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Published on Mar 27, 2024

How to build a B2B brand?

Branding, especially in startups, is an ongoing process of knowing and understanding two things:

  1. Who are we as an entity?

  2. Who is our customer/community?

The best possible point of similarity we can find between these two becomes an important anchor for branding. The ideal goal is to start thinking exactly like the community/customer thinks, learn the language they talk in, the top keywords that make rounds in their heads, and then go-to-market with empathy and proving to them: “We get it, we’re here to solve this with and for you, and here’s what we should do”. This gives the community a sense of being understood, and gives them solid reasons to turn to us again-and-again. Eventually, we must start speaking to the community in their language, build a deep connection, and nurture a cult-like following.

Let’s break this into three parts. First, we need to develop a framework, then a personality for the company, followed by various marketing activities. Let’s pick them one-by-one

I. Developing a framework

Let’s apply the same framework as explained above. This helps understand the littlest of details about the challenges faced by customers, while developing a character for the company. Let’s break it down.

1. Who are we as an entity?

Let’s assume we are a rising fintech startup from the Middle East to make this fun. The simplest way to do this exercise is to make a company analogous with a human being, and answer 4 fundamental questions:

  • What is our purpose?

    • To simplify spending management burdens for startups in the Middle East.

  • What is our vision?

    • A world where every single company focuses on its own mission, and not about their spending management.

  • What are our values?

    • Transparency

    • Integrity

    • Commitment towards community

    • Top quality

  • What are our characteristics?

    • Understanding customer needs

    • Addressing complex challenges

    • Simplicity

    • Thinking long-term

    • Being innovative

    • Thought leadership

    • Being helpful

    • Trustworthy

This exercise should ideally be done in a company-wide meeting. Once we have these points, we have a fair idea of what the startup’s personification looks like. This guides our choices in understanding how the brand will communicate, what it will stand for, what feeling the brand’s design assets and tone of language will give off, how a potential future AI chatbot would communicate, or who a possible brand mascot could be, and how it will embody these characteristics.

2. Who is our customer/community?

Let’s say, our fintech in the Middle East wants to primarily build a premium brand for enterprises. So, let’s only focus on them for now. There are two ways of defining enterprises in the Middle East.

  1. Understanding how all enterprises typically think

Here are some common characteristics amongst enterprises around the globe:

  • They are risk averse.

  • They prioritize scaling. 

  • They are big on compliance and security measures.

  • They care about cost efficiency and ROIs.

2. Understanding how Middle Eastern enterprises think

Based on my lean understanding, I can point out the following for now:

  • They are in desperate need of simplifying their spending patterns.

  • The CFOs love being perceived as futuristic.

  • They consider themselves an important part of UAE’s mission to be more tech-friendly and level up the country as a whole.

Other than these high-level data points, the fintech startup should understand their mindsets and challenges deeper, by spending more time with them. Here are a few spaces that could help with the same:

  • Observing sales calls

  • Attending relevant seminars and webinars

  • Joining any and all online communities and groups where CFOs chat

  • Going through existing content on the web

  • Social listening

  • Studying historical patterns

II. Personifying the company

The fintech startup should now build a unique brand personality and story (its own unique and authentic story would suffice!). Then, it should define its core messaging and positioning. To keep everything consistent, an internal branding guide would be beneficial too.

One important point to note here is internal marketing. If the internal teams don’t truly believe in the brand’s mission and values, nobody outside will buy it. If the startup is convinced that it needs to be a certain way, then the organization needs to breathe that as one. That is, everyone within the company feels one with the mission (as if it was their own), thinks along the same values, and internalizes its language. Think of what an NGO employee feels and brings to the table when they serve the underserved; and what could the company do if all the employees felt so deeply about the mission. 

And all this needs to be done without templated guides. Employees need to be enabled here so that they can have natural conversations with customers around these values. So whenever they interact with a customer, the customer will get a unified brand experience. To keep the spirit alive, we can keep setting transparent, cross-team goals and share the progress with every person in the company.

III. Brand Marketing

Continuing the example of the fintech startup in the Middle East, that wants to build a premium brand primarily for Enterprises, here are a few things they could do for brand marketing.

Improving existing assets

Auditing existing brand collateral like the website, blog, design elements, social media descriptions, documentation, UI copy, etc. will prove to be worth the time. This will ensure a unified brand is being presented.

Content and thought leadership

For a fintech company, the most obvious gap to be filled in the fintech space could be the complexity of the subject of spending management, given the related laws, regulations, compliances, taxes, etc. We must deeply understand these subjects ourselves, and over-simplify them for the enterprises. Then they can be broken down into categories, and long-form content pieces. Then, we must identify the most pressing questions out of these content pieces and turn them into smaller and easier-to-consume content pieces which should be distributed through both written and video formats (even a simple Loom video from the author works!).

Secondly, leading the way is important while nurturing trust. So, we can conduct our own market research rather than relying on the existing ones. These can be published as analyses and papers that even the top scholars would want to study. This is an indirect and slow-burn kind of way to nurture deep levels of trust.

P.S. The science in content artistry.

Public Relations

The most authentic way of getting your value across without tooting your own horn is to have someone else do it for you. If there are any obvious PR opportunities, we must take it. This can be at a small or large scale. A small scale can be a partnership with a popular newsletter in the industry. A large scale could be a nation-wide news article covering it.

Enterprise specific marketing

Account-based marketing

There must be a list of the enterprises in the Middle East. We can pick them up one by one, and run tailored campaigns for their specific needs and challenges.

Social proof and FOMO

Every company looks to some other companies for inspiration. Enterprises may be looking at other enterprises of the same scale. This may be easy to identify. If we can get such top-tier enterprises on board, and get case studies and testimonials from them, it will convince the other enterprises automatically.

Something radical

  • Create a newspaper-like design that delivers financial news to these CFOs’ inboxes every month/two weeks.

  • Create a YouTube channel for simplifying finance.

  • Create a content series for something remotely relatable. Like, “How to build a startup in the UAE?” Such value-based content is created only to build trust and recall value.

  • Host free-beer meetups for the CFOs in Dubai. 

  • Sponsor a wide-scale event that’s relevant.

  • Partner up with co-working spaces for promoting the brand in their office spaces.

Customer marketing

We must not forget the existing customers in an attempt to bring in new ones. Existing relationships should be nurtured through constant check-ins, valuable content pieces, and exclusive invites to the community initiatives. Such a holistic brand experience, that’s not only limited to using the products, would want them to stick with us long-term, helping our repeat-rates and word-of-mouth marketing.


Branding is about having a character and substance as a company. Premium branding is about showing up in that character every single time. While the brand will evolve with time, showing up everytime – just like your most reliable friend – will matter.

P.S. I am a huge supporter of brand marketing, and vision-based initiatives, since they are the most sustainable form of marketing. Read more here.