Emotion is Everything in Branding

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Is "Branding" really important in a B2B specially in a OEM space? Nagesh Manay, Strategy Planning, OpusCDM uses an example to make a point. nagesh-manay


Is "Branding" really important in a B2B specially in a OEM space? Nagesh Manay, Strategy Planning, OpusCDM uses an example to make a point. 


‘Stanley' is one of the largest OEM suppliers to the major automotive manufacturers, and is also a well known lifestyle brand in the country. One day the Stanley team were at Shivajinagar Market in Bangalore, at a place there where fake stickers like a BMW, a Mercedes or a Ferrari are sold to ‘wannabes'. To their surprise they also found a Stanley Genuine Leather sticker. Finding a fake sticker brings about mixed feeling, but to a brand manager it means that the brand stands for something really desirable in the minds of many. It means it has become something truly distinctive. A quick communication to a couple of decision-makers in automobile organizations helped things along, simply because this seemingly unrelated fact illustrated a quality differentiation in an industry which really hadn't evolved enough for them to be able to spot it. Today, whilst having diversified, the OEM side of the business is what keeps the brand buoyant. All of this has happened not only because of a great quality and a price point to suit, as there are competitors who are also importing Italian leather. Success in the B2B sphere happened also because the company invested into mainstream advertising from the beginning, even when budgets were tight. Today, through both OEM and retail success, Stanley is a reputed ‘international' brand.


Thereafter, he spoke about the 4 key elements, derived from practical experience, that B2B communication has. One part of the B2B brand is ‘fact'. Everybody says that exaggeration doesn't work because at the end of the day it is distilled down to a decision based purely on rationale. We tend to forget that no matter what, we need to stay relevant. Internal branding, within the organization and sales team, starting from the philosophy, is also essential. If one sales person is not saying the same thing about an organization, product or service as another, that's the first error. This exists in a lot of organizations. Also, a unique value proposition is required. In today's day and age where there are brands popping up everywhere, it is folly to say that you do not want to differentiate by branding or advertising or presentation or even on product. Differentiation is crucial.


The sales people are the face of the Brand.



The next important thing is ‘credibility'. This is certifications - quality, ratings, size, clientele and history / track record. There is a fair amount of information that many B2B buyers are not aware of, that, by simply conveying, can make effective impact on the mind of the decision-maker or influencer. The third is ‘flexibility'. The experience with the sales person, the experience that the customer has at various touch points, has to be looked into. The human side of the sales process - quick decision-making, responsiveness and involvement on a one-to-one. Confidence is a key element in the B2B brand essence. Then there's ‘familiarity'. Perception is created by everything one does. The sales people are the face of the brand, they are the ones who are going to change or are supposed to change the minds of the people they are meeting. The ideal situation is to have a total brand experience. In 99% of cases there is a disconnect. Recall is another factor which is what most branding is connected to. Intel and Boeing are great brands but they are not selling to consumers. But we do have a certain idea of who/what they are. When we say ‘aircraft' or ‘chips' there are certain names that pop up. Even at the B2B level, would anyone buy anything from an organization which is tainted - be it scandal or anything else? That is why clients need to be serious about investing in the Brand today to take it to the next step tomorrow.


A study on brand recall versus brand usage found a disparity of about 30-40%. Whatever brand was being used wasn't the same as the one recalled. Eg. while talking about chips, Intel popped up and not AMD. But AMD was being bought because it was cheaper. Today the disparity is down to about 15-20%.


A key thing to remember is that, on the client's side there are people; people who are also fallible to great messaging, to a reputation. At the end of the day it is about persuasion and branding is a part of that. Buyers also need to create brands to get the best quality at the best price, and often this is also not done.


All B2B transactions are really about relationships, between people and between businesses. Don't think of it as ‘branding', think of it as building a ‘reputation'. It is not so much about Business to Business but Brand to Brand.


Nagesh Manay spoke at ‘The Essence of B2B Branding' event organized by Businessgyan and Tasmac.


Vaishnavi Vittal is a consulting correspondent for Businessgyan.

Issue BG76 July07