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B2B-rand love?

Graeme Cade EVP 20/07/2022

At the start of July, Savanta launched our Most Loved Brands report, with Cadbury’s claiming the top spot and Mark Ritson expounding the virtues of a return to brand love in Marketing Week.
Since then, we’ve received a few questions on whether or not brand love translates to the B2B arena? Sure, we can love a brand that gives us a dose of cocoa and sugar, but can we really love a B2B software brand or a components manufacturer?
The answer is yes, we can.

Just like their B2C counterparts, B2B brand love is based on emotions – how it makes you feel.

And guess what, it’s not based on which provider offers the best functionality to price ratio. Just like their B2C counterparts, B2B-rand love is based on emotions – how it makes you feel.

Over my past decade in B2B market research, I’ve seen 3 emotions come to the fore time and again:

Comfort.

Never forget that not every B2B buyer is trying to take over the world. Many live in a state of near-constant anxiety, catastrophising their future. I’m out of my depth… I’m going to do something wrong… which means I’ll get fired… which means I’ll lose the home… my partner will leave me… In this scenario, how much would you love a brand that allows you to relax? One that lets you be present with your family? To sleep at night? As the cliché goes – no one gets fired for buying IBM. A brand that brings you a bit of respite can be a brand you love.

Excitement.

On the flip side of comfort, some B2B buyers really are trying to take over the world (or at least a little corner of it). Imagine you’re a small business based in a sleepy little village. Not many customers nearby. But you have Google, Etsy, Shopify… or one of many other platforms to trade through. Now, all of a sudden, your market isn’t the 20 people a day who walk past your shop, but the entire world. That giddy feeling you get thinking about what this means for the future of your business – that’s brand love.

Smugness.

Perhaps an unpopular entrant, but for me the most powerful indicator of B2B-rand love. Let’s take iPhones. In the 2010s I must have listened to countless small business owners explain how what really mattered to them in work mobiles was productivity functionality for a good price… only to reveal that they give all their employees iPhones (a very expensive and arguably one of the lowest functionality to price ratio handsets on the market). Why? Because it means we’ve made it. We’re legit*. Going into a client meeting – the first thing I do is take my iPhone out and put it on the table. Want to attract new employees – we give all our colleagues the latest iPhone. That smug feeling you get – that’s brand love.

[*Interestingly, the ‘smugness dynamic’ is now shifting towards Android devices: compared to those technophobes with their simplistic iPhones, our staff are tech-savvy Android users].

So, can you create B2B-rand love? Absolutely. Comfort, excite, or, if possible, go for smugness.

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