Based on our extensive experience and the self-funded research undertaken by our CircleLabs™ team, we’ve developed an exclusive model which explains the dynamics of branding in B2B markets. This model guides (but never constrains) our approach and is based on four fundamental observations:
1. You don’t own your brand. That’s because it lives in a customer’s mind – it’s the sum of all their perceptions about you. Furthermore, these brand perceptions are both conscious and sub-conscious, with even the former being hard to articulate accurately. This means that to effectively develop and manage a brand you need to a) get inside the mind of your target market and b) use smart techniques to uncover their true perceptions
2. Brand perceptions are formed in three ways. Most powerful is interaction (every experience a customer has with your brand and its representatives) as this reveals the true face of the brand.
Brand perceptions are also influenced through communications (everything seen or heard directly from your brand) and reputation (everything seen or heard about your brand). Mis-alignment between these three sources can breed dis-trust and lead to confused brand perceptions. This means that in identifying the optimum brand positioning you need to ensure that it can be lived day-to-day by your organisation
3. Each member of your target market has a space in their mind dedicated to your product or service category. Your brand (and competitor brands) lives in this space and has a mental signature which represents what it means to the individual.
There are five core elements to the brand signature in B2B markets and these tend to be tied to decision making and more rational than in consumer markets. They are:
- Distinctiveness – extent to which the brand comes to mind and stands out
- Activities – beliefs about what the brand can offer
- Fame – the one thing, if anything, the brand is best known for
- Performance – brand’s strength in areas which drive buying decisions
- Sentiment – liking of and attachment to the brand
This means that you need to understand your brand’s unique signature, how it relates to competitor brands and what the ideal signature looks like – one which is compelling, differentiated and credible
4. When buying decisions are being made, the signature of each brand determines whether it comes to mind and the thoughts and feelings triggered about it. In turn, these perceptions influence judgments and buying decisions. This means that in identifying the ideal brand positioning you need to ensure that it will translate into commercial success – higher levels of consideration, preference and advocacy