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The importance of branding for B2B in 2021

Kate Cox, CMO at Moneypenny discusses how Moneypenny relaunched the brand with an extensive marketing campaign.

Moneypenny has just spent the last year working on a brand exercise which cumulated in redesigning and rebuilding both our UK and US websites in 2021 and launching new advertising activity on radio in both markets. We are now at a stage to understand the impact of the process and reflect on the importance of branding in B2B marketing.
We work with businesses of all shapes and sizes from micro-businesses, so your local plumber, to multinationals and large financial organisations. We were founded by brother and sister, Ed Reeves and Rachel Clacher back in 2000 and have grown to become the leading provider in the UK and a challenger entrant to the US market. Our marketing has focused on growing the market for our products and services as we’re in a low awareness B2B category – we want other businesses to consider us a potential solution for their needs.

There were a number of drivers for us to revisit the Moneypenny brand in 2020 although it would be fair to say that ‘brand’ thinking has always been part of the Moneypenny DNA:

  • Moneypenny has been built on the idea of a dedicated PA for your business – someone you know and trust to look after your calls just in another office – perfect for smaller businesses who wanted to look bigger without the costs.  However we had onboarded a large number of businesses and launched new products such as managed live chat. We needed to make sure we’d aligned both our brand vision and our product propositions to the overall goals of the business and our future source of growth. 
  • Our co-founders set up Moneypenny to deliver the best service in the market for a price premium.  Did that proposition still resonate with our core target customers? Did it resonate across all target segments including larger businesses? Did it still help drive clear water between us and our competitors ? And was the number of businesses who cared about brilliant service a big enough market to fuel our growth?
  • Since its inception in 2020 Moneypenny has grown quickly and to maintain this growth our marketing team needed some clear guidelines on both copy and design to start scaling output at pace to keep up with all the product innovations being launched so revisiting brand and re-cementing an updated brand playbook was a practical step to achieve speed. 
  • We had bought established companies both in the UK and the US to help us grow and the US ones  during the pandemic lockdown. We had never written down our brand beliefs and we needed this to onboard and integrate these new teams and cultures quickly and efficiently.

We worked with the brand agency, BrandCap on our solution and we included as many stakeholders as we could from employees, current , ex and future customers , investors and partners so we had a rounded view of the business. Through a series of collaborative workshops we developed our brand idea ‘Your businesses second home’ and then tested that in the market.

We loved the idea because it perfectly summed up the unique culture at Moneypenny; our PAs and receptionists feel like part of their customers business and not just an outsourcing provider. Many had built up 20 year relationships with their clients and knew birthdays and partners birthdays. It also helped us think through which customers would NOT like the proposition so we could actively not target these groups. We felt that businesses looking for the lowest cost provider without a focus on exceptional service would be actively dissuaded from the brand idea and that this would drive efficiencies for the sales team.

‘Your businesses second home’ was a brilliant sense maker for all the amazing things we do at Moneypenny but were based on gut feel – for example – we give out Moneypenny branded socks to all our customers when they join us. This just felt right when it was started but thinking through how this fits with ‘your businesses second home’ it started to make sense about why it was right : socks are about comfort and familiarity and something you show when you’re at home. Modern marketing can be highly fragmented as channels split into many different silos from Instagram to Events, Websites to Brand advertising. A clear brand vision can harmonise all the different needs for marketing across a business.

We then adapted all our external marketing and sales materials around the brand idea and redesigned and rebuilt the websites to make them faster, slicker and more easily updateable and launched them in Q1 2021 in the UK and US. We relaunched radio campaigns in both markets to help drive through the proposition.

We also updated our internal values based on our brand idea. We used a chatbot on our internal communications system, Workplace from Facebook to help guide our thinking here with employees helping to shape and mould the values we all sign up to. 

We knew that Happy People = Happy Customers and as a service business we need to ensure all our touchpoints across the customer journey delivered on exceptional service. Our Moneypenny culture is very strong so the fact that we had built the brand thinking on our existing cultural foundations of trust and service quality was key to its acceptance and resonance across the business.

Why is branding important in B2B?

  • Helps align all the touchpoints across a customer journey into more than the sum of the parts: from marketing, to sales, to onboarding, to operations, to remembering your customers’ birthdays. 
  • Helps the organisation move at pace on new product developments and marketing activity: does it fit the brand vision? What does the promotion look like? Our go to market plans have sped up considerably.  
  • Overall, getting to a clear brand idea helps deliver against our business goals: providing a clear reason to charge a price premium for a better service and drive and to educate the market on why we’re different. Since we have started advertising on radio the volumes and quality of our leads has increased x fold because we are actively reaching out to the businesses who want a service like ours.
  • Conversions rates on our websites also increased as we were attracting more people who wanted a service like ours to visit and then providing them the information they needed to raise their hand and talk to our sales team. 

Key learnings:

  • Mine your businesses’s DNA for the marketing gold: branding works best as a sense maker on existing business attributes: even brand repositioning tends to focus on existing but unacknowledged attributes about a business. Uncover the key insights that make you different from your competitors and check that it’s still relevant to the target market.  
  • Make it collaborative at all stages of the journey: branding only works to drive business performance if all teams understand its power: finance, sales and operations are all critical partners in the journey.
  • Link the branding project to the future growth of the company: branding was about accelerating growth by talking to a lot more businesses who might find our proposition appealing: that’s why a channel like radio proved very successful for us as it allowed us to reach millions more than traditional B2B marketing channels such as events or paid search alone.
  • Make sure the execution links to both external communications and internal : after all brands can be made or broken by the internal culture that delivers them so aligning to the employee experience had to be critical to get traction.

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