• BRANDS & U

B2B branding strategies in the developing markets 

B2B brand strategy is undoubtedly the most critical tool in laying a proper foundation for sales and marketing

initiatives— especially for industries who compete in crowded places and sell a raw material or primary agricultural product that can be bought and sold. But despite having such gravity, brand strategy is a concept that's widely misunderstood and implemented pretty rarely. B2B brand strategy basically is a long term plan that combines who you are as a company, what your brand stands in the market, what are your future endeavors and most importantly how you are going to get there. All these things together stands for B2B marketing strategy in a nutshell. Interest in developing markets such as China, India, Brazil and Russia has increased very rapidly over the past decade, which means that market research and intelligence agencies are now exploring a wider variety of landscapes than they did before. A brand nowadays has grown to be much more than just a logo. It begins with the consistency with which it can present its products to the consumers that ultimately becomes the identity of the company. On this branding ladder, the main hurdle is to move beyond the graphic symbol and metaphors to get to the more difficult cultural uniformity that customers and potential consumers recognize and value.

Reasons for interest in B2B Branding

In the best selling book Traction, by Gino Wickman, he says that, " Most leaders can clearly see their vision. Their problem is that they make the mistake of thinking that everyone else in the organization sees it too. In most cases they don't, and as a result, leaders end up frustrated, staff ends up confused, and great visions are left unrealized"

In most B2B markets consumers regard product quality and durability as an important requirement. Companies with low qualities are not in business in the long run, leaving the ground to the serious market players to differentiate on the extended offer — service, brand, quality etc. In competition with the companies of the West, the best strategy in the markets of the developing countries should be, to cream-skim the market by targeting only the 10%-20% of the quality focussed buyers. Value added pricing is common in developed markets that means buyers are willing to pay more for superior offers, usually based around services, brand, consultancy, and other benefits beyond the product itself. The clients from the West tend to premium-price in developing markets, communicating in high quality to a small part of the market and receiving high margins in return. Even companies that are comparatively undifferentiated in their home markets have frequently succeeded when premium-pricing was done in the markets of developing countries.

The B2B brand strategy is much easier said than done. And developing a proper business strategy does not take place in the wink of an eye. The elements of a good brand strategy includes :

  • Business Model Definition : It's basically documentation of your value proposition, channels, customer relationships, key activities, key partnerships and revenue streams.

  • Positioning statements :Establishing the company's core focus, purpose, core values and a blend of unique emotional and associative characteristics that prevents the brand from becoming a commodity itself.

  • Strategic plan :Developing your 10 year target, 3 year picture, 1 year plan, target market and consumers, proven success and industry guarantee.

One might think that banging your heads over these strategies are quite unrealistic, when there are other pressing issues like manufacturing products, customer service etc. But one must note that big companies and brands do spend some time over these issues which ultimately boost their position in the market in the long run. Successful companies have their plans completely ready for their next 25 years. They have their goals fixed and strategies jotted down on how they are going to accomplish those goals. Being in this market for quite a long time now, these Companies know it pretty well that being too near sighted can be a real brand killer.

In a world where everything increasingly looks the same, brands are one of the few opportunities for making a difference. Some companies have been highly successful in this mission. However with a little extra effort and cost, the effect could be much improved loyalty and greater responsibility. With this positioning, the influence of the brand on the selection of the supplier would surely be increased.

Conclusion

It is said that a company without a strategy is willing to try anything. And that vision without action is just hallucination.

B2B branding is surely not the holy grail. It is not the be all and end all of a successful business. Branding sits at the core of a company's philosophy because a company's brand is what the company is. It has been over and over again that brand strategy isn't an isolated cost —the work serves a very practical application in making subsequent marketing activities more efficient and effective. Most importantly, empirical research is required to examine sustainability based B2B branding in the larger context of stakeholder marketing and especially in emerging markets with great social, economic and environmental challenges.