Exceptions: An Original Series Going Inside the World's Most Creative B2B Brands

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“Brand.” What the hell does that even mean?

Is your brand a logo, a tagline, or an ad campaign? Is it the design and color scheme of your website and marketing collateral? Is it that funny YouTube video featuring your employees? (Hashtag CULTURE!)

If you’re like me and have only ever worked in B2B marketing, then “brand” is … complicated. See, for generations, B2B companies ignored the need to proactively build strong brands, preferring instead to win on product competency and by building a big sales and marketing engine. But that’s changing. In today’s world, the buyer has all the power because the buyer faces insane amounts of choice — even in the case of B2B niches. And what do we as humans choose to spend both time and money on? Great experiences.

That’s what brand is: how others experience your company. And since “companies” don’t exist but collections of PEOPLE do, then brand is the emotional response others have to the behavior of your people.

No longer can brand be a dirty word or overlooked idea in B2B. Brand is the moat that you build around the company. Arguably, as more and more products get commoditized and copied (just ask any SaaS business), brand is THE approach to building a thriving company today. Building a people-powered, customer-centric brand is the one defensible thing in B2B today. It makes you exceptional by making you an exception.

So, um … how does that actually work?

Welcome to Exceptions, an audio documentary series that goes inside some of the world’s best B2B companies to understand how and why they’re building exceptional brands. I’m partnering with Drift to bring you this show, because they’re all about putting the human element back into B2B sales and marketing.

Below, you’ll find episodes in a running log for each season of the show. In each episode — which are highly produced with narration, music, and sweet-sounding editing — we review a few things:

  1. What makes the brand exceptional?

  2. What do actual customers have to say? (We talk about being customer-centric in business today, but we never hear from the actual customer. That changes with this show.)

  3. What’s our Big Idea of the week for building our brands?

  4. How does the work of each brand we profile illustrate that Big Idea? (I typically talk to an executive and a practitioner from each company to get two types of perspectives).

  5. What three questions can we ask ourselves, inspired by that particular episode, to create exceptional brands ourselves?

It’s a simple question to ask, really: Do you want to be a commodity in your industry, or will you find and follow what makes your brand … the exception?

Welcome to the show…

Season 1

first round capital exceptions


Posted on October 19, 2018 .