Importance Of Differentiated Brand Positioning And Strategy
Unfortunately, many B2B Brands still consider branding as consumer-facing communication to be done by B2C companies. And then there are B2B Brands that operate with a narrow vision of B2B Brand Strategy and Marketing as they pursue their B2B Branding with logos and taglines which is merely a tip of the iceberg.
Trends come and go, brand identity is about projecting a picture which will remain recognizable, credible, and sustainable over extended periods of time.
Strategic Creativity for Brand is used by best-practice companies to build their brands around attributes that set them aside from their competitors. One of the brand positioning examples is IBM, and it says “Smarter Planet” as a singular, defendable concept in their brand communication.
To reflect the complex role, we propose a holistic view of brand positioning or brand repositioning that involves managing a corporation’s reputation and therefore the perception of its products and services across multiple stakeholders and all touchpoints.
Relevant touchpoints, for instance, may include anything from sales department interactions & sponsorships to social media engagement & merchandise usage.
Truly successful brands appeal to several different types of stakeholders. Brand positioning process must include the essence of value propositions made to a large and varied group of stakeholders and Brand positioning strategy must reflect that in a unifying way.
Brands Drive Sales
Many product managers purport that brand positioning in marketing is all about showcasing superior products and services, offered at competitive prices. Sales executives insist that availability and repair will make or break a deal. In their minds, branding is simply the icing on the cake.
Decision-makers consider the brand as a central thought instead of a marginal element of a supplier’s proposition. For them, it is all about brand positioning.
Brands Drive Profit
There is a direct and significant correlation between brand strength and financial performance. Companies with brands that are perceived as strong, generate a better EBIT margin than others.
Decision-makers are always willing to pay a premium for strong brands because they make their lives easier, primarily by aggregating information and reducing risk. Strong supplier brands may even aid companies in building their own reputation by associating with them.
This is why identifying and establishing brand positioning that is differentiated is extremely important and beneficial.
Brands Drive Differentiation That Drives Consumer Behavior
Importance of brand positioning can also be understood from the point of view of Purchasing officers, who say that brands matter, and therefore the financial performance of strong brands confirms their importance as an influencing factor.
But to what extent do companies leverage branding and positioning for competitive differentiation?
It’s not that corporate reputation managers don’t try. They are sending many brand-related messages, emphasizing topics like corporate social responsibility, sustainability, or global reach.
But these are not necessarily the issues decision-makers are most concerned about. Fact-based business branding doesn’t really provide a singular opportunity to shut this gap between suppliers’ messages and decision-makers’ needs.
Our research shows that B2B buyers often pick suppliers based on: perceived honesty and specialized expertise.
Early movers can expect to reap disproportionate rewards by differentiating their propositions accordingly. Hence, it is important to figure out types of brand positioning options available and then create a unique brand positioning statement.
Getting Brand Strategy and Marketing right isn’t easy at all as it involves Strategic Creativity for Brand building.
What B2B Companies Talk About
- Corporate social responsibility
- Global reach
- Facts about themselves
What Customers Care About
- Honest and open dialog
- Responsibility across the supply chain
- High level of specialized expertise
- Fits my values and beliefs
- Is a leader in its field
More than anything, B2B brands are focal points of communication and interaction with multiple stakeholders. Yet a brand’s positioning cannot and will not be all things to everyone.
Corporate credibility is at stake if a given brand tries to be one thing to customers and a completely different thing to investors.
We find that successful companies articulate their central value proposition clearly and consistently – across touchpoints, to all or any stakeholders, and over extended periods of your time.
Brands Connect & Interact At Multiple Places
Sales rep interactions remain the foremost important touchpoint, especially for patrons considering switching suppliers. Selecting a replacement supplier, however, remains a deeply personal matter for decision-makers in many industries.
Additionally, we see a variety of other personal touch points gaining importance, especially as customers meet up with their purchase decision; examples include recommendations from peers and past experience with products and services.
This is why leading players engage in dedicated narrow-cast communication, often leveraging social media to get momentum among target groups with limited exposure to traditional media. Examples include the tiny Business Saturday initiative from American Express, an event amid a large-scale customer engagement program on Facebook and Twitter.
One-way communication could also be excellent thanks to getting customers’ attention.
Brand Strategy & Marketing At IBM
Ever since its incorporation quite a century ago, IBM has had to deal with rapidly evolving customer needs. The company’s continued success as a provider of data technology and services rests on its ability to adapt its value proposition without putting its brand on the road.
Smarter Planet reflects the brand positioning of the brand IBM within the post-PC era. Smarter Planet now epitomizes the way IBM operates during a data-driven world. Smarter Planet guides development, employee engagement, and ever external communication – from specific stakeholder engagement programs to global marketing campaigns.
Under this roof, IBM has developed dozens of platforms, including Smarter Education, Smarter Energy, and Smarter Cities. In a nutshell, Smarter Planet demonstrates the company’s unique ability to balance innovation with sustainability. Today, IBM is widely regarded as one of the world’s most valuable brands, on par with the likes of Coca-Cola and Apple. That is the power of right branding & marketing and use of strategic creativity for brand building & business growth.
Brand Consistency At DHL
In its current form, DHL is the result of a series of strategic acquisitions made by Deutsche Post to expand its footprint from national mail to global logistics. In a historic effort to fortify the new brand and ensure global consistency, DHL touched all bases of rebranding – from tangible assets to the minds and hearts of employees. They started, quite literally, by painting the corporate yellow. More than a hundred planes, tens of thousands of trucks, and countless uniforms were repainted or replaced to boost the brand’s visibility.
In a second step, DHL initiated an indoor activation program, using various training formats and a brand book to assist employees to become brand ambassadors. The program opened the eyes of the workforce to the fact that every customer interaction plays a part in the perception of the brand as a whole. Additionally, a system of common standards for external communication was put in situ. Today, all campaigns and materials are governed by a group of binding rules regarding corporate identity and company design. As a result, the corporate has been ready to grow its brand value substantially. A multi-billion dollar asset, DHL is now one among the world’s top business brands – as befits a number one global logistics provider.
Brand Delivery As A Way Of Strategic Creativity For The Brand American Express
Established in 1850, American Express has been the foremost valuable card brand for a variety of years now. In an attempt to grow its business with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the corporate recently began to make a win-win partnership with these customers. By helping independent retailers attract more shoppers, Amex would enjoy the rise in transaction volume. To make it happen, the corporation initiated the Open Forum, a virtual platform for little business owners to attach with Amex and each other. Open Forum works as a catalyst that helps small businesses become more successful. The platform features various educational resources and tools. As a result, a growing community of SMEs has come to understand Amex not even as a card company, but as an advisor.
The culmination of this effort is little Business Saturday, an annual event held the weekend after Thanksgiving to assist small businesses to claim their share of the US holiday rush. The Small Business Saturday Facebook page attracted more than one million followers in less than three weeks, now totaling at well over three million. Even President Obama tweeted about the event repeatedly, encouraging fellow Americans to “shop small.”
Five Self Checkpoint Questions Before Building A Strong Brand Strategy And Marketing Plan:
Take stock of corporate strategy
- What does our brand stand for?
- How do we aspire to set our company apart from its competitors?
- How can the brand help deliver our business strategy?
Map primary stakeholders
- Who are the first target groups and stakeholders of our brand?
- What drives their perceptions and decisions?
- How do they perceive our brand (or brands)?
Determine brand proposition and brand architecture
- Which strengths can we build on to differentiate our brand?
- How can we integrate the needs of different stakeholders, including talent?
- Which roles should we assign to corporate, divisional, and merchandise brands?
Clarify the degrees of freedom
- How does the central brand positioning play at the divisions and business units level?
- Which degrees of freedom apply at different levels of the organization?
- Which mechanisms do we need to ensure a consistent brand experience?
Lay down the ground rules for activation
- Which touchpoints are suited to activate our (new) brand positioning?
- How can we use specific touchpoints to activate different stakeholders?
- Can we leverage digital media to make scale effects, especially for SMEs?
Different companies can come to different conclusions while following these checkpoints.
However, we believe that any given brand (or portfolio of brands) can and will encapsulate everything a corporation wants to represent for its stakeholders.
Our survey has substantiated that a robust brand is among the foremost important reasons customers choose it over another. And it is a shame to let an opportunity for differentiation go to waste by not incorporating it into brand strategy and marketing through strategic creativity for brand building and business growth.
Also Read – All About Brand Extension