Is branding important for B2B businesses?
Historically, branding used to be seen as less relevant and less important for B2B businesses. The views of those who believed that included:
- that B2B buyers are rational decision makers unswayed by emotional factors such as brands
- that B2B purchases centre around the relationship between individual sales reps and buyers; the sales reps "are" the brand
- that price is the only thing that matters in B2B
- that B2B products are too complex to be reduced to a tagline
- that B2B companies sell to very narrow audiences, making advertising irrelevant.
It's now largely understood that branding does matter for B2B businesses - it is every bit as important as for B2C products and services.
B2B buyers are people, and people are emotional. People largely make decisions relying on their first impressions of stored memories, images and feelings. These emotions impact economic decision making. In one sense, brands inherently operate on an emotional level by stimulating that part of the brain that stores emotional reactions. By nurturing the right brand associations in your prospects' minds, you can begin closing the deal before the selling has even started. Trust can be achieved by being the dominant player in your market, or by achieving thought leadership early in the buying cycle.
The benefits of a strong B2B brand
B2B businesses can benefit greatly from a strong brand. A strong B2B brand:
- ensures your brand stands out and cuts-through in its category - it gives customers a reason to choose your brand over competitors
- creates customers with a predisposition towards your brand, and an increased willingness to try it
- shortens the sales cycle
- enables your brand to charge and sustain a price premium
- enables your brand to build trust with its key stakeholders - customers, employees, shareholders, distributors, partners, intermediaries etc.
- it creates loyal customers, advocates, and even evangelists, out of those who buy
- lowers sensitivity to price increases
- attracts and retains the best employee talent.
The financial pay-off
Because brand-influenced emotional reactions impact buyer decision making, those companies with strong brands usually achieve better financial performance. In fact, McKinsey states that their analysis shows that B2B companies with strong brands outperform weak ones by 20 percent.
How we can help you in creating a strong B2B brand
The team at BrandMatters are deep specialists in researching, creating, refining and strengthening B2B brands. We're proud to have partnered with over 90 B2B clients since our inception, with most of them working with us on several projects over many years. Our experience covers financial services (we have worked with over 60 financial services organisations), professional services, legal, accounting, infrastructure, IT, telco, transport, logistics, utilities, healthcare and manufacturing.
As with any brand project, understanding your customers is an important first step in developing a new, or refining an existing, B2B brand. There are some key differences between B2B and B2C brand research. We are experts in designing and executing brand research for B2B businesses, having conducted many repeat and ad-hoc B2B qualitative and quantitative research studies. We have surveyed over 1100 business owners and decision-makers and conducted over 500 face-to-face interviews. Visit our brand research page for more information on B2B brand research.