B2B Brand Management

Philip Kotler & Waldemar Pfoertsch

Notes: Yang belum punya bukunya bisa pinjam ke saya.


Branding is just as relevant in B2B as it is in B2C. Brands like Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Dell, SAP, Siemens, FedEx, Boeing are vivid examples of the fact that some of the world’s strongest brands do exist in B2B. Branding is not about stirring people into irrational buying decisions – it is rather an effective and compelling means to communicate the benefits and value a product or service can provide. Branding is about taking something common and improving upon it in ways that make it more valuable and meaningful. Trusted brands act as touchstones, offering orientation the flood of information, and many other benefits and advantages to buyers. A brand is much more than a product , a brand name, a logo, a symbol, a slogan, an ad, a jingle, a spokesperson; these are just tangible components of a brand – not the brand itself! “Brand” comprises various aspects.

“Branding is about taking something common and improving upon it in ways that make it more valuable and meaningful.”

Brands serve exactly the same general purpose in B2B markets as they do in consumer markets: They facilitate the identification of products, services and businesses as well as differentiate them from the competition. They are an effective and compelling means to communicate the benefits and value a product or service can provide. They are a guarantee of quality, origin, and performance, thereby increasing the perceived value to the customer and reducing the risk and complexity involved in the buying decision.

A brand is emotional, has a personality, and captures the hearts and minds of its customers. Great brands survive attacks from competitors and market trends because of the strong connections they forge with customers.

Biggest misconception that branding is only for consumer products and therefore wasted in B2B, there are other common misunderstandings and misconceptions related to B2B branding and branding in general.
One frequently mentioned branding myth is the assumption that “brand” is simply a name and a logo. Wrong! Branding is much more than just putting a brand name and a logo on a product or service.

A brand is a promise.

A brand is the totality of perceptions – everything you see, hear, read, know, feel, think, etc. – about a product, service, or business.

A brand holds a distinctive position in customer’s minds based on past experiences, associations and future expectations.

A brand is a short-cut of attributes, benefits, beliefs and values that differentiate, reduce complexity, and simplify the decision-making process.

A further misconception of branding is that it is seen as a small subset of marketing management. Wrong again! Since a brand is reflected in everything the company does, a holistic branding approach requires a strategic perspective. This simply means that branding should always start at the top of your business. If your branding efforts are to be successful, it is not enough to assign a brand manager with a typically short-term job horizon within company.

Building, championing, supporting and protecting strong brands is everyone’s job, starting with the CEO. Active participation of leaders is indispensable because they are the ones who ultimately Being Known or Being One of Many will be driving the branding effort. Brands and brand equity need to be recognized as the strategic assets they really are, the basis of competitive advantage and long-term profitability. It is crucial to align brand and business strategy, something that can only effectively be done if the brand is monitored and championed closely by the top management of an organization. To appoint a Vice President of Branding, someone who is responsible solely for brand management would be an important step. No matter what the actual title, this person should be the one person taking the required actions for keeping the brand in line.

Strong leaders demonstrate their foresight for the brand, make symbolic leadership gestures and are prepared to involve their business in acts of world statesmanship that go beyond the short-run, and therefore require the sort of total organizational commitment which only the CEO can lead. Consider Nucor, America’s largest steel producer today. In 1972, about 5 years after facing bankruptcy, F. Kenneth Iverson as President and Samuel Siegel, Vice President of Finance, renamed their company and announced “Nucor sells steel to people who actually care about the quality of the steel”. This announcement and all steps that followed propelled the company to the top of its industry.