Being a brand is not an easy. You have to spend too much effort, time, and money to create a strong logo and brand name. There are tons of things you must understand and play well to be successful. Today, we have experts on brand strategy, marketing segmentation, below-the-line, and above-the-line advertising, digital marketing, etc. If you are a corporate brand, maybe you need all of these experts. I understand this necessary expertizing trend, but I think this is still a tiny portion of branding. The most significant piece of branding is not about what you said; it is about what you have done!

What is the secret souse of a successful brand?

Give a brand promise and keep your word! Trust me, that is just it is.

As a company, you have to find consumers’ problems that wait for a solution and solve it. Maybe you are not serving a perfect solution; perhaps you are not the only one who has solutions. A brand is a logo-slogan concept which guarantees that you have an answer for consumer needs. In this concept, you can deliver solutions, prestige, happiness, satisfaction, etc. Brand consumer relationship is the same as people relations and stands on trust. You give a promise and don’t keep it; you lose your connection. If you are a branded service or a product, you are going to lose your customer. If you are good at delivering your commitment, it is time to talk about pricing, placement, and promotion. Now, we can talk about positioning, advertising, media buying, loyalty, etc.

Why people choose brands instead of a commodity?

You know the answer like me. “Trust.” We all buy brands because we trust them about keeping their promises, and we believe that if there is a mess about a product or service, there will be someone responsible for it. We pay more for a brand because we are afraid of having no interlocutor. So we are ready to give extra money for a Sony Bluetooth speaker instead of a Sunny branded one. You sneakingly know that if your speaker’s battery died, you wouldn’t have a replacement battery for a Sunny-branded one.

Non-branding for B2B marketing is a trap.

I think we all agree with this simple insight for B2C branding and marketing. In B2C marketing, we have too many tools to manipulate consumers to buy. We can position a brand by using not only physical & functional benefits but also emotional benefits or self-expressive benefits. By using huge marketing budgets and advertisements, we can even create a demand for non-necessary products. However, if you are a B2B marketer, your toolset is limited. Mostly you have functional benefits for your customer. Not always, but mostly “physical & functional benefits” are a trap for your brand.

Every B2B customer has a minimum requirements list, and these kinds of product benefits are easily imitable. However, in some cases, your rivals can deliver better solutions than you have. They can promise your customers more innovative products with lower prices. Because of this threat, you have to invest in your brand and marketing.

“Nobody Gets Fired For Buying IBM.” This phrase is not a myth. Think about that you are an IT manager who decides to buy servers for your company. There is a new start-up cheaper than IBM and has a better product. Might you choose them? If this start-up delivers its promise, everything will be good for you and your company. Maybe, you are going to be the next CTO. Are you ready to write down a perfect success story? What if this start-up fails? What if their server system collapsed after 3 three months, and they never answered your phone again? Do you have an acceptable answer to your superiors? Are you brave enough to take the risk of working with a new start-up instead of IBM or a famous brand? I think IBM’s “nobody gets fired” phrase is one of the best emotional benefits of all time. This phrase tells us, “buy IBM and never think again.” In any case, non of your superiors are going to accuse you of choosing IBM.

This case happened last week: “Akbank’s server blackout!”

Akbank’s servers, one of the biggest banks in Turkey, were down for two days this week. They announced a press release after the IT blackout and apologized to its customers. Here a screenshot of a small part of the press release. (Thank you for inspiration @gokhansengun)

You got the point. Akbank and its IT team tell us, “We are always ready for IT problems. So we get all precautions. You can not blame us for this breakdown because we are working with IBM. We didn’t choose a non branding partner. We chose IBM and paid extra “branding” money for this kind of trouble.” In this case, IBM’s brand and trust perception are higher than Akbank’s brand trust. After IBM’s support, Akbank solves the problems, according to the press release. This story is not about Akbank. It is about IBM and how you build trust with your B2B customers.

Lessons learned for B2B marketers,

  • You are selling a product, but you always deliver a promise. Sharp your brand promise and keep your promise perfectly.
  • Functional benefits are essential for B2B but not enough
  • If you are a strong brand in your industry, your customer or purchasing agent won’t risk anything by working with your brand.
  • If you are a brand, your customers are eager to pay extra for your product or service.
  • If you invest wisely in your brand in the long term, you can get a higher perception than your customers.
  • If you get this level, your customers will use your brand as leverage to sell their products to others.