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McKinsey-B2B-Companies-Brand-Imaging-Oct2013A newly-released and intriguing analysis from McKinsey suggests that there’s a big disconnect between the core brand messages most emphasized by B2B companies and the characteristics that are most valued by their customers. For example, while top global B2B companies appear to be accentuating themes such as corporate social responsibility and global reach, executives see little value to these themes when evaluating the brand strength of their primary and secondary suppliers, instead more interested in topics such as open dialogue, supply chain management and specialist expertise.

The researchers analyzed publicly available documents from Fortune 500 and DAX 30 companies to produce a list of 13 themes used by these companies to position their brands. From there, they assessed the top 90 global B2B companies by 2012 market cap from 6 sectors to see how the public documents of those companies aligned with those themes.

In order to evaluate customer perspectives of those themes, McKinsey analyzed results from a survey it conducted last year among more than 700 global executives working in the 6 sectors, asking them how important each theme was to their evaluation of brand strength. A multiple regression analysis to see the extent to which the theme influenced the correlation, and voilà, the results.

Those results suggest that aside from the above-mentioned topics, B2B companies’ focus on themes such as “shapes the direction of the market,” “promotes diversity and equal opportunity” and “is a driver of innovation” have little to no contribution to perceived brand strength. Interestingly, one of the more highly correlated themes for buyers is “fits in well with my values and beliefs.” Recent research suggests that perceived personal value has twice the impact of perceived business value for buyers across a range of business outcomes.

A lot for B2B content marketers to think about when crafting their messaging.

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