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How to Develop an Effective B2B Brand Strategy

Effective brand strategy is critical for business success. Companies in the B2C world make this abundantly clear as Coke, Doritos, and many others spend millions of dollars producing and airing catchy commercials that last for 30 or 60 seconds during the Super Bowl. The benefits of an effective brand strategy include increasing product sales and maintaining a loyal customer base. There are similar benefits to having an effective brand strategy in the B2B world, though the branding audience is no longer the consumer but various purchase decision makers in other business entities.

Blue Canyon has been engaged with several companies across various industries that have struggled with the complex undertaking of developing an effective brand strategy. One critical element of an effective brand strategy is brand architecture, which addresses how a company can best structure its brand portfolio, such as the hierarchy of brands relative to one another, in order to create synergy and leverage brand equity. Another critical element of an effective brand strategy is brand positioning, which is the strategic messaging of the attributes and benefits of the product brand, the sub-brand, and the master or corporate brand to the right audiences.

A client in the healthcare industry struggled with the relative arrangement of their product, divisional, and corporate brands in their brand hierarchy. Their corporate and product brands proved to be more prominent than their divisional brands, which did not possess as much brand equity. Current and potential customers did not recognize their divisional brands as they did their product and corporate brands. Their divisional brand name, logo, and tag line did not evoke the same response or produce the same results as their product or corporate brand counterparts. This company decided to sunset their divisional brands and capitalize on the large brand equity of their corporate and product brands. This client is now able to market more effectively, as well as unify their company-wide offerings under one strong master brand.

A client in the security solutions industry grappled with the positioning of their different brands to different audiences. This company has a product line with a very strong brand, well known among current and potential end customers for its quality and longevity. However, their corporate brand did not have this strong level of brand awareness among these end customers. One contributing reason was that they had recently spun off from their parent company, renamed the corporation, and this corporate brand name was not well recognized. The company ultimately decided to promote the product brand first and foremost at the end customer level, due to its relative strength over the corporate brand in terms of customer recognition and affiliation, while the corporate brand was positioned as the master brand to investor constituents and employees.

In developing an effective brand strategy, B2B companies should focus on arranging their product, sub-brand, and corporate brands within a robust brand architecture. Additionally, B2B companies should consider positioning different brands to different audiences with different goals, from end customers to channel partners to investors and employees. Brand architecture and brand positioning can both be part of an effective brand strategy, which can increase product sales and help maintain a loyal customer base.

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