Strong B2B brands drive value more consistently than B2C brands

For the first time this year Millward Brown has included a business-to-business ranking in the BrandZ report. It classes B2B companies as those that generate the majority of their revenues from the B2B part of the brand.


Microsoft takes the number one spot, followed by IBM, Wells Fargo, GE and UPS, which make up the top five. The real story is the consistency of the value generated by B2B brands and the blurred lines with the business-to-consumer (B2C) sector. SAP, Accenture, HP, HSBC and Oracle make up the rest of the top 10.

B2B brands tend to be more consistent in terms of brand value. Looking at the top 20 B2B brands many have stayed in the B2B ranking over ten years, in fact 14 of the brands in the B2B ranking in 2006 are still in it today and all 20 of the B2B brands from last year are in the B2B ranking in 2016.

Looking at the top 20 B2C brands separately, only eight that were in the top 20 B2C ranking in 2006 are there today and 16 B2C brands from 2015 remain in the top 20 this year.

The top 20 ranking, put together in partnership with LinkedIn, was published this year because of the “increased convergence we are seeing between B2B and B2C brands as businesses start to pay serious attention to their brands,” says Peter Walshe, global BrandZ director at Millward Brown. “[They are] recognising that this has helped their B2C counterparts achieve significant value increases.”

Walshe adds: “If you think of workplaces where BlackBerry was a major force, the consumer desire for the brand was driven out of the B2B arena. Vice versa, the consumer pull for Apple has pushed B2B people and companies into supplying Apple products for their workforces.”

There is increasing confusion between B2B and B2C brands, particularly as home and work lives connect. Jane Bloomfield, head of sales and marketing at Millward Brown, says: “People work from home and you don’t want to work on something in one place and switch it all to another [operating system or device]. People want fluidity.”

She adds: “It’s about how you use technology in the B2C brands that are driven by consumer needs and offer it in B2B. We might see more B2C brands creeping into our B2B lives as that becomes fluid and there is an advantage to the B2B brands to do it the other way round.”


Suggested reading May 2016: a digest of new marketing literature

Mindi Chahal

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