My colleague Gordon Graham, a B2B copywriter specializing in marketing software to IT professionals, is not a fan of traditional Madison Avenue branding. He says:
“Certainly ‘branding’ has SOME value in terms of positioning and making any company look like a together, prosperous firm. But real, solid branding has to be earned, not just claimed.
“Example: IBM invented the mainframe category, they threw more resources at it than anyone else for decades, and they delivered. So they earned that position as king of the mountain, the risk-free purchase for IT. So they walked the walk and they talked the talk. And they invested in engineering and sales and support, not in fancy jingles or glossy brochures.
“Today I think B2B companies waste millions of dollars on useless exercises like TV advertising, glossy brochures, insanely expensive logo development, fussing over corporate colors, and packaging — all the busywork that marketing departments and agencies do, that could easily be cancelled — or severely curtailed — with no business repercussions at all. I’ve seen them, I’ve been there.
“That’s why I despair of software executives falling into the clutches of fast-talking agency types who want to ‘re-brand’ and ‘re-position’ and ‘re-strategize’ based on nothing more than their own personal aesthetic intuition, using the same tactics they used for their last client who sold chewing gum.”
What say you, my B2B readers? Is all that glossy marketing puff a waste of time and money when selling to techies? Or is Gordon forgetting that B2B prospets are PEOPLE first — and therefore, influenced by the branding communications he criticizes?