The term Business-to-Business brand (abbreviated: B2B brand or B-to-B brand) describes brands for industrial and capital goods, machines for instance.
Unlike a Business-to-Consumer brand (B2C brand), the brand's target group is not the end consumer but companies of the processing industry (with a few exceptions, for example Intel). Some of the best-known types of B2B brands are company brands such as Hilti, Festo, Siemens, General Electric, or IBM. Countless technology brands are B2B brands, as are so-called ingredient brands like Intel or GORE: They try to convey their relevance for the end customer across value chains. Such brands sell their products to processing enterprises which in turn advertise that they integrate these brands in their products ("Intel Inside"). The goal is to make the product more attractive.
Because negotiations in the B2B segment are primarily with purchasers or corporate buyers, it is often assumed that decisions are made mainly on the basis of price. However, various studies – among them the first study examining brand management in the B2B sector – have shown that buyers indeed apply other purchasing criteria: security, simplicity, and their personal relationship with the seller.
Sellers often underestimate the security function of a brand. As a consequence, brand management was considered to be an unnecessary management discipline in the B2B sector right into the new millennium. Even today, a number of preconceptions still persist that hamper brand management in the B2B environment. The most common of these are:
- Preconception 1: Brand management is the same as marketing. It is implemented by the marketing department or advertising agencies.
- Preconception 2: A good product sells itself, so it doesn't need a brand.
- Preconception3: Function and facts are the decisive criteria for purchasing decisions.
Because of increased competition (for instance from foreign providers), market saturation, and increasing price pressure, more and more B2B companies are realizing that the brand plays a major part in the organization's success and therefore strive to engage in professional and systematic brand management.