The good old definition of a brand which we all know is that a brand is a name, a sign, a symbol or a logo that identifies the good and service of one seller and differentiates them from others. When someone asks us to define branding in a small sentence, it is the process of communicating product and service characteristics to potential customers. This communication happens through all the stages of the decision-making process.
We all have seen big brands like Apple, Coca-Cola, Nike etc. branding themselves effectively and hence branding is known to be traditionally crucial in B2C domain. The understanding of branding in B2B domain and its advantages is relatively unknown. Branding places a company or product in the consideration set when floating a bid and subsequently allows it to demand a premium price. Also, once a brand is built, it can help the company build upon it and enter other product categories. Various attributes that influence decision making in B2B context are the corporate brand, product brand, buying centre, value proposition etc. Compared to B2C, B2B buying happens in the form of tenders. Hence the size of purchase, complexity of purchase and purchasing procedure if it is open or closed bidding etc. are studied.
What is corporate branding and why is it important?
The antecedent to Industrial brand equity is a combination of both product attributes and the corporate brand equity. Corporate brand equity is a result of satisfaction with the service which is, in turn, a result of the interactions that the buyer as with the people in the organisation. The corporate brand focuses on the organisation rather than a product. Also, it targets multiple stakeholders’ opposite to product brand which targets individual customers. It includes features such as business models, geographical location, demographics, finance and other capabilities, service experience etc. can play a crucial role and sometimes provide a competitive advantage in meeting customer requirements.
What is Buying centre?
Buying centre, also known as ‘Decision-making units’ brings together all stakeholders involved in buying a product or service. Unlike B2C in which we study of few categories like the buyer, the influencer and end-user, in B2B branding the various key stakeholders can be classified as Initiator, User, Influencer, Decider and Gatekeeper. The decision making also depends on the relationships offered by the supplier and existing relationships between supplier and buyer. Once the relationship becomes active, then the buyer will not hesitate to give the order directly seller based on the relationship without going through a conventional tendering process. Hence, the relationship forms a self-sustaining cycle where B2B transactions lead to relationship and relationship lead to more and more such transactions.
B2B branding, unlike B2C branding, can be highly client and context specific. The desired value proposition changes across clients and even with the same client over time depending on the client maturity and familiarity with the product and transaction type. B2B branding is thus much more dynamic than B2C branding. To add to the complexity, the relative importance of the product brand and corporate brand change over the lifecycle of the product. Thus, B2B branding is multifaceted. Organisations, however, can derive significant benefits from B2B branding. Companies like Siemens, Bosh, IBM, Cisco etc. are examples of B2B branding that have allowed companies to differentiate their products and services allowing them to achieve competitive advantage in their respective sectors. Thus, though branding in B2B space could be resource intensive and complex, the benefits make it a worthy possibility for companies to explore.
About the Author:
Deepika Mallyk is currently doing her MBA from IIM Bangalore. At IIMB, her major interests lie in Marketing and Strategy. Prior to this, she graduated from IIT Kharagpur. She is a passionate dancer. Besides this, she loves oil painting and likes to take a shot at writing in her free time.