B2B Brand Management

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As products become increasingly similar, companies are turning to branding as a way to create a preference for their offerings. Branding has been the essential factor in the success of well-known consumer goods such as Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Kodak and Mercedes. In fact, these brands are worth many times more than the book value of the property used to make these brands.

Now it is time for more industrial companies to start using branding in a sophisticated way. Some industrial companies have led the way… Caterpillar, DuPont, Siemens, GE. But industrial companies must understand that branding goes far beyond building names for a set of offerings. Branding is about promising that the company’s offering will create and deliver a certain level of performance. The promise behind the brand becomes the motivating force for all the activities of the company and its partners. Thus, if Motorola promises six sigma quality, then everyone at Motorola is driven to create and deliver this level of performance.

Thus branding is the road that a company must travel to define what it wants to be excellent at and how its offerings differ from those of the competitors. Branding is the outward expression of the company’s earlier decisions on positioning its products and articulating its value propositions to buyers. When branding works, the sales people enter the offices of customers already well-known and respected who stand ready to give them a hearing.



Preface of B2B Brand Management

Brand building goes far beyond creating awareness of your name and your promise to customers. It is a voyage of building a corporate soul and infectiously communicating it inside and outside the company to all your partners, so that your customers truly get what your brand promises.

Along with globalization and hyper competition has come the explosion of choices in almost every area. Business-to-Consumer (B2C) companies have identified and applied branding and brand management decades ago to adapt to these changes. Many Business-to-Business (B2B) companies still regard such efforts as irrelevant for them. Recently though, B2B brand management has been given more and more attention by researchers as well as practitioners all over the world. Following up on this recent development, we offer the following central tenet:

Brand management for industrial goods and services represents a unique and effective opportunity for establishing enduring, competitive advantages.

Whether you are selling products or services, a strong brand is the most important and sustainable asset your company can have. Your brand strategy should always be the guiding principle behind every decision and every action. This book aims to put B2B brands and branding into their actual context. It describes current thinking and best practice, draws comparisons and highlights differences to B2C, and ventures thoughts about the future of B2B.

Branding is not only about creating fancy names and logos. To equate branding with such superficial cosmetic effort is like judging a book merely by its colorful cover. It is absolutely crucial to understand that there is more to brands than meets the eye. Just take one moment and try to imagine a world without brands. There would be no Porsche, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Volvo, Chrysler, and no Ford, just a variety of automobiles that are more or less alike. Which would you buy? Which company would you trust? Based on which attributes would you make your purchasing decision? Such a world would lack much more than just fancy brand names and logos – it would lack one of the most important factors that simplify our life in an increasingly complex environment: Orientation. Brands differentiate, reduce risk and complexity, and communicate the benefits and value a product or service can provide. This is just as true in B2B as it is in B2C!

New Challenges: B2B Brand Portfolio Management

Philip Kotler, Waldemar Pförtsch:

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Book of the month from Absatzwirtschaft

Being known or being one of many: the need for brand management for business-to-business (B2B) companies

Update

Teaching – Case Studies

New Case Studies in preparation:

GE Branding in China
Daimler Multi-Brand Management