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B2B brand value
Brands drive differentiation, credibility and margin.
And yet in B2B, brand strategy is often in short supply. Very few B2B businesses, when it matters, make it a priority.
All the innovation in marketing is bottom of the funnel—wizardry to manage, massage and predict the next lead; always on, real time, on the fly. Accountability matters and martech gives you something you can count.
But B2B marketing is more than the sale. What about:
• Getting on the consideration list
• Protecting profitable price points in the face of product parity
• Accelerating a prospect through a sales process
• Aligning a disparate array of decision makers around an important purchase decision
• Generating employee pride, motivation and conviction
In short, brand building is about value—finding it, growing it, selling it and defending it.
Below we explain the key things you need to focus on in order to build brand value in b2b:
Consumer brands often focus on the mass market, B2B brands are usually focused on smaller, more valuable segments. The purchase process is often longer, has more hurdles to clear, is usually more valuable and involves an array of stakeholders. In addition, the communications landscape requires much more work to make an impact. Put simply, the differences are as follows:
|B2B Brand building||B2C Brand Building|
|Audience||Discreet, narrowly defined, hard to reach individuals||Large swathes of category buyers|
|Product||Technical categories requiring expert knowledge||New innovations within existing categories|
|Loyalty||Function of switching costs—trust, reputation, ecosystems||Function of category buying habits|
|Communications model||Low reach, high involvement||Mass reach, low involvement|
As a result, B2B brands usually fall into the ‘rational persuasion’ marketing model. But B2B marketing is as emotional as it is rational. If anything, people are more emotional when it comes to commercial decisions. The B2B product or service needs to deliver on its technical or functional ability, but you also need to believe in it and, importantly, convince others. And this blend of the functional and the emotional is where true B2B brand building comes in.
To understand how to blend the emotive and the rational elements of your B2B brand, we’ve developed framework to ensure the role of the brand is brought into play in the B2B marketing mix. This framework has four core areas:
Brands play a different role depending on your B2B marketing challenge.
You can work out the impact on a brand and its role by understanding whether your product is a high or low value purchase, and whether the brand has high or low engagement with customers. For example, a low value and low engagement B2B brand needs to start with educating the audience about the category, elevating the brand’s standing within it. Conversely, high value and high engagement products or services need to deliver the functional factors in their core and also the ability to communicate much higher levels of authority, trust and reassurance, to bring the likely myriad of stakeholders on board.
The next stage is to understand how the purchase decisions are made. The classic model has a sales funnel with a linear process from top to bottom, with the martech aimed at conversion as quickly as possible in the process. But this can negatively impact on the brand’s core values, negate the need for loyalty and reduce net profitability, as the price erodes.
You need to map the tiers of influence to purchase, we do this using Connections Maps, reflecting the often-circuitous process to delivering a sale and the differing messages and channels the different stakeholders require.
One of the evergreen subjects of B2B marketing is the need to have a considered, aligned and future-proofed brand purpose. What does our brand stand for? What is the reason for our brand existing? This isn’t just a set of functional benefits the brand or purpose provides, but a set of intangible, emotive reasons why it has a place in the world and, importantly, your customers’ minds when they think of you. Having a well thought through brand purpose provides the guide to what your B2B communications are based on.
Returning to the central tension in B2B brand value, the tech stack has helped marketers the world over understand how a brand and its marketing activity are performing. What can be measured can be managed. The challenge to this occurs at the upper funnel level, when awareness and consideration are trickier to quantify. We employ a raft of measures for our B2B Clients—from local to global—to understand how the brand value is growing, through what means, and to what effect. All our measurement solutions are bespoke to Client, and can range from large scale insight studies, to trade journal partnerships, stakeholder programmes and so on.
B2B marketing is more than sales, and profit is about more than conversion. The innovations of the martech stack have been a key factor in how the B2B sectors measures impact, effectiveness and sales. As well as providing this, Bray Leino has a team of B2B experts across the whole marketing mix to help you understand how the other vital ingredient of brand value can be developed—defining its purpose, mapping tiers of influence, driving consideration and defining success.
For further details on our capabilities in this area, please contact Austen Donnellan, Business Development Director.
Head of Planning at Bray Leino, Edd Southerden has an impressive pedigree of game-changing Agencies and the hefty portfolio to boot—spanning complex B2B operations and major B2C brands’ global ad campaigns. Katherine Almond is our Head of Insight. With a background in media planning, Katherine moved to strategic planning after a decade in market research.