The value of branding in B2B environments is epitomised by modern technology markets. Traditionally associated with a reluctance to invest in brand, this industry is accustomed to spending vast amounts on technical facilities and capital equipment. Technology markets are especially reticent to channel resources into what it often identifies as abstract concerns and until recently, this attitude was acceptable. Previously, demand for technology predominantly centred on product functionality and cost, conforming to the stereotype of today’s B2B model. However, technology suppliers were forced to re-examine this approach as their markets matured.
As new technologies grew commonplace and supply grew dramatically proliferated, wider differentiation became essential. Added to this, the effect of increasingly short product lifecycles has further created a need for brands which can exist outside of individual products and services. The continuous introduction of new and competing products, updates and enhancements has forced technology suppliers to look beyond their conventional reliance on product attributes alone. In this respect, a strong brand has the capacity to restore stability to an overcrowded marketplace, and combat the downward price spiral of commoditization.
The continual collapse of market boundaries is another factor that today’s technology markets must contend with. The advancing nature of technology has led to a growing climate of convergence, meaning that products are increasingly able to transcend the confines of specific industries. Even if a product is renowned for its application in one particular field, it can often be reduced to near anonymity when transferred into another. Absurdly, this situation can work against even the most innovative products or services. It is a truism that your most absolute strengths will inevitably become your most destructive weaknesses, a philosophy that has extreme relevance in the case of technology markets. As a consequence, it is vital that businesses develop a brand that can exist outside of their specific product markets and that will stimulate end user confidence even in alien environments.
Like the majority of modern markets, technology markets have been significantly affected by the internet. While online is now a key purchasing channel, most buyers will be aware of the element of risk that is perceived to be heightened by this medium. Strong branding activity will inevitably become more important due to its ability to generate trust. Equally, as the number of content channels open to technology marketers has increased beyond count, fiercer competition means that prospects and customers are now more skilled at filtering out the noise. As such, it is imperative that technology markets and the B2B sector in general, partner with marketers that understand the full scope of their concerns and objectives.
Resistance is Futile!
Successful brands build strong customer relationships for perhaps the very reason that B2B has historically resisted investing in them. A strong brand is based not just on tangible benefits but on intangible drivers with the capacity to provoke strong emotional responses. For less progressive B2B environments it is perhaps something of a culture shock to invest in strategic branding activity. However, in line with increasingly competitive markets, evolving industries, converging technologies and the increase of content channels, resistance to the significance of branding can only be destructive. Individuals react not to reality but to their perception of it. You may have the most superior product offering in your market, but if your market does not believe it, or if they do not know who you are or what you stand for, this will go largely ignored. Ultimately, business prospects demand facts. However, they will also respond to an overt recognition of their human propensity for emotional stimulation. At the very least, in the B2B environment a powerful brand will hold the attention of your prospects and convince them to process the facts.