‘Merch’ gets a bad rap in B2B circles. We’ve all walked away from a trade show exhibition booth, weighed down by a bounty of branded pens that some executive somewhere believes will be the key to convincing customers to do business with them.
“It’ll remind them of us when they use it!” they will cry.
Ultimately, however, these sad, throwaway products are just that; things that are inevitably discarded as you desperately try and get below the carry on luggage allowance for your return trip home.
But then there are exceptions. Take Fast, the one-click-checkout company. This week, I spent my actual money on a festive-themed hoodie from the B2B fintech company. Why did I do this? Why would anyone do this?
Fast has done a phenomenal job building their brand. They have also nailed the two elements that need to be nailed by any organization that aspires to persuade people to wear clothing with their logo on it outside of an exhibition hall.
- Personality. Fast doesn’t sound like a ‘traditional’ B2B brand. By that, I mean Fast sounds like a human. Or at least there’s an actual human writing the copy across its social media. It asks questions. It draws links to pop culture. It runs giveaways. Adopting a more friendly tone of voice encourages people to engage. And this, in turn, helps develop an emotional connection.
- Community. Fast turbo-charged their brand awareness this year with the hiring of Matthew Kobach as Head of Content, who, through a combination of expert social media strategy and his position as an influencer, has successfully built a legion of loyal fans around the brand. When people buy a hoodie from Fast, they don’t just buy a hoodie; they buy into something they want to be a part of.
I’m of the opinion that every B2B organisation should aspire to develop a brand that people actually want to have plastered over their clothing. Why not? If people want products with your logo on it, you’ve done something that is incredibly difficult to do – build something people actually care about.
To some degree, this requires shifting your mindset to thinking more like a consumer brand. It requires investment in tone of voice, community building and emotional storytelling. It means taking creative risks and not relying solely on data about what’s worked before to determine what you’re going to do next.
But, if you get it right, you’ll end up with this kind of loyalty to show for it.