Developing Insights on Branding in the B2B Context

Cover of Developing Insights on Branding in the B2B Context

Case Studies from Business Practice

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Synopsis

Table of contents

(15 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xx
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Abstract

In markets that are increasingly competitive, building strong business-to-business (B2B) brands is a key success factor. With this in mind, the first chapter of the book presents the current research on B2B branding and discusses the main topics of the book by presenting internal branding, external branding, and the contemporary perspectives on B2B branding. After a review of these topics, the chapter analyses each of the following chapters by presenting their short introductions.

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Abstract

This chapter presents a short overview of core branding values and provides a description of how to capture them in a business-to-business (B2B) context. However, the reader should keep in mind that the value of branding is a broad term consisting of different aspects, which makes it challenging to capture and present them all in one chapter. For this reason, the authors have chosen to introduce diverse facets of brand identity and image, customer values, and sustainability issues, which are part of the core values of branding in a B2B context. These issues are also elaborated in more detail in Chapters 2, 5, and 10. In addition, the authors present brand-building tools for managers, such as personal selling, direct marketing, public relations, trade shows and exhibitions, as well as advertising and sales promotion. Finally, the applicability of these tools is demonstrated through the practical example of Axel Technologies and their Fuugo service.

Part 1 Internal Branding

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Abstract

Corporate Brand Identity is concerned with an internal process in a firm to develop and communicate its brand as a basic strategic perspective toward business markets. In business-to-business (B2B) markets, the market consists of specific firms and organizations as key counterparts. Brand identity thus needs to focus on creating value for potential others through understanding its own brand identity, i.e. what the firm stands for. Branding activities should be managed together with employees and matched with the central values of the brand. The brand identity is communicated toward key business partners who, in turn, perceive the brand and the value the firm promises to deliver in practice. Corporate identity and image are thus closely related issues. An important part of the corporate brand deals with relationships between actors on the market. This chapter presents two prominent corporate brand identity models and uses them jointly in order to analyze a practical case dealing with property management business in Finland. The chapter ends by offering suggestions for managing corporate brand identity processes in practice.

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Abstract

This chapter offers insights on how knowledge management (KM) tools and initiatives contribute to successful internal branding. Knowledge management has gained considerable recognition from both business practitioners and academics. However, understanding and implementation of KM practices in relation to internal branding is still a largely unexplored field. The authors, thus, present several models of knowledge sharing and outline their applicability to the field of internal branding. Through a case study of a Finnish multinational company Teleste, this chapter shows the applicability of the presented theories for brand knowledge sharing. The practical case looks at how knowledge sharing helped Teleste in the process of rebranding, particularly when promoting its new brand image within the organization.

Abstract

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become an essential part of business, and companies should genuinely incorporate social responsibilities toward internal and external stakeholders in their operations. The most important stakeholder group is the personnel, which is why employers should pay attention to strengthening the employer–employee relationship. The purpose of this text is to demonstrate the connections between employer branding and CSR.

Theory on employer branding and CSR indicates that there are both strategic and operational connections. Strategically, employer branding can be considered the outcome of the co-operation among branding, CSR, and human resource management (HRM). At an operational level, there are several CSR activities that can be of use when developing and implementing economic, functional, and psychological employer-branding elements.

In order to establish how CSR is used in employer branding in practice, a qualitative content analysis of the website communication of three multinational IT companies was made. All of the companies have been acknowledged for their strong internal employer brands, and the analysis focused on what types of CSR activities they communicate externally as part of their employer branding efforts.

The study concludes that CSR can be relevant to employer branding and presents a categorization model for facilitating a concrete integration of CSR and employer-branding elements.

Part 2 External Branding

Abstract

The chapter focuses on brand image and its role in business relationship initiation. The chapter takes the perspective of personal brands, CEO branding in particular, and discusses how brand image of the CEO affects the establishment of new relationships. The corporate brand image provides a first insight into, for instance, perceived quality, while the CEO brand is a strategic combination of the CEO image and CEO reputation. An empirical case study exemplifies and illustrates how the corporate brand and the CEO brand interlink. The reader learns that a strong CEO brand may outperform the corporate brand in the initial stage of establishing new business relationships. Trust and commitment are highlighted through the case, inducing that business relationship performance is dependent on personal interaction and network bonds between the actors. The personal brand of the CEO is an important element in branding strategies and a strategic tool for organizations active in the B2B domain. This relates specially to partner selection and the stage of initiating business relationships. Furthermore, both rational and emotional factors are considered when business partners evaluate each other, in search for information and cues as regards the history of the partner. Eventually, trust is created between the partners, and the relationship is initiated.

Abstract

The chapter presents how business-to-business (B2B) actors may use branding as a tool for maintaining strong, long-term business relationships with their customers. Current knowledge on how to maintain business relationships is presented, related to branding as a tool contributing to long-term and strong business relationships. The phenomenon is studied in detail through a case company, Verso Globe, which operates in the consultancy area and is specialized in sustainability issues. The authors conclude that shared values and norms lead to beneficial business relationships and help maintain them. Also, the case company is closely collaborating and co-creating with its customers, which leads to technological adaptation and increases mutual commitment. A reputation of sharing values, having interest to develop, and co-creating with customers benefits the company and builds the corporate brand. The company culture must, however, support the efforts that make the brand. It is therefore important for B2B actors to understand the customer’s values and use it as a basis for customer relationship management activities. Concurrently, the company’s own values and how it directs employees are elements of its culture, which is the basis for the corporate brand. The perfect match of business relationships is therefore lies in aligning values and norms between the partners.

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Abstract

This chapter offers insights into one of the most influential aspects of external branding, namely, branding within business-to-business (B2B) sales. In particular, the authors of this chapter claim that B2B sales are indispensable for the growth and existence of a brand. The special attention of this chapter is focused on sales personnel, as representatives of firms and carriers of branding. In other words, the impact of sales personnel on branding in a B2B context is presented theoretically and examined empirically. The chapter thereafter offers an interesting case study of Logomo, a cultural venue in Finland, specializing in selling customized space to companies, as well as organizing different kinds of public events. Through a combination of theory and practice, the authors demonstrate the importance of branding within B2B sales and conclude by providing specific implications for practitioners.

Part 3 Contemporary Perspectives on B2B Branding

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Abstract

This chapter focuses on the importance of emotions, as a notable part of corporate branding in a business-to-business (B2B) context. Since the issue of emotions has often been neglected in B2B branding research, the chapter focuses on ascertaining what kind of emotional differences exist in B2B, compared to B2C context. It also explores how rational versus emotional impressions affect decision-making processes in business environment, and whether the B2B sector can turn emotions into an advantage in corporate branding. The qualitative case study is conducted, focusing on the Suomen Henkilöstötalo Company. The case offers interesting findings and managerial contributions by highlighting both emotional decision making and the importance of business relationships for strengthening the position of the company in its business market.

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Abstract

The chapter discusses online branding in the business-to-business domain and the benefits it offers to B2B actors. Online branding is a tool to interact and communicate with existing and potential customers. The authors also present content marketing as a marketing effort available to B2B marketers, as well as the nature of digital relationships in social media. The reader learns the importance of branding the company through digital channels and those benefits that can be reached through such actions. The digital tools presented in the chapter relate to social media, for example, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, blogs, search engine optimization, and paid advertising. These tools are discussed in detail, both related to their benefits and pitfalls.

Abstract

This chapter examines the benefits of being sustainable for a company’s business operations and its corporate brand. In the current business world, companies are required to act in a way that will not harm the environment in which they operate, both from a social and economic, as well as ecological, perspective. Being sustainable is, thus, an essential aspect for developing a positive brand image. The chapter overviews various theoretical stances on the issue of sustainability, as well as highlights the importance of applying sustainable thinking in a company’s business strategy and communicating sustainability-driven practices for development of a sustainable brand. By providing results from an interview with Gaia, the largest consultancy for sustainable business in Finland, the chapter offers several practical insights concerning the advantages of acting in a sustainable manner for both business operations, in general, and branding, in particular.

Abstract

This chapter provides several up-to-date examples of failures in companies’ B2B operations and branding for the readers to learn from such mistakes and never repeat them. Usually managers look for best practices in order to develop their knowledge about a certain topic, but one should not disregard the value of learning from mistakes, which may be as useful if not more efficient than obtaining knowledge from best practices. The chapter examines what kind of B2B failures are likely to happen to companies in various industries and B2B branding situations and provides a detailed case of a blunder that occurred with the Finnish multinational IT services company Tieto. In addition to accentuating errors, the chapter goes further and tries to uncover the reasons why blunders occur and provides advices on how to avoid them and what to do when a mistake has already been made.

Abstract

This final chapter of the book provides an up-to-date overview of research on B2B branding. The chapter discusses the current academic endeavors and propositions from researchers in the field, while focusing on the discipline of B2B marketing. It furthermore elaborates on the importance of brands and branding for decision-making processes by discussing the role of B2B buyers and sellers. Additionally, branding as part of marketing has been reviewed from its historical background and the first attempts to develop its conceptual background. The chapter then focuses on business buyers and their main characteristics with regard to brand relevance. Finally, the key challenges of developing a strong B2B brand are presented and discussed, after which future research avenues and upcoming trends within the B2B branding context are considered. Digitalization and the digital context are identified as important areas to know in the future, as they are increasingly becoming important stages for marketing activities within the B2B domain. The digital context is a specific platform to explore further. In addition, the intangible aspects of B2B branding that are still unknown to many managers and academics, such as emotions in situations of interaction and sales are explored. From a thematic point of view, sustainability issues will become increasingly important to handle in organizations, which will put pressure on B2B marketers, as sustainability can be communicated through the corporate brand and related branding efforts.

Index

Pages 231-237
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Cover of Developing Insights on Branding in the B2B Context
DOI
10.1108/9781787562752
Publication date
2018-08-09
Editors
ISBN
978-1-78756-276-9
eISBN
978-1-78756-275-2