brand philosophy

The theoretical background

Dr. Jürgen Kütemeyer and Daniel Szkutnik are men of conviction. They share the firm belief that the emotional aspect is missing from brand management, not just in some consumer segments but also in B2B. This is why the two marketing experts have developed a new way of working that synchronizes brands, people, and media: brandsync®. This methodology brings the latest research results from the world of neuro- and cognitive science together with over 20 years of practical experience working with corporations and medium-sized businesses. In an interview, Dr. Jürgen Kütemeyer and Daniel Szkutnik explain what these scientific fields have to do with B2B, and how the brain’s autopilot relates to marketing practice.

The interview

Dr. Kütemeyer, you advocate greater emotional content in B2B communication. Do emotions really belong here?

Dr. Jürgen Kütemeyer:
We are always confronted with emotions in every situation, so it follows that there can be no business without emotions. And it is also the case that there are no target groups, either in B2C or B2B, that do not have an emotional viewpoint. It is only by understanding how to embed brand performance promises, brand positioning, and brand staging in the context of subconscious emotional thought and value systems that it is possible to achieve the foundation for long-term brand success.”

That sounds like the „more brand“ principle, which has been used in the B2B sector for a long time, hasn’t it?

Dr. Jürgen Kütemeyer:
Yes, that’s right, but that’s not the whole story. After all, the approach of restricting brands to only familiar rational brand values such as quality or innovation, linking everything via a coherent design, and then adapting this across the brand touchpoints has not been effective in B2B for a while. The challenges have become more complex: new brand touchpoints have been added in recent years. What is the best way of handling different perceptions of the defined brand messages at the individual brand touchpoints? And how can brand touchpoints be evaluated and rated in terms of their emotional significance within the communication mix? The industry is aware of these issues – it is well ahead of many agencies in this area – and is increasing its efforts to incorporate the latest findings of marketing research in its work. And these findings have most recently come from the fields of neuro- and cognitive science in particular.”

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Such as?

Dr. Jürgen Kütemeyer:
The focus has been on the emotionalisation of brands. And this also applies to B2B, in which the digital world plays a special role. It is important to focus attention on the emotional mindset of the brand ambassadors on the one hand and that of the target groups on the other. A brand strategy based on these findings is more engaging, more easily implemented, and more accessible. And it establishes common brand knowledge across all brand touchpoints, which cannot be achieved by means of the “more brand” mantra alone. In fact, many of those responsible for brands are aware of this but have not yet been able to implement these findings properly.

Why has it been necessary to draw on neuro- and cognitive science?

Daniel Szkutnik:
Science helps us to gain an in-depth understanding of brand communication in terms of emotional drivers and to optimise it on this basis – rather than following a purely rational or largely technical approach. The increase in emotional branding starts within the company itself, namely with the question: is the brand message emotionally accessible and experienced uniformly by everyone involved in the branding process? Brand positioning can only be consistently staged across all communication channels through to the customer when it follows this coherent approach.

If there are disagreements between marketing, development, and sales over a company’s emotional brand positioning or – which is by no means uncommon – if major differences exist, even the best brand strategy can only develop its potential to a limited extent.

For further reading:

Marketing Review St. Gallen (2/2013): 
“Schnittstellenmanagement zwischen Marketing und Verkauf im B2B-Geschäft bei Castrol” (Interface management between marketing and sales in B2B transactions at Castrol).

What do sales and product development have to do with brand positioning?

Dr. Jürgen Kütemeyer:
These two key corporate departments are naturally heavily involved in the branding process. They either develop the products in-house and know them in great detail, or they must sell them in face-to-face meetings and therefore introduce the customer perspective. Yet, in B2B, these departments often understand a brand very differently. The fact is that sales represents one of the most important brand touchpoints in B2B.

Who will determine the success of a corporate brand in the future?

Daniel Szkutnik:
In medium-sized companies in particular, we encounter the same attitude time and time again: the sales department understands the customers and is responsible for success, while the marketing department costs money and should “only” increase brand awareness and prepare marketing documentation. The brand story is interpreted by sales employees in a way that they personally believe is correct and in a way that they believe will help them to “sell” the easiest. In short, different people view the same brand in different ways. This is why the subject of brand synchronisation is so important. It is key to the success of a brand that its emotional brand story is perceived in the same way. Sales and marketing functions need to pool their expertise. We have also developed the brandsync® methodology for this purpose. We bring the perception of the emotional branding of all those responsible in the company to the same level.

Buyers and emotions – surely that's only outside of work?

Dr. Jürgen Kütemeyer:
Unfortunately, this is exactly what many marketing and sales managers believe. However, our experience and the latest findings from cognitive and neuroscience show that even highly complex product or brand decisions are always made on an emotional basis. Who hasn’t experienced losing out to the competition despite having a superior product and a better price?

Was it possible to find a rational explanation for this or did the customer’s subconscious emotional decisions thwart your carefully calculated value proposition? Several studies have verified the massive impact of emotions on purchasing decisions. For example, Haehnel’s study in 2010 stated that emotions even apply to buying centres, where you would assume they really do not play a role.

For further reading:

Christin Haehnel:
Emotionen bei Buying-Center-Entscheidungen (Emotions in buying center decisions), Gabler Verlag.

Daniel Szkutnik:
It’s also important to realise that, according to the findings of the behavioural economist and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahnemann, thoughts, including those of buyers, are split into two systems: on the one hand, the conscious and explicit, and, on the other hand, the subconscious and implicit. In other words: pilot and autopilot. The autopilot works at an entirely emotional level – it is the filter through which we perceive our environment and, therefore, it also filters our decisions. The autopilot within us seeks out information to which its reward system reacts emotionally. An emotional brand strategy, like the one we define and implement with brandsync®, must, therefore, start by aligning brand strategies and brand messages with the reward systems. In short, whoever rewards is rewarded.

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How does brandsync® work?

Dr. Jürgen Kütemeyer:
brandsync® is a unique working methodology for emotional brand management, in which we use an interdisciplinary approach to incorporate findings from neuro- and cognitive science in particular as well as our experience of more than 20 years of brand communication. The methodology combines conventional marketing procedures with various scientific models, including the Zurich Model of Social Motivation with its specific emotion and motivation characteristics.

This model makes a distinction between the three major emotional fields of autonomy, safety, and excitement, from which various typologies derive their value systems. This scientific approach forms the basis for brandsync®.

For further reading:

Norbert Bischof:
Psychologie: Ein Grundkurs für Anspruchsvolle (Psychology: An introduction for the discerning reader), Kohlhammer.

What is the result of the brand synchronisation process?

Daniel Szkutnik:
“We take a step-by-step approach. In the first step, our customers discover their own style of emotional thought with their own value system and their own reward types. The second step looks at the reward types of others, that is target groups, who take part in a survey. In our experience, participants are very willing, because they gain a large amount of knowledge in the process. This provides us with a strong foundation on which we—in combination with the rational brand analysis models—can establish a brand profile. The result is the ‘SyncProfile,’ which is used to show how the positioning, performance promises, staging, and external perception of a brand relate to one another.”

Isn’t this the same as in B2C?

Dr. Jürgen Kütemeyer:
Not quite. In B2B, it is crucial that we do not align brand positioning with target group clusters. We must always be aware that our target groups or buying centres do not have a uniform way of thinking to which we can match our emotional brand strategy. brandsync® makes it possible to stage the brand positioning differently according to the brand touchpoint, that is by adjusting it to the target groups' style of emotional thought. It is vital to maintain unambiguous brand positioning. It is no longer feasible to simply modify a campaign theme to suit all brand touchpoints, where brand staging is now, unfortunately, all too often outdated.

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The neuro perspective

Answers from neuroscience to the most important marketing questions

In Die Neuro-Perspektive (The Neuro Perspective), author Benny B. Briesemeister describes how findings from neuroscience can be used to create sound marketing. In the same book, the directors of brandsync® AG, Dr Jürgen Kütemeyer and Daniel Szkutnik, also explain the role played by emotions in the purchasing decisions of B2B buying centres.

 

  • Benny B. Briesemeister (Hrsg.): Die Neuro-Perspektive. Neurowissenschaftliche Antworten auf die wichtigsten Marketingfragen.
  • Haufe-Lexware
  • ISBN: 978-3648079751
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brandsync® magazines

Additional scientific and practical information

The magazines in the brandsync® series relate news from the world of science and report on the transfer of the latest findings to B2B marketing.

  • brandsync AG

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