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					                4th International Conference on Management
                             IBSA-ICON 09
                               02nd - 04th Jan2009
                                IBS Ahmedabad

Paper Title:     The Essence of Branding in Business Markets

Author :         Surinder Pal Singh

Designation :    Professor

Organisation:    Rai Business School

Address:         A-41, MCIE, Mathura Road, New Delhi - 110044


Mobile:          09873901021

                                  Executive Summary

1.     Introduction
Branding is regarded as an important element of marketing strategy and the benefits of investing
in brands, to develop a competitive advantage, are well documented. Recent literatures on
branding have highlighted the importance of psychological and emotional elements of brands.
Brands based on intangible & emotive characteristics such as trust, reassurance, reputation,
image and responsiveness are seen as more durable and less likely to suffer from competitive
erosion. While there is an extensive literature devoted to branding, there is a notable emphasis on
consumer goods. The paucity of research on B2B branding leads to the conclusion that branding
is unimportant in B2B markets due to the characteristics of organisational markets and in
particular the nature of organisational purchasing. In addition, the limited work on business
branding has largely ignored the role of emotion and the extent to which organisational
purchasers, like final consumers, may be influenced by emotional brand attributes.

2.     Fundamental Issues of the Study
The purpose of this paper is to examine the way brands are used and communicated in industrial
markets. Although various researches have proposed explanatory models for aspects of B2B
marketing, a comprehensive framework for B2B brand communication is still lacking. In this
regard, this paper tries to put forward a model both for branding and organisational buying
behaviour by presenting a framework that balances B2B brand values at both internal and
external communication levels. The attempt is to address three gaps as identified in the literature
for further research. Firstly, there is need for research on the role of emotion in industrial
buying behaviour. Despite the fact that emotional brand augmentation is seen as key for brand
success in consumer markets, the extent to which the same wisdom is accepted or applied in B2B
markets has remained largely unexplored and under-researched. Secondly, despite a plethora of
research on personal selling, there has been little investigation into the critical role that the
industrial salesperson plays in communicating emotional brand values. The third gap concerns
the linkages between internal and external brand communication in business markets. While
considerable attention has been paid to the salesperson-customer interaction, less effort has been
devoted to understanding the internal branding process, whereby internal brand values are
developed and communicated within the organisation.

3.     Methodology of the Study
This paper opens by reviewing the literature on emotion and organisational buying behaviour.
The work of consumer brand researchers and the business branding research to date is then
examined as a basis for understanding B2B branding. The paper further appraises the role of
emotional brand values in both internal and external brand communication. As a result of the
literature review, a number of propositions are put forward on the incorporation and
communication of emotional brand values in B2B marketing. These propositions are integrated
into a proposed model of B2B brand communication. This model highlights the importance of
balancing functional and emotional brand values for successful B2B brand building.

4.     Findings of the Study
As branding is growing in importance on the B2B agenda, evidence from some B2B markets
indicates that the creation of an emotional connection with buyers is increasingly seen as a key-
differentiating factor. High-tech companies such as Infosys and Wipro are successfully using
branding to make an emotional connection with organisational buyers. This move into ‘the
uncharted territory of emotions’ is a reaction by organisations to what Tom Peters calls the
‘blight of sameness’, i.e. overcrowded marketplaces with products offering the same levels of
functionality. This growing appreciation of emotional brand augmentation has implications for
the way in which marketers develop and communicate brand values in B2B markets.

Typical media used to communicate B2B brand information include personal selling,
advertising, trade shows, direct marketing and the Internet. While most B2B firms use a mixture
of communication vehicles, the characteristics of many industrial markets dictate that personal
selling is the dominant communication medium. Similarly, the nature of many B2B markets
would support the argument for particular brand emphasis at the corporate rather than an
individual product level. Ultimately, for many B2B firms, the successful development of buyer-
seller relationships may hinge on the salesperson’s behaviour.The dyadic nature of the sales
encounter has direct implications for the way in which brand values are experienced by
customers, with the skills and abilities of the sales staff playing a key role in brand
communication. The ability of salespeople to adapt their sales strategies and messages to
accommodate specific sales interactions has been recognised by both researchers and managers

as an essential component in improving both customer satisfaction and salesperson performance.
Various studies have found that salespeople should consider adapting their selling approach to
the buyer’s decision-making processes or the buyer’s communication styles.

B2B brand values are inculcated and disseminated through three main channels, i.e. the
organisation’s culture, internal communication media for industrial salespeople, and sales force

5.      Discussion
Drawing on the Elaboration Likelihood Model, it can be said that organisational buyers are
influenced by both rational and emotional brand values. The extent to which emotions influence
buying decisions varies according to organisational factors such as
product and purchasing situation and individual factors such as personal characteristics, buying
centre role and influence, and their level of involvement in the purchase decision.

The implications of this argument are significant for B2B brand communications strategies. It is
often argued that salespeople need to adapt the components of a brand message to respond to the
differing information processing capabilities of the members of the buying centre. Brand
communications that do not recognise the value attached to emotional brand elements by
different buying centre participants may adversely undermine the sales process. More
specifically we postulate that:

        1. At a corporate level, B2B sales organisations need to recognise and
        incorporate the power of emotion into their brand identities and
        communicate emotional brand values internally.
        2. B2B firms need to ensure their salespeople are trained to understand and
        communicate emotional brand values externally in response to buying
        centre concerns and needs.

From this review, three propositions are put forward that lay the foundations for successfully
building B2B brands:

Proposition ONE – Organisations of successful B2B brands are influenced by both
functional and emotional brand attributes.

Proposition TWO – For successful external brand communication, an organisation’s
internal and external brand communication emphasises both functional and emotional
brand values

Proposition THREE – B2B salespeople adapt their sales presentations and brand messages
to accommodate the importance attached to different brand values by buying centre

6.     Concluding Thoughts
There is a gap in the knowledge bases of both branding and organisational buying behaviour
with a need for a much deeper understanding of how brands are perceived and used in business-
to-business markets. This paper highlights a number of areas where the limited research is dated
and lacking in empirical evidence and puts forward propositions to stimulate research into this
important issue.

Research is needed regarding the manner in which industrial sales person communicate brand
values in business relationships and the extent to which they emphasise emotional brand
attributes in their sales presentations. By focusing on the salesperson as the medium for brand
communication, further research is also needed to provide insights into the nature of
communication in the salesperson-customer relationship. As concepts of brand identity and
internal branding are relatively recent ones, empirical research on the way in which emotional
brand values are developed and communicated internally will contribute substantially to our
understanding of these processes.

This paper draws attention to the potentially powerful role of emotional brand values in B2B
marketing. As put forward, arguments show that organisational purchasers are influenced by

both emotional and rational brand values and an acknowledgement of this provides B2B sales
organisations with the opportunity to incorporate the power of emotion into both their internal
and external brand communications. The postulated model in this paper attempts to aid B2B
marketers in the incorporation of emotional values into their brand strategies. By examining the
way in which companies communicate and are influenced by intangible, emotional brand values
it is hoped that future research will make a significant contribution to understand more about
effective B2B branding.