The main difference between B2C and B2B brand strategy is that consumer brands contain less information than B2B brands. This is because most consumer products are cheaper and less important. However, this does not mean that B2B brands include less soft values. B2B brands build a very soft relationship with their customers and soft values are their most competitive values. Actually, the more expensive and important the product is, the more important the soft values are.
To understand this better we can compare a B2B relationship to a personal relationship. The most suitable choice for this exercise is marriage, assuming that B2B relationships would never work as a one night stand, friends with benefits, first dating experience, or a rebound.
To test this assumption I visited the first Google search result for “perfect marriage partner” – Seven Qualities of an Ideal Partner by PsychAlive.org – and evaluated rules they suggested:
1) An ideal partner has grown up – YES – if a B2B brand is mature and established it will have more equity;
2) An ideal partner is open and non-defensive – YES – a transparent B2B brand will win over a non-transparent brand;
3) An ideal partner is honest and lives with integrity – YES – transparent principles and a niche focus are crucial for a B2B brand positioning and growth;
4) An ideal partner is respectful of and sensitive to the other, having uniquely individual goals and priorities – YES – customization is a key to a B2B sale and brand strategy;
5) An ideal partner has empathy for and understanding of their partner – YES – ability to support clients during their crisis and challenges is a winner for B2B brands;
6) An ideal partner is physically affectionate and sexually responsive – NOT CLEAR – although it would be entertaining to find an analogy for this advice, I will skip it;
7) An ideal partner has a sense of humor – YES – humor is a reflection of a having a larger view of the relationship and the category, which is a plus.
So, if a B2B brand satisfies six of above seven rules, it will be highly competitive no matter which products it sells.
The exercise of comparing brand-to-customer relationships to person-to-person relationships can be repeated for any type of customer or product. It allows us to percive much more details in soft values which is where the brand can be more competitive.
For more on B2B brand strategy, I also suggest Bob Domenz’ “Conquering the Complex B2B Sale” on Branding Mag.