B2B Branding Matters

A while back, Geoffrey Moore remarked on the ineffectiveness of B2B branding (at least compared to B2C branding). Today, I read an article by Jon Miller, who is holding the contrary position—that B2B branding matters. Who is right? Jon settles on this main argument: "B2B buyers are still people, and people are emotional". He alludes to Kevin Randall's argument that branding is actually essential for the B2B market. It seems a stretch to argue that emotion is the biggest reason for the effectiveness of B2B brands. Here, Moore must be right: B2B decisions are more weighty and complex than typical B2C purchases. And it must be true that these decisions are more deliberate. But, it does not in any way follow that a deliberate choice is an unbranded choice. Here, I side with Randall. Brands, in the best sense, allow shortcuts. A good brand captures many complex ideas. And when well-communicated, a good brand passes these ideas along to the potential client. In this sense, a solid brand can facilitate purchases by narrowing the complexity that a buyer faces. And isn't this just what it does for B2C brands, too? Isn't brand communication just a shorthand way of reminding the purchaser about the company's or product's qualities?

Comments

I think Geoffrey Moore was commenting on the lack of good b2b branding. Ask him what he thinks about Cisco's approach and I believe you'll get a different answer. My bigger concern is lack of understanding from b2b marketers on what it truly takes to build and market a successful brand.