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The School of Industrial Organisation (EOI) and the Leading Spanish Brands Forum (FMRE) presented on 29 November the book ‘Brands in the Internationalisation of the B2B Company’, which received support from ICEX and the work for which was developed by Opinno Ideas.

The book reflects the importance of the brand in the process of expansion of companies and analyses the keys to the success of international management of the brand for B2B (Business to Business) companies through practical case studies of fifteen successful international Spanish businesses: Abertis, AENOR, Arco, Auditel, Cosentino, Ega Máster, Grupo Eulen, Fermax, Fira Barcelona, Gas Natural Fenosa, GMV, Iberdrola, Kalam, Ramondín and Televés.

The study analyses the characteristics of B2B markets, how their selling and purchasing processes work and what factors are decisive when it comes to choosing a product or service. In order to do this, the Opinno team analysed articles and publications on the matter and interviewed experts such as Cristina Vicedo, Director General of Future Brand Spain, Julio Cerviño, tutor of Commercialisation and Market Research at the Carlos III University, and Gabriela Salinas, Global Brand Manager for Deloitte, as well as the leaders of ICEX in the industrial and technological sectors. Cristina Vicedo firmly believes that B2B brands are no different from B2C brands, and she even states that brand is more important in a B2B context than in a B2C one: “Brands are emotions that persuade and mobilise their target audiences, whatever these are. Companies are made up of people and the trade relations between them are also undertaken by people, and people have emotions.” Julio Cerviño talked along the same lines, stressing that “brands allow the identification and projection of the values of a company or organisation, its products or services, how they differ from those of the competition, reflecting how it is organised and, well managed, they trigger an emotional connection and feeling of trust with customers, fostering loyalty in the target audience, as well as minimising risk and therefore obtaining sustainable cash flow over time.” Gabriela Salinas, meanwhile, addresses the idea of brand as a confidence builder: “Confidence used to be a hygiene factor, an attribute at the base of the pyramid. Today it have become a differentiating factor.”

For the development of the case studies, in-depth interviews were carried out with directors of Brand, Marketing, Communication and Internationalisation from the companies analysed. Miguel Ángel Martínez Olagüe, Director of Marketing and Development at GMV indicates that “brand building is delivering value at every interaction with the customer, meeting by meeting” and highlights that “in a B2B company context brands build trust and legitimise the decider. It is common for the decision maker to prefer to choose to minimise their personal risk within the organisation and prefer “to make a mistake” with a worse deal with someone who is well known than to risk making a better deal with someone who is not well known.”  Santiago Alfonso, Director of Marketing for Cosentino, affirms that “the three vectors of success are: innovation, internationalisation and brand management,” precisely the pillars on which the Brand Forum work is based.  Luis Gómez, Director of Brand and Reputation for Iberdrola, goes further and says that “we have moved from marketing to branding: everything we do revolves around generating brand value.”

The conclusions of the book offer the following lessons:

  • Brand is a competitive element in B2B and B2G environments as much as it is in B2C contexts.
  • The attributes of the greatest value for customers in industrial purchasing processes are: product, augmented services and branding
  • Brand is an asset for competitiveness that combines company values and differentiation and serves as a guarantee for quality and service
  • Branding also generates trust and legitimises the decision to purchase
  • Brand incorporates physical attributes and emotional values to allow them to generate a sensitive and sustainable advantage over competitors
  • Coherence and consistency are fundamental attributes
  • In the industrial environment brand value is established in the “customer relations” process which is what in the end generates the brand experience and the concept of reputation
  • It is necessary to design a brand architecture in line with the company’s strategic positioning
  • The complexity of B2B markets makes the human element much more present, transforming it into a much more influential factor than it may first seem
  • The complexity and importance of its management is greater as a result of globalisation, the productive dislocation of companies, homogenisation of the offer and the exponential growth of digital communications
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