The Impact of Brand Images on B2B buying relevance

Aaron Leander Haussmann


Purpose. Despite an increased interest in B2B branding in the last decade, academic research on B2B branding has been slower to emerge which makes this field of marketing a relatively under-researched one. In this context, the purpose of the paper is to investigate the influence of brand images on the perceived buying relevance for B2B customers. Gaining insight into if and how brands play a role in establishing perceived buying relevance is expected to be determining subsequent decision-making processes.

Methodology. Through surveying B2B professionals on their emotional responses on brand stimuli, the emotionality of the respective brands was identified. The methodology used was the Self-Assessment Manikin, a pictorial method to measure emotions which has found various applications in both psychological and marketing-related research. Further, through correlation analyses, a relationship between emotionality and buying relevance was identified. The participants of the survey were professionals and managers working in the railway industry, an industry-branch which is characterized by a high degree of specialization, complexity and long-term business relationships which math the long lifecycles of the equipment subject to purchase or lease.

Results. The main findings were that, unlike former assumptions, B2B brands can vary in emotionality and that emotionality has an impact on perceived buying relevance. Further, the context in which deciders in heavy railway equipment operate has been empirically established.

The theoretical contribution. The research results contribute to a better understanding of the role of brand images in B2B markets, especially in high-risk and high-complexity contexts. The chosen research topic has a high degree of actuality since many investment good markets are increasingly shifting to demand-driven markets where marketers need to gain competitive edge understanding and utilizing intangible, emotional assets and build on their brand equity. This trend is expected to sustain which makes the research topic an interesting and actual one for both marketing scholars and practitioners.  Development of a measurement instrument for brand emotions using proven non-verbal rating scales.   Empirical testing of brand images using real-world industry brands in the railway industry. 
Practical implications. Practitioners in B2B markets should dedicate more attention to how their brand is perceived in general and the emotional side of their brand image in particular as this impacts their market success. Neglecting the role brands play in the B2B market place can lead to negative effects in terms of sales success, while building positive and emotionally touching brand images can have a positive impact.

Keywords: emotions, brand images, B2B marketing.

Paper type: Research paper.


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