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The narrative strategies of B2B technology brands

Gaël Bonnin (Department of Marketing, Smart Products and Consumption Institute, NEOMA Business School, Reims, France and Laboratoire Regards, University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, Reims, France)
Mauricio Rodriguez Alfonso (Department of Marketing, Higher School for Economic and Social Development (ESDES), Lyon, France and Laboratoire Regards, University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, Reims, France)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 17 June 2019

Issue publication date: 7 October 2019

Abstract

Purpose

With the rise of digital media and content marketing, business-to-business (B2B) technology firms increasingly use narratives in their marketing strategy. If research has studied the impact of narrative on audiences, the structuration of the narrative strategies is still an overlooked area. The purpose of this paper is to understand the structuration of narrative strategies.

Design/methodology/approach

Authors studied the cases of narratives on the Internet of Things produced by two leading technology firms, IBM and Cisco, between 2012 and 2016. Material includes advertising campaigns, blogs, written customer cases, white papers, public speeches and selling discourses.

Findings

The research highlights the importance of metanarratives as the core of the structuration of seemingly different contents. It also shows how firms tap into fundamental mythic archetypes and broader sociocultural narratives to try and legitimate the emerging technology. Finally, research also introduces the concept of transmedia strategy and illustrates its use by the two firms studied.

Research limitations/implications

The results are based on only two cases of multinational firms, limiting the generalization of the findings.

Practical implications

The results of the research may encourage firms to use more narrative branding strategies. They also offer directions for the key elements to manage when elaborating a narrative strategy (defining key metanarratives, identifying and using broader sociocultural narratives, designing a transmedia strategy).

Originality/value

The paper is among the first to try to understand the structuration of narrative branding strategies. While exploratory, it contributes to research on B2B branding and digital branding by bringing the narrative into B2B branding research.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This paper forms part of a special section “Emerging Technologies in Business and Industrial Marketing”, guest edited by Jeannette Paschen, Leyland Pitt and Jan Kietzmann.

Citation

Bonnin, G. and Alfonso, M.R. (2019), "The narrative strategies of B2B technology brands", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 34 No. 7, pp. 1448-1458. https://doi.org/10.1108/JBIM-03-2019-0112

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited