Looking across consumer markets, it is obvious that companies spend substantial time and resource carefully organizing their brands into a compelling and easy-to-understand hierarchy (well, at least they try). And, within that hierarchy, market leaders are obsessive about ensuring that they first define a brand personality and then consistently and clearly communicate that personality across every consumer touchpoint for a given brand. In contrast, though most B2B companies would claim they care about their brands, few dedicate the same level of resource or focus to branding.
By being customer and market-centric in the decision process for a new product or service launch, decision makers can substantially de-risk their development processes and improve their chances of success.
Is that a wise decision? Our experience would indicate that it's not. In fact, we've uncovered a tight correlation between manufacturer and industrial player brand strength and the resulting revenue, margin and operating profit performance of a company (r-squared = 0.648 on a recent client assessment). And our peers at McKinsey, Deloitte and others have found similar correlations with financial performance in B2B segments, including direct links to EPS, a metric near-and-dear to the Boardroom.
As a starting point, we would recommend that our colleagues at B2B players take a step back and think about whether their brand management activities simply consist of an amalgam of Marketing / PR efforts or whether they truly possess a coherent brand strategy. A strategy that manages and fine tunes how a given brand performs relative to customer expectations across all of the cumulative experiences those customers have with the brand in question. From Advertising to Sales to Manufacturing to Installation and Aftermarket Service and Support, top-performing B2B brands provide a seamless and consistent customer experience across the customer lifecycle, creating a self-reinforcing reputation that drives customer lock-in, increases pricing power, provides opportunities for cross-selling and a platform for pursuing adjacencies.
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