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Branding is bullshit

By Andrew Dalglish -

“Branding is marketing bullshit. Only FMCG firms who need to build aspirations and desire worry about stuff like that. B2B is different. The relationship is with me – the sales guy – not the corporate brand. Even if it wasn’t, buyers are rational and put emotions to one side.

And anyway our brand is just fine, the logo is great.”

Sound familiar?

As a marketer you no doubt recognise the value of a strong brand.  77% of the 100 B2B marketing leaders we recently surveyed for the B2B Leaders Forum went so far as to describe branding as critical to their company’s future growth.

So you might be convinced, but how do you persuade others who see branding as ‘marketing bullshit’?

First explain that, like it or lump it, they have a brand. Your brand is your reputation – the thoughts and feelings triggered in a customer or prospect’s mind when they think of you. And because a brand is a perception held about you, you have no choice about whether that perception exists.  Your only choice is whether or not you actively manage that perception.

And let’s ditch the term ‘branding’.  It’s too loaded and instantly raises barriers to acceptance.  Instead, let’s call it ‘reputation’ instead because that’s a term everyone can relate to.

Then outline the benefits of having a great reputation (not brand, remember):

  • It makes you a must-have on short-lists
  • It makes you the safe choice in riskier buying situations
  • It simplifies the decision for buyers, making you the easy choice
  • It is a point of differentiation, especially in commodity markets
  • It builds preference and loyalty
  • It allows you to charge a premium

Dwell on that last point to convert any remaining non-believers.  A strong reputation has financial benefits.  For example, Interbrand (Inter-reputation?) estimates that IBM’s brand is worth $78,808 million.

Go forth and spread the word!

Read more about our approach to business-to-business (B2B) branding research.

Read our interview with Salesforce’s marketing team on how they built a strong brand here.

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