The concept of branding started with our ancestors "branding" cattle so they could easily pick their own animals from a larger herd. Today, a "brand" stands for much more than the mere identification of a product. With a good brand, you can create an emotional bond between your product and your customer.
When we say "brand," we usually think of products from the retail sector: breakfast cereals, soft drinks, electronics, etc. You immediately see their colorful packaging, including graphic or cartoon elements. They attract the eye and your hand reaches out naturally … which is of course the intention. These types of brands tell a very simple story. Look at me! Buy me! With me you're going to have fun, or a great taste experience! The message is aimed at quickly grabbing attention and closing the sale.
Products destined for sale to other companies or organizations, i.e. B2B products and solutions, also need a brand and a story. A colorful logo alone is not sufficient for products intended for sectors such as technology or healthcare. The more complex nature of both the products themselves and their sales process requires marketing that is more nuanced and complicated.
4 main differences between branding for products that companies want to sell directly to consumers (B2C) and for those they offer to other companies (B2B):
1. Marketing aimed at an individual vs. to a team. The marketing of a consumer product focuses on a single person: an individual looking at products that are displayed on a store shelf or presented in an online catalog. B2B products, on the other hand, need to appeal to an entire team that is involved in those kinds of decisions.
2. Marketing aimed at emotion vs. analysis and assessment. B2C marketing is in some ways a lot easier. In fact, the emotional satisfaction you get when you choose that product - say, drink a particular soft drink - is almost more important than the product itself. B2B marketing needs to be a lot more strategic.
3. Marketing to delight the eye vs. marketing to persuade the brain. For B2C products, logos and colors perform most of their job in-store. In a B2B context, brands, colors and logos have a much more complex function to fulfil.
4. Marketing that starts with the visual aspect vs. marketing that ends with the visual aspect. In B2C marketing, the visual elements are at the forefront. The story follows. For B2B, you have to reverse the order and work out the story first.
Want to know more about the 4 main differences between branding and positioning for B2B compared to B2C? Our info sheet goes into more detail.