Marketing gurus press need for b-to-b branding

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Chicago—There’s a pressing need for b-to-b marketers to embrace branding strategies, according to the co-authors of the new book “B2B Brand Management.”

Northwestern University marketing professor Philip Kotler and Waldemar Pfoertsch of Germany’s Pforzheim University introduced the book at a press conference Thursday at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, saying it’s time for b-to-b marketers to step up to the branding challenge.

Kotler said that nearly 30 years ago, the first edition of his textbook “Marketing Management” (now in its 12th edition) devoted only a page and a half to branding strategies. “Back then it was about naming your company, maybe adding a tagline,” he said. “Now, there are hundreds of books devoted to branding consumer goods.”

The competitive climate has changed, yet many b-to-b companies have not, according to the Kotler and Pfoertsch.

“Many companies are driven by their technology, relying on the knowledge they have and the need for their market,” Pfoertsch said. “But things have moved. Competition is stiff.”

The question now, he said, isn’t just “who do you need?” but “who do you trust?”

The thrust of “B2B Brand Management” is that brand investment has become vital on both the corporate and product levels. The authors note that over the last five years companies with higher than average brand development are up 30% in market capitalization compared with those with below average brand development—a spread that’s expected to grow wider.

The book provides numerous case studies, including FedEx, Samsung and Lenovo, that demonstrate different approaches to branding as well as potential pitfalls.

—Katherine Hand

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