Magazine article Marketing

B2B Brands Show Their Strength

Magazine article Marketing

B2B Brands Show Their Strength

Article excerpt

A new book reveals that great brands are not just the preserve of the consumer sector.

When we think of great brands, names like Levi's, Coca-Cola and Nike spring to mind. Built on emotion, heritage and years of advertising, these brands are part of the social fabric.

However, as any failed dotcom entrepreneur will tell you, business to-consumer is no longer the sunniest side of the street. Business-to-business (B2B) is attracting more attention than ever before and, as the profile of the sectorrises, so too does the prominence of a new generation of business superbrands.

These are the subject of a new book, published by the Superbrands organisation. An insight into over 50 of the world's best known names in B2B, Business Superbrands shows that the consumer sector does not have a monopoly on great brands, nor on the marketing skills that are required to build them, There are revealing examples of how some of these B2B giants came into being -- stories which make some consumer brands look flimsy by comparison.

Brand showmanship

Take JCB as an example. You wouldn't expect a company that makes mechanical diggers to be experts in the finer points of branding, but JCB's marketing has been as consistently brilliant as its famous yellow machines. The exploits of Joseph C Bamford, the company's founder, are legendary. He invested in a JCB -branded fleet of aircraft, in which he would go and collect prospective buyers from overseas, put them on a champagne-fuelled flight to his factory, show them his diggers, and then fly them home again. The company still operates the fleet--a strategy which has helped it win 15 Queen's Awards for Export Achievement.

This culture of eccentric showmanship is also behind the JCB Circus. For 35 years, ballet-like routines performed by synchronised JCB diggers have entertained the crowds, but also shown what the machines can do.

The company's flair for publicity even saw it build a dragster version of a digger -- capable of 100 mph. It made the front page of Autocar.

JCB's skill in attracting publicity also comes from its attention to detail. When Bamford launched JCB's famous backhoe digger in the early 1960s, he designed the driver's cab to accommodate a kettle for making tea.

Making this a key selling point, Bamford personally delivered JCB kettles to the first 100 owners of the new machine, arriving for the ceremony in his Rolls Royce (number plate JCB 1).

When it comes to heritage, some business superbrands are untouchable. Some of the most important inventions in history were made by Siemens, including the discovery of the dynamo-electric principle in 1866. This gave us electric motors and the power generation industry.

Siemens also invented the first electric street lighting -- in Surrey of all places. In 1873 it laid the first undersea cable linking Britain and the US, spawning a new age of communication.

This incredible heritage of innovation has left Siemens with over 100,000 patents and 24,000 inventions to its name. Today, it patents 28 new inventions every day.

Revolutionary simplicity

Some of the greatest B2B brands derive their power from their simplicity. The humble Post-it Note is a classic case. In 1999 Fortune Magazine ranked Post-it Notes alongside the paper clip, the photocopier and the faxmachine in a 'Products of the Century' league, honouring brands which have helped revolutionise the workplace. …

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