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CASE STUDY: 9 ways to improve your B2B brand story with emotional branding

Case Study - Reson

[CASE STUDY] B2B is rarely considered sexy or even exciting, yet for B2B buyers, great solutions radically improve their day-to-day working environments and hold the potential to make or break their businesses. Why, then, shouldn’t it be possible to create a strong emotional connection with your buyers through B2B marketing and communication? After all, your services or equipment is part and parcel of their professional aspirations, challenges and ultimately their business’s success in the marketplace and beyond.

This case study offers 6 ways to check whether your brand story is off target and 3 takeaways for how to improve your connection to decision makers with emotional branding.

Case Study: What do buyers want?

Perhaps one of the reasons we so rarely see compelling B2B branding is that B2B is often driven by engineers and other technically focused folk. Branding and marketing communications are not top of mind for most engineers, but making well-considered, rational decisions is. And we should all be thankful of that as they put their skills to use in creating innovative products and advanced technologies that the world demands.

However, the people who may want to buy their products need more than facts and performance statistics to make their purchasing decisions. They want to connect to brands that understand their challenges and how their offerings relate to their business needs. Even better, they want to connect to companies that share their aspirations.

Take Danish manufacturer of sonar gear, transducers, and hydrophones RESON. Its technical products might not be inherently interesting, but they are of immense importance to users. There was a time when RESON wasn’t considered as a thought leader or particular involved by its community. The company set out to change that.

What was missing was a powerful brand story that could create consistent and compelling messages. RESON’s Voice of Company was decidedly impersonal so emotional branding was singled out as a way to bring it to life. Research revealed the need for a better understanding of the aspirations and working environments of its customers. Users setting out in harsh sea conditions placed enormous importance on high-quality equipment and being prepared for the worst.

RESON cleverly decided to use this insight to forge a brand story based on the themes of explorers and expeditions. With this brand story, RESON could address its user community as modern-day explorers – the Scotts, Cousteaus and Shackletons of our time. By clearly showing how they understood and shared the customers’ perspectives and aspirations, RESON emerged looking like a market leader by creating the industry’s most powerful Voice of Company.

Want to share the excitement? Below are 9 takeaways from the case study.

Is your brand boring? 6 ways to check whether your brand is off target:

Several specific opportunities for improvement were identified during RESON’s research and transformation:

• There was no clear emotional element to the brand — a key driver of human decision-making.

• The company’s brand DNA was undefined, meaning high costs and low impact when creating marketing campaigns and individual marketing elements.

• The tone and style of the company’s presence, as expressed through its website and marketing materials, was somewhat dated and not that different from its competitors.

• While the company wanted to be seen as a leader, there were few supporting signals other than propaganda-like statements such as “RESON is the world leader…”.

• Marketing messages and materials were company-centric rather than reflecting customer pains and priorities.

3 ways to improve your B2B branding efforts:

So, what were the results of RESON ’s revamped Voice of Company? First, the clarity of the company’s new value proposition has made creating a consistent and on-target content strategy around its messages far easier. Through it all, the new RESON Voice of Company brand story acts both as a source of inspiration as well as virtual glue that keeps all the company’s messages in a clear, logical context no matter where RESON and its products are encountered. At land or sea, users will always find a consistent brand story that relates emotionally to their perspective.

The RESON case study can teach marketers and brands looking to forge emotional connections to buyers several things about emotional branding – for your brand to make an emotional impact with buyers you need to:

• Understand your audience and aim to invoke or target specific emotions in them – your audience’s core emotional need is the most important aspect of emotional branding and has to permeate all your internal and external communications.

• Encourage customers to form an emotional bond to your brand. Start by considering your customers’ needs – what do they want, need and aspire to and be sure to communicate how your brand is a trusted partner in their journey towards fulfilment of those needs.

• Create a content strategy around these insights to deliver consistent communications centred on customers’ emotional needs. Every point of contact should reflect and reinforce the message that the brand is responding to its customers’ emotional needs.


It has to be said that I am not arguing a move back to the old world of branding, where it was only about the story, with little regard to real substance. But I do believe an emotional branding strategy is an essential part of B2B marketing today. A powerful story that gives your audience an emotional incentive and that backs up the truth of your capabilities will help make your offering and its benefits clear and memorable to the right people.

Does emotional branding have any place in B2B marketing? Share your thoughts below!


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David Hoskin

I've helped B2B companies create and implement international marketing and communications strategies since 1999. I've been fortunate enough to work with some great companies and highly talented individuals during the years. But the game's changing fast. Although my aim is always to create pragmatic solutions that produce measurable results, there are always new challenges to overcome. I studied engineering and music and I have an Executive MBA (with Distinction) from Henley Business School, University of Reading (UK). Today, I'm a partner at B2B marketing agency cylindr and BBN International. Here on Integrated B2B, I want to share my personal opinions and perspectives on the changing face of B2B marketing. I hope you join in the conversation, too.

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