Are You an Ingredient Brand?

Ingredient Brands: The things that make things better. What they are, why it matters, and how to market them more effectively.

August 3, 2020 / Marjoram

Ingredient brands? Say what?

To put it plainly, “ingredients” are the parts or components (chips, adhesives, algorithms) that power a product (computers, packaging, search).

As for the “brands” portion of it, that’s easy enough. They are the companies that create those parts or components that make up the end products.

Are you an igredient brand?

If you’re making a cake (end product), you’re going to need eggs (parts)—unless it’s a vegan cake, but we’ll table that for another article.

The eggs are essentially invisible to the cake eater, yet the quality of the dessert depends on the quality of the eggs. That’s why many premium cake-making marketers tout the benefits of their high-end ingredients: cage-free eggs as well as spring water, organic wheat, etc.

Such premium attributes (cage-free, organic, etc.) have already been established to their audience as beneficial. Whether the benefit is emotional (cage-free = humane) or literal (cage-free = tastes way better; have you seen how orange those yolks are?) or both, listing the eggs as “cage-free” signals a superior cake.

So, if Hetties’s Hen Farm is the best cage-free egg producer out there—or at least the one everyone knows—adding the origin brand to the ingredients list adds even more value to the cake maker. Wouldn’t this also be a smart strategy when cooking up awesome products in other industries besides cake? But how do you do that when you’re essentially invisible to your target audience?

More importantly, why are you invisible to the people who could really use you?

Do you speak the language of audiences who would buy your parts? Or are your communications riddled with jargon?

Do you categorize your components in industries that sound pretty schmancy but aren’t really the places people would know to look for you? Or—high five if this is you!—do you show up easily in the exact spaces where your potential customers are?

Intel, the chip behind the tech of so many great products, solved its problem by proudly waving their own flag to the end consumer (the public) of the end product (technology devices).

Their message? Insist on the powerful chip behind the tech that powers so many great products that empower humanity.

Intel = ingredient brand
Powerful/power/empowers = benefit
Humanity = end user

Pretty basic messaging and pretty, well, powerful.

It’s powerful because it speaks directly to the end user’s benefit. Hearing that message—loud and clear—the end user looks for it in their products. With that level of brand recognition, products seek out Intel to use as a component.

“Hang on,” you might be thinking, “of course that’s a good example. Intel used B2C tactics and that’s way easier than B2B. Have you seen my org chart? I’m a product owner under strict global brand governance. I’m in a jam.”

We hear you.

Yes, B2B is its own unique beast. And yes, it can be trickier than B2C, but why not make the “C” into “Whoever Would Use Your Super Amazing Ingredients?” They’ll be missing out if they don’t, right? You know that—now make them realize it, too.

This is achievable.

We promise, there really is a way to pull your global promise and product benefit together. Hint: It’s about messaging.

Creating a B2B story through the language of B2C starts with an analysis of your communications as well as those of your direct competitors.

What are you saying and how?

Who are you saying it to? IT? C-suite? Sales? All three? Ask yourself what keeps them up at night and nine times out of ten, it will be something different.

Different worries equal different conversations. And that “worry” part is really important. Because if you lead with empathy and commiserate, people usually open up to ask for solutions.

Diving into all of the above is the first step to building a solid framework all communications launch from. Here’s what else proves true:

What you make isn’t your story. What you make possible is. Hold that thinking up to every communication that goes out the door.

Jargon is garbage. Throw it away because it doesn’t say anything. Worse, it confuses the people you’re trying to help.

Consistency & sameness are different but still play nice together. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Identifying what messaging works under the brand umbrella helps you sell products without sounding way off the global branding key.

Your communications are a living, breathing thing. Review them often to see if they still serve your audience. And don’t take advice from a shouty listicle-of-the day. “The top five trends happening right now!!! [obnoxious emoji]” may have nothing to do with your audience. Like, nothing. At. All. [Facepalm emoji].

Be helpful. Serve up content that matches audience needs: videos for emotion, PDFs for shareable information, bulleted lists for scanability, etc.

Yeah, we come by it honestly.

We’ve been helping B2B component brands bake high quality results for more than 20 years. Mix us into your strategy and see what you can make possible.

Fresh Perspectives

A newsletter we send every other Friday to share our ramblings, perspectives, thoughts, and rants on all things B2B branding, messaging and marketing.

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