B2B Branding – It’s all about the customer!

So many companies spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about brand names. Often the reasons are childish. Here are some of the most common ones I’ve seen:

1. Our development team spent thousands of hours developing this code and they love to see it have a name so that they can be proud of it.

2. We use a variety of routes to market and we price the same stuff differently depending on how we sell it, so giving everything a different name allows us to keep control.

3. We acquired a company and that was they name they used, and we don’t want to change it, as the employees from that company tell us it will upset people.

4. We named those products after the children of the CEO, he has five children so we needed to use five brand names.

5. We hired a new Chief of Marketing, and they wanted to make their mark.

6. We were bored with our old brand and wanted to shake it up.

Of course these all sound like stupid reasons to create a brand name, but I can asure you these are all real examples.

For consumer products brand names do make sense, they allow a company to build attributes around a product, group of products or category and then provide a reason for consumers to be loyal to that association.

But the same does not hold true for business purchases. Business people tend to follow a very careful purchasing process that starts with the identification of a problem that needs to be solved and the formation of a team to consider the best ways of solving it. This team will include business, technical and financial people who will all consider the ways of solving it from their perspective. Some of this team will be more eloquent that others and will have a greater say in the final decision, but the process strips out emotion and relies of cold hard facts.

Business products are therefore most successful when they are easy to describe technically, financially and at a business level. The cool name plays very little part in it. In fact a cool name gets in the way. If the product is called the “iflapgrabber 2000” no one will know what it is on an invoice, while if it was called “a door handle” it will pass through the process of review much more easily.

If the response to a request for a quote lists “iflabgrabber 2000, iattach-o-top, iattach-o-bot, iportalblock, isecuritizer and iopener” as opposed
to “a door, hinges, a handle, a lock and a key” it’s easy to see which one will create confusion and which one is easy to say yes to.

Brands in business actually can create barriers, making it hard for people to choose a solution, hard to share it and hard to communicate.

Many companies who sell to businesses are learning this lesson and moving away from individual brand names towards simple descriptive names that make their products easier to understand and consume in business.

If you want to sell more to businesses, think like the people you are trying to sell too. Know what problem they want to solve, who they are and how they would like to solve it.

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