Branding is an ongoing source of discussion and disagreement in aerospace marketing, according to our recent industry surveys.
While some say they spend a lot of time and effort building their brand, far too many say that investing in branding is a waste of time and money.
As we enter into a month-long examination of aerospace industry branding, we start by tackling these 5 myths that are holding us back from better branding, better marketing and better results.
Myth No. 1: Branding is a waste of money.
Really? Consider this.
Valued at $121.8 billion, Microsoft’s B2B brand is the most valuable in the world. Siemens, a company with strong interests in aerospace, ranks at No. 20 with a value of $12.4 billion. Read more here.
But there’s more. A McKinsey study of B2B brands shows that companies with brands that are perceived as strong generate a higher EBIT margin than others.
In fact, strong brands outperform weak brands by 20 percent. A Forbes article, “Why B-To-B Branding Matters More than You Think,” cited the example of pump manufacturer Gardner Denver, reporting that the company attributes 43 percent of its value to be goodwill and other intangible assets.
This is consistent with our experience and our research. In one engagement, our client research showed that although two direct competitors had virtually identical ratings for factors like product quality and reliability, respondents were twice as likely to buy from the one with a large, well established brand name. When all other factors were equal, the best brand won.
Myth No. 2: Branding is only for consumer companies and has no bearing on a customer’s decision-making process. People will buy from us if we provide good products and competitive prices.
We hear this a lot. But the Forbes article reports that B2B brands are actually more important than B2C brands because B2B purchases matter more. “Buy the wrong toothpaste, and you can always change brands when the tube runs out. Buy the wrong turbine and you could hurt your company’s earnings for years – and find yourself looking for another job.”
Trust is paramount in our industry, and is a critical factor in any B2B buying decision. But you can’t sell trust by telling people you are trustworthy in an ad or a brochure. They have to feel it — and that happens through a clear and consistent brand experience.
Myth No. 3: My brand is my logo and tagline.
Your logo (and tagline if you have one) is an incredibly important part of your brand, but it’s only one element. Logos serve as a kind of visual shorthand for your business to help customers immediately identify and recall who you are and what you do.
Branding is also not synonymous with marketing. Marketing certainly contributes to a brand, but like the logo example, it is one small part of a much larger whole.
Writing for the Tronvig Group, James Heaton defines branding as “the expression of the essential truth or value of an organization, product, or service. It is communication of characteristics, values, and attributes that clarify what this particular brand is and is not.”
Heaton nails it, especially when he says this. “A brand will help encourage someone to buy a product, and it directly supports whatever sales or marketing activities are in play, but the brand does not explicitly say, “buy me.” Instead, it says, “This is what I am. This is why I exist. If you agree, if you like me, you can buy me, support me, and recommend me to your friends.”
As we tell our clients, a solid brand and strategic marketing program won’t make the sale, but they will create an environment conducive to making the sale.
Myth No. 4: Branding is for big companies with big budgets.
Once upon a time this may have been true. Building an aerospace brand has traditionally relied largely, but not exclusively, on advertising.
But advertising is expensive and it can be challenging to show a return on the investment made. For those who aren’t in a position to advertise, social media is a great and affordable tool for defining and building your brand, all while interacting with your audience and giving them a feel for who you are.
At a time when many aerospace businesses look and sound alike, small companies, especially, can leverage branding to set themselves apart from competitors, get noticed and be remembered!
For more ideas and inspiration, see how several B2B businesses, including GE and Maersk Line, are successfully using social media to build their brands.
Myth No. 5: Brands appeal to emotional buyers. B2B buyers make rational decisions.
B2B buyers are people. And people have emotions. Marketo makes the case that because B2B buyers are overwhelmed by information they use heuristics (a simple and efficient emotional shorthand used in decision-making). In fact, “whether or not the buyer realizes it, the decision is often made long before the buying process is completed. When this happens, even subconsciously, much of the buying process ends up being an effort to justify the initial emotional decision. B2B marketers can and should tap into this by appealing to the emotional side of their prospects, as well as their rational side. This is where branding comes in.”
Does your business believe in branding? Do they invest in it? Why or why not?
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