Building Brands Beyond Advertising Corporate Practice

For corporate brands, whether B2B or B2C, advertising is one of the most expensive route to build a brand. There are smarter ways to build a corporate brand across stakeholders: Customers, Employees, Media, Industry Bodies, Regulators, Suppliers and others.

For B2B brands, the need is even lower. As the business model of the B2B brand evolves from being a mere supplier to being an enabler; from purely a conversation about cost and specifications, B2B partners moved to being solution providers. Today – they have moved further, to become enablers. They are directly talking to their customer’s customers.

Whether Intel or L&T; each of these B2B brands have been leveraged by their customer’s to create a believable product. The Acer brand of computers was accepted in the market only because Intel was powering it. Lokhandwala builders promise on time project completion because L&T is executing the project.

This is the power of being an INGREDIENT BRAND. Such brands enable their customers to reach their business goals and usually command a premium and enjoy greater customer loyalty.

How do companies create an ingredient brand?

One obvious answer is: TIME!
B2B brands take a long time to build – and usually the known ones are the ones that have been in business and have delivered performance consistently for more than 3-4 decades. (Everest Roofing, Sintex Tanks, Fevicol Adhesives, L&T and many more). The question is, is that the only way?

The answer we usually come across is – more advertising. The problem with that approach is two fold :

  • There are very high levels of clutter in ALL media today. As consumers of media, we face a barrage of messages on a daily basis. For any messaging to stand out, it needs to be memorable and it needs to have a high frequency of media presence. This is both expensive and wasteful.
  • The second and more fundamental issue is that advertising for B2B and decision making for B2B rarely coincides. A company advertising a soap brand can be fairly certain of the frequency of purchase and therefore the chances of advertising hitting home while the buying decision is being taken; are very high. For B2B brands on the other hand – to ensure advertising when someone needs a power plant or is building a bridge is next to impossible! Thus – B2B brands need to ensure AWARENESS, so that whenever someone needs those products or services – the brand becomes the first remembered.

To create a continual slow burn of awareness, the old media models of PAID media (advertising) are giving way to a greater reliance on OWNED and EARNED media. Owned media consists of everything from own trucks, facades of offices, hoardings at construction site, websites and other physical and virtual locations. EARNED media accrues as people begin to talk about the brand due to its activities. So social media and word-of-mouth are relevant; apart from traditional PR.

It is, however, important that ingredient brands are memorable, differentiated and yet easily remembered.

So next time you consider advertising, think branding instead!

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