Nick Hague
Nick Hague

November 14, 2017

An email landed in my inbox last week which started with:

“From today Vodafone will be changing our brand positioning for the first time in eight years from ‘Power to you’ to ‘The future Is exciting. Ready?’”.

It certainly caught my attention, and as a researcher I couldn’t help but wonder why the change had been made and the background behind it.

The email went on to say:

“As you know, our industry and business is going through significant changes that will expand the number of digital services people use, ultimately changing way we live in a positive way.”

“We have undertaken extensive research which shows that people across our markets believe that the way that technology is evolving to enable them to connect makes the future exciting, but a little bit unknown. We want to invite consumers and enterprises to benefit from new, exciting technologies and to promise to be their partner during this journey.”

The explanation made sense and was based on research so I’m sure it will resonate with target audiences.

This got me thinking about brand positioning and in particular the role that taglines play in b2b markets.

B2b markets are typically made up of more commoditised products than consumer markets. This means taglines and brand positioning could become even more powerful in terms of differentiation.

The amount of brands taking up space in our minds makes it difficult to remember each and every one, and taglines serve as a useful way of ‘cutting through the noise’ and standing out.

Taglines also help to sell the key benefit to customers, as well as helping to communicate positive feelings and attitudes towards the brand. After all, it’s important to remember that b2b buyers use emotional factors as well as rational factors when making decisions.

In fact, a study by CEB and Google found that b2b buyers are twice as likely to consider a brand that communicates personal value over business value. Is this because the majority of b2b brands just aren’t differentiated enough?

Take 10 seconds to think about taglines and I bet the first ones that come to mind are consumer brands. The first three that came to me were Audi with ‘Vorsprung durch technik’, MasterCard with ‘There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard’, and Nike with ‘Just Do It’.

Are b2b brands missing the opportunity to stand out in our minds? While it is true that the advertising budgets of Nike, Audi and MasterCard dwarf those of b2b brands, surely brands are much more than a logo or strapline anyway? Brands should symbolise the identity of a company and communicate a consistent set of values that it believes in. Isn’t this enough to create differentiation?

B2B International has recently decided to drop its tagline ‘Beyond Knowledge’. It’s the first time that we’ve gone without a tagline, having previously used ‘We Understand Your World’ before the most recent iteration. Why was the change made? We felt it cluttered our brand identity rather than helped it.

Where do you stand on taglines and brand positioning in b2b markets? How important and valuable are they? Are we right to remove our tagline?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.