B2B Branding: what to expect in 2020

Branding represents a new growth opportunity in the B2B world as innovative companies step away from outdated corporate identities, repositioning their brands to connect with buyers on a more personal level.

Each day we encounter between 4,000 – 10,000 brand messages and in 2020 that number is set to rise. With competition for consumer mindshare greater than ever and tolerance for poor brand communications at an all time low, understanding and acting on the latest corporate identity and branding trends is a vital step towards gaining (and maintaining) a competitive edge.

In recent years animation and custom graphics have dominated the visual language of B2B businesses who finally acknowledged their audience are humans: tired of the generic cross-industry creative they have been exposed to for so long.

Alongside the continuation of these trends the new decade will see a number of new themes in the world of B2B Branding. Businesses that take heed will be sure to avoid falling off the brandwagon (sorry!) in the not too distant future.

1. Consistency is queen:

A recent Lucidpress study revealed consistent branding across all platforms and channels has been shown to increase revenue by an average of 33%. Large corporations have been championing the importance of brand consistency and brand compliance for years, but it will be an area of exploration for mid to small companies (including start ups) as we move into 2020. Expect to see an increased investment in cloud-hosted brand management software as employees across all job functions invest more hours into ensuring their output complies with brand guidelines. With 24/7 access to pre-approved assets these platforms arm employees with the tools and knowledge they need to create assets of their own. Removing unnecessary feedback loops and freeing up the brand team in the process.

2. Digital-first Logos:

Expect to see two (quite different) B2B branding logo trends for in 2020, so pick your side and do not look back. With dozens of household names recently stripping back their logos the minimalist approach of the last couple of years is here to stay – expect to see simplified lettering, reduced color options and basic logomarks.

Facebook’s new typography format

On the other hand the mass adoption of digital will bring with it a wealth of fluid, playful and adaptable identities as brand looks to capitalize on the new formats available – a stark contrast to the aforementioned approach.

A year-long project by ITV with different designers reinterpreting the TV channel’s branding in playful and fluid styles

Although different in execution both trends share the same end goal – improved user experience with a specific focus on smartphones. Minimalist and fluid logos allow for a number of variants on the same creative which display brilliantly on smaller screens and marketing collateral. The same however cannot be said for OOH advertising – perhaps an early indication of future marketing budget allocation.

3. Green is the new pink:

A study by the University of Loyola reveals color can increase brand recognition by up to 80%. In recent years the importance of color has been recognised by businesses in both the B2B and B2C space. Blue has come to dominate branding in the tech industry, reds have been used alongside blue by those in healthcare and green has unsurprisingly become synonymous with renewables. This year expect to see (drum roll….) neomint!! Goodbye and good riddance millennial pink!

Ladies and gentlemen… Neomint!

So why is neomint going to dominate our newsfeeds this year? For a start it combines well with warm, natural colors – terractora, sky blue and light greens, all predicted to be in favor with designers. It can also be said to combine traits that many businesses would like to embody: progressive, forward thinking, conscientious and of course organic. As is often the case it is likely B2C brands will be the first to take advantage of this new shade – but there is a real opportunity for B2B branding to stand out from the crowd by embracing this color trend as well. Could you be an early adopter?

4. Typography:

Google Animated Logo
Google’s dynamic logo

We’re excited for this one. Expect typographic selections in 2020 to break free from the safe options of the past. With brands competing for every nano-second of the users attention eye catching, dynamic typography is the new black – print centric fonts are a  thing of the past with consideration needed to be given to new content forms: think GIFS, short form, and 3D. Expect to see more serifs and super-bold options across the B2B sectors.

5. Stock is (kind of) dead:

B2B designers rejoice! For too long we’ve been forced to scour the web looking for generic off-the-shelf images for websites, social posts and brochures. It’s time to get creative. Brands of the future recognize that to stand out personality and values must be reflected in their image choice. Custom illustrations will return to the B2B space in volume, a totally unique medium through which to tell your story.

Siemens by Ogilvy & Mather

Stock photos will be heavily altered and updated through color treatment, filters and graphic overlays. Every brand should strive to use totally imagery unique imagery, those that don’t risk going unnoticed amongst the custom content being created.

6. Icons will evolve:

The basic icon sets we know and love / hate are overused, many haven’t changed since Clipart and nothing drags us back to the 90s like a black and white graph vector. In the world of B2B icons serve a purpose and their function is unlikely to change, however their designs are limited only by our imagination making 2020 the year of custom iconography.

Be it for web, a deck or an interactive .pdf, unique brand-centric icons bring a custom feel to the work. They show a considered and consistent (see point 1) approach to content creation, one that demonstrates a commitment to professionalism and an attention to detail. In the next five years the majority of B2B branding will be using custom icon sets, if you’re looking to future-proof your brand consider developing one of your own.

Vonage rebrand by Wolff Olins

Up until recently many B2Bs had neither the resources nor inclination to invest in their brands – seeing creativity and storytelling as a luxury afforded to B2C businesses. These trends are only a snapshot of what we can expect to see 2020 – but what we can say for certain is the importance of brand in B2B is finally being understood.

The influx of new players are bringing not only new products and services, but a new generation of employees – and therefore buyers – who place greater significance on the value of brand in the purchase decision. There are significantly more decision makers in the B2B buying process all with different needs. Not one of them leave their personalities and emotions at home when they go to work.

When presented with multiple varieties of the same solutions simply sharing the same rational product messaging as your competitors is not a differentiator. A considered story, refreshing content and distinctive identity are vital tools for getting yourself noticed, after all “humanity must not be lost in a tech-obsessed world.”


How do vision and mission statements impact a company's long-term direction?

Effective vision and mission statements should ideally constitute important tools in formulating a company’s strategy. They should largely remain unchanged through the years, though a significant pivot may bring about new vision and mission statements. Together, they work to define the focus of the business and how it impacts the world. 

The vision statement is a representation of your company’s view of a better world. The mission statement reflects how it sets about to achieve this vision. They work together to create internal alignment and help with strategic decision making. When planning for the future, developing new products, or experimenting with new strategies, teams can perform a quick check against the vision and mission statements to ensure that these initiatives are aligned with the essence of the brand. 

In short, the vision and mission statements are powerful tools which can and should impact decisions across the organizations, making them important factors in a company’s long-term direction.

How does brand strategy influence the overall success of a business?

Your brand strategy reflects how your brand sees the world and its role within it. It is the framework that, ideally, should guide all your communications (both external and internal) and audience touchpoints, i.e. each interaction an audience member has with your business. 

Having standardized communication across all channels and touchpoints makes business processes smoother and positively influences your client relationships, ensuring you develop strong, long-term connections with your customers. It also simplifies strategic decision-making and aligns your team. All these factors are vital to the success of a business.

How do messaging frameworks help communicate your brand message effectively?

Messaging frameworks are structured guides that outline the core messages, value propositions, and differentiators of a brand. They ensure consistency across all communications, from marketing materials and social media posts to customer service interactions. By defining key messages that resonate with the brand's target audiences, messaging frameworks help ensure that a brand’s communications are clear and memorable. 

They also help organizations stay aligned internally and ensure that each member, regardless of their role, understands what the brand’s key message is and how to communicate it effectively. This internal alignment is crucial for presenting a unified brand image to the outside world.

What specific elements contribute to a brand's verbal identity?

A brand’s verbal identity should align your team on how your brand communicates and how this communication changes depending on the situation. It defines a specific and recognizable language through which your brand can deliver its message to your audience or audiences.

Typically, a verbal identity includes some, or all, of the following elements:

Brand personality: This captures the human traits or characteristics that your brand embodies, such as being adventurous, sophisticated, or reliable, which help shape how your brand is perceived.

Brand voice: The brand voice reflects how your brand reflects its personality across all communication channels.

Brand tone: While the brand voice remains consistent, the brand tone can change depending on the context of the message and the audience being addressed, ranging from formal and professional to informal and friendly.

Messaging frameworks: These are strategic tools that outline the key messages your brand intends to communicate to its different target audiences, ensuring that all messaging is aligned with your brand's mission, vision, and value propositions.

Messaging examples: These provide specific examples of how your brand's messaging might be applied in various scenarios.

Style and grammar guidelines: These outline your preferred spelling, grammar, and style, ensuring that your communication is consistent across the board. 

What are some key considerations when developing a tone of voice for a brand?

The first and most important consideration is the brand’s personality. While businesses are functional, they still communicate with people – and people primarily connect with stories and personas. Your brand’s personality will define a set of human characteristics which reflect how it sees itself in the world. By giving your brand these human attributes, you are making it both distinctive and easier to identify with. The tone of voice should reflect your brand’s personality.

It’s also important to consider your target market and your audience’s expectations. While having a distinctive tone of voice is important for memorability, there is such a thing as being too different. If all brands in your segment adopt a serious, professional tone, and you would like to be fun and playful, there is certainly space for that, but consider very carefully why you are doing it.


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How do brand guidelines ensure consistency in visual identity across different platforms?

Brand guidelines are a key tool for maintaining a consistent visual presentation across various platforms. These guidelines typically outline the main use cases where the brand's visual identity will appear and provide comprehensive rules and standards.

The guidelines include detailed instructions on how to use the brand’s assets, such as logos, color palettes, typography, and imagery. This ensures that anyone using these assets, whether they're designers, marketers, or external partners, can apply them correctly and consistently. 

It’s crucial that the entire team is familiar with these guidelines. It’s important to get team buy-in on the visual identity and ensure that the guidelines are easily accessible. When the whole team understands and follows the guidelines, the brand's visual identity remains unified across all touchpoints, enhancing brand recognition and trust.

How does visual identity differ across industries, and how can a brand ensure it stands out while remaining authentic?

Visual identity varies significantly across industries, shaped by both the industry norms and the unique aspects of each brand. Understanding where your brand stands in the competitive market is essential when crafting a visual identity that both stands out and remains authentic.

Industries have distinct visual trends that are often expected by consumers. For instance, financial services brands typically adopt a reserved, traditional look with a color palette dominated by blues and greys. In contrast, skincare brands often go for a lighter, more colorful approach with pastels. Being aware of these industry-specific trends is important because it helps to decide how much your brand should differentiate itself from these norms. This differentiation should be based on your audience's expectations and your brand's unique value propositions.

For example, a financial services brand that emphasizes its use of innovative technologies might choose a more digital-oriented visual language. Similarly, a skincare brand that focuses on scientific innovation might benefit from a more science-based visual language.

How does competitive benchmarking influence the development of a visual identity?

Competitive benchmarking is important in developing a brand's visual identity as it provides insights into the market environment. By examining the competition, a brand can better understand its unique value proposition and strengths. This understanding is crucial in identifying what sets the brand apart from others.

With this knowledge, a brand can lean into its unique strengths when crafting its visual language. This approach ensures that the visual identity not only looks appealing but also reinforces the brand’s distinct point of view and competitive edge.

What are the key considerations when creating visual concepts for a brand?

The visual identity of a brand should quickly and clearly reflect its strategic positioning. Designers begin the process of creating visual concepts by immersing themselves in the brand’s strategy to extract key narrative themes. These themes are then translated into a visual language that employs both emotional and aesthetic elements to communicate the brand's messages. This translation is crucial as it shapes how the audience perceives and interacts with the brand.

When developing visual concepts, it's important to make sure they align with the brand's strategy and fit well within the competitive landscape: demonstrating key differentiators, but still fitting into the industry at large. The visuals should also be suitable for the mediums they will be used in. Whether for digital, print, or physical applications, the choice of medium can greatly influence how the visual concepts are designed.

How does visual identity contribute to brand recognition and trustworthiness?

Visual identity is key to boosting brand recognition and trustworthiness, especially in busy markets. When a company maintains a consistent visual brand across different platforms, it becomes easier for customers to recognize and remember it. This consistency is crucial for standing out among competitors.

Having a consistent visual identity also shows professionalism and attention to detail. These qualities make customers more likely to trust a brand. When a brand looks the same across all touchpoints, from websites to products and ads, it tells customers the brand is reliable and serious. This builds trust and makes customers more likely to pick this brand over others that may not look as professional or consistent.


What are the advantages of having a well-designed and user-friendly website for a business?

The business landscape has changed dramatically since the pandemic. Now, your digital footprint is definitely at the center of most business growth strategies. A well-designed website allows companies to connect with users in an effective manner, ensure customer loyalty, and expand business - among other benefits.

Website design is the key ingredient to digital success, alongside well-functioning SEO tools, connected backend, and user-friendly strategy. A user-friendly website for your business will:

  • Increase user engagement and conversion rates
  • Improve SEO and searchability of your business
  • Improve retention rates
  • Make your business more credible while making your brand more memorable
How does the design of a website impact its accessibility to users, including those with disabilities?

In website design, "accessibility" refers to whether a site is designed in a way that is inclusive and usable by everyone, regardless of their physical or cognitive abilities. 

This may include important site characteristics such as text-to-speech functionality, video captions, alternative text tags for images, enhanced with good design practices of intuitive navigation, straightforward copy. and others. Accessibility is integral to website performance and user experience.

How can businesses ensure consistency and credibility across their website, brand, and marketing materials?

To achieve consistency and credibility across all your collateral, you need to ensure that the brand message - both verbal and visual - is compliant with your brand guidelines. This can include:

  • Using the correct tone of voice principles across all communication channels to differentiate your brand personality

  • Communicating consistent messaging and key differentiators on all platforms

  • Ensuring that key visual elements (logo, color palette, typography, imagery) on your website, marketing, and sales materials are aligned with each other

What are some common pitfalls to avoid when designing and developing a business website?

According to a 2024 web statistics report, a staggering 75% of business credibility is attributed to various web design decisions. In order to improve your website’s trustworthiness, avoid the following common design mistakes:

  • Not prioritizing accessibility: One of the biggest design mistakes out there is overlooking web accessibility principles on your website.

  • Not investing in responsive design and customization: With the majority of global traffic coming from mobile and tablet devices, lack of responsive design and customization can break a business.
  • Prioritizing aesthetics over function: Compromising user experience in favor of flashy aesthetics will dilute your brand message and user journey to the required call to action.

  • Lacking clarity in messaging and navigation: Clear navigation and messaging will reduce the friction users may experience when landing on your site as they are trying to get a clear picture of what your business is.
How does website copywriting contribute to user engagement and conversion, and what role does SEO play in this?

The goal of web copywriting is to guide your users through their web journey while providing information, engaging with and converting them into buyers. Each section of your site shapes the visitor perception about your brand and affects their buying decisions. 

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a practice of creating engaging and persuasive content that not only appeals to your users, but also incorporates relevant keywords and techniques to attract organic traffic to your site.

To start writing SEO-friendly copy for your site, you can:

  • Manually conduct keyword research by checking what competitors are ranking for
  • Use SEO software like SEMRush to investigate new keyword opportunities
  • Make sure to review keywords frequently as their popularity changes often and you want to keep ranking for competitive terms.

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