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The vast majority (87%) of B2B companies have increased their brand investments over the past 5 years, with most (82%) of those seeing those investments pay off, most commonly in the form of increased sales and customer acquisition. That’s according to a recent report [download page] from Spencer Brenneman LLC, which also found virtually all (97%) respondents allocating some resources to brand research.

Among those conducting brand-related research, half do so continuously and another 40% do so twice a year. Interestingly, respondents conducting brand research continually reported above-average rates of improvements in various goals including inbound and outbound marketing impact and sales pipeline.

The most common brand research methods employed by respondents are customer and client surveys and market research, with fewer delving into social media analytics, focus groups, or SEO analytics.

Brand “Ingredients”

The study – which is based on a survey of 150 B2B marketing executives with responsibility or expertise in brand strategy – examined the perceived importance of brand toolkit elements.

Among the three identified, respondents were most likely to feel that product naming was “very important,” cited by close to three-quarters (73%). Nonetheless, a majority also feel that visual identity (68%) and verbal identity (64%) are very important.

Notably, only a slight majority (56%) reported having a verbal identity in place, though almost 8 in 10 felt that having one provides a significant competitive differentiation.

Most Common Brand Metrics

The most popular metrics used for brand investments are shareholder value and inbound marketing impact, each by roughly 62% of respondents. Close behind, outbound marketing impact (55%) and the overall size of the sales pipeline (54%) are also measured by a majority of respondents.

Brand strategy, meanwhile, is perceived to have its largest impact on outbound marketing, with 65% saying it has a “very positive” impact. The impact on shareholder value, inbound marketing and sales pipeline is also considered “very important” by a slight majority. And while fewer see a “very positive” effect on the length of the sales cycle or on talent management, a strong majority overall see at least some positive impact from brand strategy in these areas.

Respondents’ expectations differ, though, when it comes to the benefits of increased budgets. Among the 81% who plan to grow their brand strategy spending in the next 5 years, a leading 26% expect the greatest improvement to be for their inbound marketing. The next-most cited payoff is in shareholder value (22%), followed by sales pipeline (20%) and outbound marketing (19%).

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 150 B2B marketing executives who are the owners of brand strategy or who consider themselves experts in this area for their organizations. CMOs and brand managers made up the majority of the respondents, at 39.3% and 37.3% respectively. The remainder of the respondents were marketing or branding vice presidents.

Companies of various sizes were included, ranging from $10-20 million in revenue to some with more than $100 million. It was a relatively even split between public and private firms (48.7% and 51.3% respectively) and the majority have an international presence (61.3%).

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