Can B2B Brands Be Inspiring?

Did you know that there are more B2B companies than there are B2C companies? That’s because, for every B2C company, there are a slew of business needs that need to be filled.

That includes everything from software to electricity to toilet paper. But beyond being businesses who sell goods and services to other companies, can B2B companies be anything but solutions to problems?

While I researched this post, I investigated brands that other B2B brands had deemed inspiring. This post explores those brands, which asks if these brands are inspiring or merely informing.

The first question we must answer is, what does it mean to inspire? Here are some answers collected from around the web:

  • Inspiration is directly related to how much emotion it evokes in the person experiencing it
  • Watching ordinary people do extraordinary things
  • Something that causes the feeling of awe
  • The sensation caused when people help others

What does it mean to inform? It means to provide information that’s relevant or useful to a situation or issue.

GE Healthcare Website

GE runs a website that is jam-packed with healthcare information for providers. The front page is product-packed, which I think is an interesting choice.

GE has an expansive resource center, which admirably covers all parts of its customer lifecycle. In the navigation bar, Products & Services appears immediately to the left for those considering GE’s offerings. This seems more exploratory than the following tab, which reads: Shop.  Then there is Shop, which is presumably for buyers that know what they want. Both of these tabs open to extensive options, separated by need and offering.

Resources seems like it would have more content marketing type content, but in reality, it leads to more services and offerings. I guess if you have as extensive a product catalog, a lot of your value is from the products you offer.

The Insights page is where things start to get interesting. That’s where all the content is hiding. Interestingly, all of this great content is behind Insights and not something more obvious like “Blog” or even “Resources.”

But the content here is excellent, and the web page is designed to make it easy to filter. That means audiences can serve themselves the content based on their wants and needs.

So, is it inspiring or merely informative? While GE Healthcare’s website is very well thought out, I still wouldn’t call it inspirational. It is very informative and covers a lot of today’s most pressing healthcare issues, but it doesn’t inspire. It helps healthcare professionals stay on top of current technologies and trends in their specialties, though, which means it provides value regardless.

Capital One’s Twitter

Another common name on many of the lists of “Inspiring B2B brands” is Capital One. It is well known for it’s Twitter page.


That’s because it appears Capital One has invested itself heavily into experiences that evoke emotions. That is, arenas where concerts and sporting events are held. The company also ties its credit card offerings to things that inspire, like travel. All three of these experiences induce awe.

Now Capital One is a little different than some of the other B2B businesses on this list because it technically both a B2B company and a B2C company. That’s not uncommon, and in this case, the use of almost complete B2C marketing tactics (like in-person experiences) works for both the B2B and B2C viewers.

This works because no matter if they’re using a card for personal use or business, the people using them are humans, so appealing to emotions and awe works.
Capital One inspires. I think having to operate in both the consumer and business markets gives the brand a tactical advantage for creating inspiration.

Vidyard’s Video Inspiration Hub

Video is what’s happening online today. It’s what social algorithms want and what makes everyone buzz.

Vidyard is thriving in the video renaissance, as its business is making inspiring business videos. Vidyard pops up on several lists of inspiring B2B content and for good reason. The company dedicates an entire section of its website to its Video Inspiration Hub.

No matter what kind of video you’re looking to make, there’s a video in this gallery to inform or inspire you.

I’d say there’s an even blend of both, which is ideal. As a B2B company, you want to promote some emotion and awe, while appealing to confirmation bias.

Upwork’s “Hey World” Campaign

Is Upwork inspiring? Many lists suggest that their “Hey World” campaign is.

Unlike many B2B brands, Upwork focuses on humor. Humor can be inspiring, following the definitions we outlined at the beginning of the post. It evokes emotions from those experiencing the content, so therefore it can be inspiring.

Most B2B brands use humor sparingly or not at all.

Upwork went against the status quo with its “Hey World” campaign and called out major brands to hire freelancers. The videos are mildly absurd, which makes them funny. This call-out is to Amazon.

What do you think? Is this funny enough to be called inspiring? The call-out videos are a cute way to make short content that have a touch of humor. Because while it’s unlikely that The Rock, Amazon, or NASA will be hiring freelancers from Upwork, it highlights that there are freelancers for just about every organization out there.

I think Upwork’s campaign is just touching on the edge of inspiring. The videos the company produces are cute, but they are evoking any strong emotions beyond maybe a smirk. You also don’t feel compelling to watch more than a couple of videos.

For B2B brands to truly inspire and not just inform, marketers need to remember that they are creating content for people. Companies need to tell stories, sponsor experiences, and create tools that make the impossible seem possible in order to be inspiring. The best contenders on this list are companies that go beyond making content and truly endeavor to connect with their audiences on a deeper level.


 

Let us know what you think:

  • What makes B2B content inspiring?
  • How does B2B marketing achieve inspiration?
  • What is the most inspiring piece of B2B content you’ve seen/made?

 

 


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