Home / News / No consumers, no confetti? Why branding matters in Clean Tech. And why it’s time to focus on the process, not the product.

No consumers, no confetti? Why branding matters in Clean Tech. And why it’s time to focus on the process, not the product.

Vancouver, Canada

There’s branding. And there’s industry communications. B2B, mostly. Which isn’t your usual hunting ground if you are into building brands. No consumers, no confetti. Right? So, Marketing wizards turn up their nose when asked to work for an industry player – who, truth be told, hardly come knocking at their door anyway. No exciting campaign to be expected here. No Cannes trophy needed.

But if you know a little about branding you know it’s not about entertainment, it’s about building trust. Branding makes a promise. And Strategy allows you to keep that promise. (There, I just snuck it in: Strategy really is the sharpest weapon in your arsenal – but that’s another post.) The point of good branding is to define why what you do matters, why it is relevant. Now, clean tech is truly relevant. We need to bring down our environmental footprint. And the real impact doesn’t lie with the final step of, say, assembling that car – but with everything that went into it. Somehow, though, this sounds right – but it doesn’t quite resonate. There’s no emotional link to batteries, let alone raw materials. There are no brands here, that might make a promise we care about.

And who’s we? The people that hide behind that abstract idea of stakeholders: the people at the company you want to sell to, those in the city hall offices you need by your side, the partners you wish would collaborate, the people, crucially, you want to employ. Summing up about 12 years of experience in hiring some outstanding talent for companies and ventures of various sizes: nothing, not a single incentive, can outweigh personal relevance. The sense of significance, of contributing to a relevant goal and giving direction and meaning to one’s own life story. For a B2B company to get that right, it needs to connect to a broader societal goal, and speak to us, your stakeholders: putting in the effort to break down the industry talk into plain sentences, making the processes transparent, connecting the dots. Instilling trust.

Interestingly, trust works in two ways: it is both defense and offense. Major brands have left customers feeling disappointed, if not betrayed by their lack of commitment to sustainability. And, referencing a talk by @usv, trust gaps create “startup-sized holes”.

Many amazing start-ups are redefining how we source and produce raw materials, how we run and power our factories, and how we account for every step of that value chain. It’s time to focus on the process rather than on the consumer good. And for branding to help the next generation of industry players to speak up and to relay their promise: of paving our way to carbon neutrality. I, for one, can see few Marketing challenges more exciting in our times.