Philip Kotler once described brands as helping people to make decisions. In a world of frenzied competition and bewildering choice, they are of course the fastest, simplest and most effective way to link a name to a perception of value. What can easily be overlooked however is that B2B and B2C brands are not just about very different types of decisions but that they also involve very different types of decision making.
For the most part, consumer brands look to influence an individual and/or groups of individuals (tribes). They are at their most powerful ‘in the moment’. They are about excitement through identification, and they are often strongly influenced by culture, taste, fashion and what’s important to people as people.
B2B brands have different drivers – and the most important of these, I believe, is that no-one buys a B2B brand alone. Normally, there are multiple decision-makers involved, each with their own specific areas of responsibility and priority. There’s normally an elongated decision process (sometimes highly regimented) where final approval for go-ahead must pass set stages alongside the many other agendas and priorities that companies juggle every day. As a result, the decision to use a B2B brand is often strongly influenced by track record, responsiveness, knowledge and of course reputation.
The temptation is to believe that B2B brands lack emotion because they are subject to highly logical decisions. That’s not the case – B2B is purchased emotionally as well as logically – but the emotions for buying B2B are very different from those of consumer brands. For the most part, B2B brands need to focus on risk alleviation. That means that in contrast to the excitement that consumer brands are looking to generate, B2B brands need to focus on generating emotions centered on reassurance – professionally, technically, financially, legally and of course personally (for those championing use of the brand itself).
People buy brands, not managers. And yet think about the number of managers who make judgment calls, sometimes very big judgment calls, based on their own opinions and experiences? They feel comfortable because they are expressing views and making decisions that fit with their worldview. But that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily doing the brand justice, particularly if their viewpoints compromise the personality of the brand itself.
Hands up if you’ve ever been to this meeting:
“I like orange.”
Or “Don’t make it orange.”
“Use short words.”
Or “People don’t read.”
“We need to be on TV.”
And/or “We need to export.”
Brands thrive when they are based on meaning, trust, relevance and delight – but of course they must deliver that meaning, trust, relevance and delight to the buyer, not the seller. Otherwise they risk narcissism.
Every brand must pursue a life of its own – not affirm the life of a manager. And to me, that integral sense of being an asset in its own right hangs on ten things. A brand must have:
The problem with Brand Value is really simple: no one agrees on it.
The GE brand, for example, in 2011, was variously estimated to be worth $30.5B, $42.8B, and $50.3B by different brand valuation services. That’s a difference of about $20B between the high and low estimates. It gets worse. One firm estimated that GE’s brand value was rising, while the other two calculated a declining brand value.
These are not small numbers. In fact, they’re large enough to qualify as annual GDP numbers for many small countries — like Uganda. And GE isn’t the only example of the problem with Brand Value.
In a recent article on the issue of Brand Value, The Economist noted: “…arguments rage about how much brands are worth and why. Firms that value them come to starkly different conclusions.”
It’s obvious that brand valuation has a “starkly” real issue. None of the firms estimating brand value agree on the same value for a given brand. And if none of them agree on the value of brands, how can CMO’s and CFO’s begin to understand the brand value they’re creating with their Marketing spending?
Take a look at the diagram below courtesy of Ryan Jones (thanks for the point Marc Abraham). It shows how Apple spans its offerings over a surprisingly wide range of price points.
By introducing new lines, retaining older lines at degraded prices and through the use of provider subsidies, Apple delivers an impressive range of ‘step-in’ opportunities for customers to join its ecosystem.
October 30th, 2014
By Chris Wren
What can Big Data do for a brand? It depends on how it’s used.
TESCO, more than any other large-scale, global retail brand, had committed to customer research, analytics, and loyalty as its marketing and operational edge. When it comes to behavioral data and loyalty programs, TESCO was the standard-bearer, the bar-setter, and it set the bar very high. With all of this phenomenal data, why then is Britain’s largest retailer in trouble?
In a recent HBR op-ed, Michael Schrage, a research fellow at MIT Sloan School’s Center for Digital Business opines, “Tesco’s decline presents a clear and unambiguous warning that even rich and data-rich loyalty programs and analytics capabilities can’t stave off the competitive advantage of slightly lower prices and a simpler shopping experience…Despite its depth of data and experience, today’s Tesco simply lacks the innovation and insight chops to craft promotions, campaigns, and offers that allow it to even preserve share, let alone grow it.”
Big Data is just more data, hopefully better data. Insights are just more data too. It’s the distinction between insight and actionable insight that transform data into a dynamic component in brand storytelling. What can data do? To answer that, we start with the end in mind: What do we want data to do?
Knowing what role we want data to play will tell us what data we need, where the data will come from, and how long it will take to glean insights from the interactions that we measure.
Gavin Heaton offers this insight into retail disruption: