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Are you a B2B company, putting (or considering putting) significant effort and significant resources into developing a coherent brand for your product? Researching the marketplace and analyzing competing brands? Establishing strategy sessions to review and select the best brand identity?

If you are, you're probably wasting a lot of time and a lot of money. For the majority of B2B companies, branding is very likely of little or no value.

What, after all, is the purpose of branding? Here's my definition:

Branding is a way of helping non-knowledgeable customers make a low-risk buying decision for a commodity product with little inherent differentiation.

You know, like laundry detergent. There is no inherent differentiation between Tide and Cheer and Downy (all Proctor and Gamble brands). So P&G—the master of brand management—creates brands to reach market segments. And they promote the brands at significant expense.

Now, when customers walk into the market, they head over to the detergent shelf, spot their brand by the packaging and logo, plop it into their shopping carts and move on to the dog food. If you stop them at that point and ask things like, "What are those little green crystals?" or "Why does Downy make your clothes smell fresher than Tide?" I daresay you're not going to get much of an answer.

That's branding at its most effective.

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image of Michael Fischler

Michael Fischler is founder and principal coach and consultant of Markitek (markitek.com), which for over a decade has provided marketing consulting and coaching services to companies around the world, from startups and SMEs to giants like Kodak and Pirelli. You can contact him by clicking here.