Does branding even matter at B2B companies? Or is branding a waste of time and budget compared to “hard ROI” activities that can be proven to drive revenue?
My belief is that branding does matter to B2B marketers, and for one main reason: B2B buyers are still people, and people are emotional. And, as research increasingly indicates, emotions impact economic decision making. Now, B2C marketers can capitalize on the anticipation of positive emotion by appealing to aspirational feelings such as desire. But in B2B, there is an asymmetry between the upside and downside of B2B purchases: the buyer does not experience the full benefit of the solution directly and may or not be rewarded for making a good purchase, but a bad purchase can destroy the buyer’s reputation and damage job security. So, in B2B brands capitalize on the avoidance of negative emotions.
B2B brands can tap into this by building trust in the buyer’s mind. The classic example is “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”. Since being IBM is not an option for most companies (yet), the best way to build a brand of trust is to become a trusted advisor via thought leadership early in the buying cycle.
Read more of my thoughts on B2B branding on my Marketo post, B2B Branding – Why Branding Matters in B2B Marketing.