Microsoft is the most valuable business-to-business brand in the world, according to BrandZ's first-ever ranking of the Top 20 Most Valuable B2B Brands, released today by WPP and Millward Brown, in partnership with LinkedIn.
Microsoft, whose brand value is estimated at $121.8 billion in the report, is No. 3 on BrandZ's Top 100 Global Brands report, which includes b-to-b and b-to-c companies.
"Microsoft operates in so many different categories that it is almost impossible for businesses not to use some product from the company," said Nigel Hollis, executive VP-chief global analyst at Millward Brown.
"The fact that the company plays in both the b-to-b and b-to-c space is a big advantage," he added. "For small and medium-sized businesses, trust and a sense that the product will not let them down is hugely important."
IBM is No. 2 on the B2B Brands list, with a brand value of $86.2 billion, and ranks No. 10 on the Top 100 list of most valuable brands.
The No. 3 b-to-b brand is Wells Fargo (which ranks No. 14 on the Top 100 list), No. 4 is GE (No. 16 on the Top 100), and No. 5 is UPS (No. 17 on the Top 100).
"Obviously, there is huge overlap between b-to-b and b-to-c for many of these brands," Mr. Hollis said. "While the purchase dynamics differ between b-to-b and b-to-c, our research finds that there are commonalities when it comes to what makes a strong brand. The companies that innovate in ways that their customers find to be meaningfully different are the ones that grow fastest."
He said b-to-b brands do face some unique challenges.
"The biggest challenge facing any b-to-b marketer is the ability to reach their target audience. It is not just a matter of what media channel to use -- it is how to get attention when your audience is running hard to keep up and has little time to absorb new information. That is why content marketing is so important," Mr. Hollis said. "If you can ensure that you have content that is relevant to challenges your customer faces, and you can make it easily findable when they need it, then it can have far more influence than unsolicited emails or behaviorally targeted display ads."
The full ranking is below: