While IBM provides software solutions to businesses, elevating its profile among the public seems to be paying off. IBM tops BrandZ’s B2B list with an increase of 17% from last year.
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IBM’s UK brand leader, Kate Pennell, says highlighting how it is present in day-to-day functions and escalating the company’s corporate social responsibility agenda is helping it to earn a place in the hearts of consumers, which in turn gives it greater kudos with business customers.
Pennell says: “We are very much in the fabric of society. We run the backbone of the ATM network and we are behind the systems that enable you to order your driving licence online. That’s all IBM technology.
“It’s important that our clients understand that we are at the heart of innovation, even though people can’t necessarily see our logo.”
IBM’s Smarter Planet strategy, Pennell adds, is about showing how IBM chip technology helps the environment as well as users.
“You could put a chip into the lid of a bottle bank so that, rather than the council collecting the contents every week regardless of whether it’s full or not, they can pick up the contents when the bank is full. This is a simple example but you can see the impact when you multiply that.”
IBM has embarked on a global volunteering initiative to coincide with its centenary, which includes encouraging all employees to do a day’s volunteering and deploying IBM staff to help businesses in developing countries.
Pennell says that this has the additional benefit of helping to attract and retain staff, which can often be a challenge for B2B brands.
“This has all had a positive impact, both internally from a morale perspective and externally in terms of our visibility,” Pennell says.
“There is still some way to go because the challenge that some people think we still make PCs isn’t going to go away overnight.”