authentic
Being social-first is not limited to how a brand appears on a social feed.
For Hootsuite, it was equally important for social-first to be embedded in our creative DNA. We wanted to feature real people throughout our rebrand—from our website to our social media content—and to work with creators instead of paid actors in all our ads and refreshed brand assets.
As a result, we saw an initial post-launch average view rate of 32% for our campaign, significantly outperforming the general b-to-b benchmark of 15% and reinforcing that our audience was drawn to the new creative—and that representation of real people resonated with those viewing the ads.
Embrace creative collaboration
Everyone is a creator in some way. We all live in a social-first world and have ideas about what will attract others or drive the next viral video. Multiple brains will always be better than one, which is why it’s so important to embrace collaboration and tap into experts across fields when planning campaigns.
As someone who has worked with many creators and agencies in the past, I strongly believe that you don’t hire someone and tell them how to do their job. You hire them and ask for their ideas.
The results we’ve seen have stemmed from the collaboration and alignment with those we worked with and our collective visions. They wanted to work hard for us because we wanted to work hard for them. And when you put that above the rate card and all the other traditional metrics around agency strategy, you get outsized returns—no matter the actual rate.
More than ever, b-to-b marketers have a unique opportunity to be transformational on social. Regardless of the industry you work in, social will always be a breeding ground for creativity, allowing you to experiment freely, test and iterate or throw out the rule book altogether. Our rebrand was a true test in accepting risk for greater reward and is a great case in redefining what marketing at a b-to-b organization has been known to be.
This is just the beginning, and I can’t wait to see the transition to a more creative future where corporate branding is a thing of the past.
This story is part of Adweek’s Advertising Redefined digital package, which spotlights all the ways that the industry is evolving as brands face greater challenges than ever in reaching consumers.