B2B brand management has come a long way from its roots in consumer packaged goods and has gradually branched out to play an equally central role in B2B markets. B2B CMOs are just as invested in bettering their brands as B2C. No longer relegated to industry rags and trade shows, B2B marketing is entering a new age, with firms like CA Technologies, General Electric, and IBM in the vanguard. At a Forrester event, General Electric CMO Linda Boff remarked that GE is often the first brand —not just the first B2B brand —on platforms like Pinterest, Snapchat, and Vine.

But are most B2B brands successful in following in the footsteps of these trail blazers? Forrester research with over 1,000 B2B and B2C decision-makers reveals mixed results. Here's the good news: B2B CMOs include Brand in their top three priorities and consider Brand Management to be the strongest skill set in the department. But here's where it gets ugly: 25% of B2B CMOs consider Brand Awareness an important marketing metric; only 15% believe Brand Equity is important.     

This chasm between awareness and equity, which also exists for B2C brands, can prove particularly vexing and stubborn for B2B because of some commonly held misconceptions:

  1. Brand matters more for B2C (a lingering notion despite being soundly dispelled)
  2. The role of brand (in a traditional sales-driven culture) is to drive awareness and fill the mouth of the funnel (the reality points to a vital role in securing choice and loyalty)
  3. Brand Equity is amorphous, eludes specification, and hence best avoided (there exist many robust quantitatively-specified equity models
  4. There is no way to measure Brand Equity, hence no way to monitor and manage it (equity tracking and analytics is a B2B brand management best practice

In my latest report (B2B Brands Must Focus On Brand Equity To Drive Value), I outline a framework to understand, conceptualize, and build a measurement program for Brand Equity to fuel Strategic Brand Management. Here are the key takeaways from that report:

Brand Equity Is Crucial

Metrics such as awareness and consideration are static “weather reports.” They do not address the core worth of the brand asset. To measure and manage brands for dynamic brand building, firms must focus on brand equity.

Equity Is Experiential And Emotional

The worth of a brand derives both from its fulfillment of its brand promises and from the emotional resonance it strikes. Measuring equity requires a framework that encompasses functional as well as emotional attributes.

B2B CMOs Can Measure And Track B2B Equity

Tailor B2B brand equity assessment models to incorporate greater complexity in decision-making and a different set of emotional attributes than for B2C brands. Uniquely customized frameworks can help B2B CMOs estimate and track their brand’s equity.

Forrester Clients: In the report you will find a rigorous approach for building a Brand Equity Management system that tackles the various considerations and techniques specific to B2B brands, such as multiple decision makers, experience-intensive functional attributes, and customized emotional personalities. A companion piece to this report is the B2B Brand Measurement Workshop I run that walks client teams step-by-step through the process of Brand Equity Management and Measurement. At the end of this session, the client has a solid understanding of what it means and what it takes to manage Brand Equity, and has all the tools to embark on the journey. If this is of interest you, please reach out to me (dchatterjee@forrester.com) or your Forrester contact.         

To find out more about my perspective on Brand Strategy and Brand Management for both B2C and B2B brands, please visit my page.