• Rick Julian

B2B Branding Myth: B2B Psychology is Different


In their offices or in their homes, people are people.


I’m consistently struck by the absurdity of the notion that “industrial buyers are unaffected by the emotional values corresponding to brands“.

There simply is no psychological research that substantively documents this notion, yet this myth is foundational to the practice of the majority of B2B branding in the marketplace, and is, I believe, one of the fundamental reasons why most B2B branding performs poorly–in a way that leads to the self-fulfilling prophecy that B2B branding doesn’t work.

When one assumes that the B2B buyer enters a hyper-rational mode that eliminates emotional influencers from a purchasing decision, and then creates brand strategy and creative execution based on this premise, the resulting output is assets (print ads, websites, collateral, trade booths, etc.) that are dull and  conceptually uninteresting, and which violate many of the principles of effective branding, and the science that supports it.

One of the challenges B2B marketing executives face is a lack of dedicated research into the psychology of the B2B buyer. As the practice and sophistication of B2B branding continues to grow, this issue will be resolved. In the meantime, let’s use common sense:

Ask yourself which human emotion you haven’t seen displayed by yourself and your colleagues over the course of your career while in your workplace environment. Most of us have seen the gamut–from laughter to tears, from the seven deadly sins to the most noble displays of character. And in exactly the same proportion as we see it in our non-business lives.

Do you truly believe people turn off their “human psychology” and enter a “business psychology” once they enter their offices? Have you ever truly observed a business decision that wasn’t influenced in some large or small way by emotional factors: “I just like this company better”, “I have more confidence in this sales rep”, “I enjoy working with their support team”, “I feel they’ll take better care of us after the sale” . . . ?

B2B buying decision are not just about pricing and feature/function sets–they’re also influenced by emotion, because at all times, and in all places, people are emotional creatures.

Be bold and prosper.

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