Building Brands in the Business-to-Business Context
Cisco is a global leader in supplying networking equipment. Cisco’s vision is to connect more people using modern networking technologies. The company uses different strategies to communicate with its customers. Cisco builds its brands depending on the changing expectations of its consumers. The company creates its brands in a business-to-business context (Kotler & Keller, 2012). According to Kotler and Keller (2012, p. 58), “the idea to build brands in a business-to-business context differs from doing so in the consumer context”.
In business-to-business branding, the company creates strong connections with other companies other than direct customers (Srivastava, 2010). This creates a strong partnership between business partners. The company should also create strong relationships with targeted business partners. The other difference is that the marketer should be patient. This is necessary because the marketer should educate his or her customers about the benefits, uses, and implications of the brand. The company also targets “professional customers who understand the use and importance of the brands” (Keller & Lehmann, 2006, p. 746). Different aspects, such as demand and price, do not influence the decisions made by these professional buyers. The company should have simplified supply chain strategies in order to meet the demands of its business partners.
The other difference is that the marketer does not communicate directly to the end-user (or consumer). The company markets its services and products to other partners. The company also comes up with new products as specified by their business partners. The company will achieve its profits after the business partner markets the services or products to its consumers. Business-to-business brands have small markets. The success of this branding strategy depends on “the effectiveness of the other companies in the partnership” (Roberts & Merrilees, 2007, p. 425). This establishes long-term business partnerships, thus making the marketing process successful.
The success of business-to-business branding depends on the ability to adjust in accordance with market changes (Srivastava, 2010). Branding in the business-to-consumer context succeeds if the company produces acceptable products or services. Business-to-business branding depends on organizational relationships. Cisco has used this branding practice to establish new partnerships with other companies. Cisco Systems has developed new relationships with companies such as Matsushita and Sony (Srivastava, 2010). Building a brand in the business-to-consumer context focuses mainly on the expectations of the customer. This is different when building a brand in a business-to-business context because the company markets its customized products to other companies.
Is Cisco’s Plan Viable?
Cisco’s plan to reach out to different business partners and consumers is viable. The company’s history explains why it uses the best plan to address the needs of its consumers. Cisco had become a successful firm towards the end of the 20th century (Kotler & Keller, 2012). The company decided to establish new partnerships with Matsushita and Sony to co-brand its modems with the Cisco logo (Kotler & Keller, 2012). Cisco continues to embrace different branding practices in order to achieve its targets. These two approaches ensure the company attracts and maintains more consumers.
Cisco acquired Linksys in 2003. This move made it is easier for Cisco to provide better networking solutions to its consumers. The company also provides home entertainment solutions to its new customers. Cisco is currently using new marketing and advertising practices in order to increase its sales (Srivastava, 2010). For example, The Human Network campaign has “humanized Cisco thus making it a leading marketer and provider of networking solutions” (Kotler & Keller, 2012, p. 57). The company’s marketing initiative continues to attract more customers. The current approach has made it easier for Cisco Systems to achieve its business goals. This explains why Cisco is doing more than just supplying switches and routers.
According to Kotler and Keller (2012), Cisco has devised new ways to attract and retain more customers. A good example is the famous Cisco Connected Sports strategy. This business strategy continues to transform many arenas into interactive spots (Kotler & Keller, 2012). Cisco’s partnerships and acquisitions make its branding practice successful. The company creates new products and brands that help other companies serve their customers well. The strategy is also sustainable because Cisco collaborates with every leading company in the technology industry. Some of these companies include Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, and IBM (Kotler & Keller, 2012). This strategy explains why Cisco has continued to attract more customers.
Cisco is currently “expanding its business into new markets” (Kotler & Keller, 2012, p. 58). The company is also promoting new business collaborations. The company targets to provide software, computer servers, and electronics to more customers in the future. This goal explains why the demand for Cisco’s hardware and software solutions is on the rise. The company retains its competitive edge by reaching out to more business partners and consumers. The company’s use of different social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook will make it a leading player in the industry.
Keller, K., & Lehmann, D. (2006). Brands and Branding: Research Findings and Future Priorities. Marketing Science, 25(6), 740-759.
Kotler, P., & Keller, K. (2012). Marketing Management. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Roberts, J., & Merrilees, B. (2007). Multiple Roles of Brands in Business-to-Business Services. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 22(6), 410-417.
Srivastava, R. (2010). Understanding Brand Confusion. Marketing Intelligence and Planning, 29(4), pp. 340-352.