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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About Andrew

Andrew has specialised in B2B research for over a decade and co-founded Circle Research in 2006. He is a columnist for B2B Marketing Magazine, a regular contributor to Research Live and frequent speaker at leading events such as the B2B Leaders Forum, Customer Experience Live and the Social Media World Forum. Andrew is a Chartered Member of the MRS, teaches the MRS B2B research course and holds an MA in Psychology from Aberdeen University alongside an MSc in Marketing from Strathclyde University.

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