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Lessons from the 2017 Business Superbrands

By David Willan -

Interesting results from TCBA/Superbrands in their latest ranking of the UK’s top 20 Business Superbrands. Congrats to British Airways for winning top spot for the third year running!

The rankings illustrate a few important lessons about B2B branding in the modern day.

Firstly, there are remarkable consistencies year-on-year in terms of the top 20 Business Superbrands; once a brand achieves top 20 status it tends to stay there unless the brand experiences a particular problem.  Rolls Royce is a recent case in point.

Secondly, none of the top ten and only three out of the top 20 (JCB, Boeing and London Stock Exchange Group) are what I’d call pure B2B brands.  Most are ones which we experience as part of our daily lives – when we travel, when we log in to our computer or when we make a payment.  So one’s personal experience clearly plays a massive role in shaping brand perceptions.

Thirdly and closely associated with this last point, gone are the days when B2B brands were judged primarily on the basis of their functional qualities (such as product quality, availability or suitability) or when decision making was seen as logical, rational and hierarchical.  Nowadays emotion is becoming a dominant driver.  In a world of non-differentiated products and services there’s a clear opportunity for B2B brands to focus on how the buyer or user feels about the experience, rather than what the product or service actually does.  Successful B2B brands are characterised by their ability to deliver positive emotions whilst avoiding negatives such as apathy, fear, anxiety and apprehension and confusion.  By contrast, strong brands are those which are underpinned by powerful positive emotions – especially trust and mental comfort (e.g. familiarity and previous experience); affinity (i.e. empathy); excitement (e.g. painting an exciting vision of the future) and ego expression (such as a brand that enables self-expression).

See the full list of Business Superbrands.

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