B2B branding is more important than consumer?

Superbrands uses B2B polling to establish most respected business brands in Singapore

Superbrands has been recognising the best local and international brands in 80 countries worldwide, and the Business Superbrands award was introduced to identify high quality brands operating predominantly in the B2B space. Having previously used panels of experts to judge brands within various B2B categories, in 2012 embarked on its first polling of B2B decision-makers in Singapore to obtain ‘popularity rankings’ among a wider group of B2B categories.

While consumers come into contact with many common categories, e.g. mobile phones, soft drinks, hair care, etc, the challenges faced in the B2B sector was the level of fragmentation of the B2B categories. Would one be able to find enough people who purchase subsea cables, for example, to obtain enough votes for a credible poll?

Working with BDRC Asia, Superbrands implemented a B2B survey among people working in SMEs, MNC and local corporations, and Government organisations across Singapore. The survey was conducted among people being “responsible for dontevaluating, purchasing or using business services or business suppliers”.

Piers Lee, Managing Director of BDRC Asia who designed the survey commented,

“Within the survey, we found that the business people influence purchase decisions with, on average, 3.9 different product categories in their organisation, the most common being office equipment (e.g. printers, copiers), software, IT, and telecoms. Business people also influence a range of business support services ranging from financial services, HR, and business information services. While more specialist industrial categories could not be included in the survey, BDRC Asia was able to identify over 20 different B2B categories where enough votes were obtained to generate a ranking based on those brands considered to be ‘well known and respected within their field and have been recognised as achieving the highest level of excellence’”.

Due to high levels of involvement in ICT brands, brands in this category achieved the highest overall rankings including in first place SAP Singapore followed by IBM and Microsoft. Three Singapore home grown brands made it into the Top 10 including SingTel, Singapore Airlines, and Starhub.

Mark Pointer, CEO of Business Superbrands states “When building a brand, establishing and maintaining brand reputation is the single most important factor, and this applies to all brands whether they are consumer focused or B2B brands”.

Pointer continues, “Building strong business brands share common traits: they deliver the value that customers want and expect from them, and they fulfil their business needs. Additionally, building strong business brands helps shorten the buyer decision making process and helps maintain the desired perception of the brand over time. So investing in a strong brand is a very important part of the equation that B2B companies must understand”.

With Singapore being a hub for the region, business people are in contact with and influence purchase decisions on a range of transport and travel related B2B categories, e.g. airlines, hotels, and distribution. Piers Lee comments “As a result of multiple contact points with a wider range of B2B categories, Singapore is an excellent centre for B2B product and service providers to the reputations of their brands over time”.

Jacky Tai, Principle Consultant, StrategiCom comments “Brand reputation is even more important when it comes to B2B companies as B2B products and services tend to be more expensive than consumer ones. Brand reputation is built through two things – credibility (we have done it before) and competence (we know how to do it). More and more B2B companies, local and international, are embarking on building highly differentiated brands to stand out in a hyper-competitive market and more are using specialised communications platforms such as Business Superbrands to get their message across.

Piers Lee from BDRC Asia adds, “Let’s not forget that business decision-makers have a consumer psychology and can be influenced by business branding in a similar way to consumer branding. The vast majority state that the Business Superbrands endorsement provides them reassurances of brand value and product quality and this reinforces the need for business brand owners to enhance their brand identities and B2B product propositions”.

Top performing B2B brands included Citibank (for corporate banking), AIA (for business insurance), Visa (for corporate cards), Ernst & Young (for business support), Kelly Services (for recruitment), Hilton (for corporate hotels), Business Times (for business publications), and Bloomberg (for business information).