What are the best ideas and best practices that drive inspiring and successful B2B brands? How do other B2B experts approach brand and strategy projects for their clients?
As a brand and strategy consultant at wob, I ask myself these questions every day. Developing authentic and differentiating brands with a clear and profound strategy behind them is our goal at wob. We believe in the power of brands – and constantly strive to find the best methodology, tools and processes to empower brands. As one of the founding partners and members of BBN – the world’s B2B agency, we not only share our belief in the importance of brands with all other partner agencies worldwide. We also work together based on shared and proven methodology and processes. But every client and industry has unique features, needs and challenges – so how can a universal set of brand and communication processes really work on a global scale? And where are the differences in our working styles within BBN?
So many questions – and the BBN Exchange Programme offered the perfect opportunity for me to get answers. In this programme, you work abroad at a partner agency of BBN for a couple of weeks to exchange ideas and best practices and get to know each other’s working culture. The chance to get out into the world, meet new people and explore a foreign country sounded amazing to me! During my studies, I had already spent one semester in Latvia’s capital Riga and worked in Paris for two months – and I fully fell in love with it! You learn so much about other cultures, working styles and about yourself when you move out of your comfort zone and go out there. So when the brand and strategy experts of our partner agency Fifth Ring in Scotland kindly invited me over, I was more than excited to go 😊
Fifth Ring is an integrated B2B marcomms agency with locations in the Americas, Europe and Asia focused on supporting their clients in building better brands and selling more stuff. They are truly amazing, dedicated people sweeping you off your feet with their profound strategic expertise and inspiring creative ideas. Thinking about brand identities, Personas or brand portfolios with them in Aberdeen, Scotland’s beautiful Granite City, was such an inspiration!
One of the main insights I gained during my stay is that there are different levels of consulting for brand and strategy. The majority of Fifth Ring’s clients belong to the Oil and Gas sector. This comes as no surprise, given their location in the East of Scotland at the North Sea as one of the main hubs for the Energy industry. Having so many clients from this particular sector, Fifth Ring is a true expert for the market structures and trends in the Oil and Gas business. This is why their brand and strategy team not only helps clients build successful brands, but also offers business consulting to some extent. This was especially interesting for me since we at wob have clients from a broad variety of industries and therefore focus much more on brand and strategy than on business consultancy.
Moreover, although most of our strategic thinking and the way we work is closely aligned, there are differences in how we approach certain tasks. For example, some of the models and tools we at wob use in brand or Persona workshops with our clients were new to Fifth Ring, and vice versa. To be honest, this was exactly what I had hoped for – to exchange different views on and approaches to the work we do, helping both sides to gain new impulses and broaden their horizon. The open exchange of knowledge and tools is what brings BBN to life for me – and one of the main reasons why I can strongly recommend working abroad to everyone!
My exchange was such a great experience for me, both on a professional and personal level. I had so much fun working with my Scottish colleagues, getting our lunch break coffee (or in my case: cocoa) boost and tasting crazy Scottish treats like Irn-Bru and the famous Deep Fried Mars Bar (which my brain is still desperately trying to process 😉). On a stormy Saturday, we explored the beautiful Dunnottar Castle stunningly located on a clifftop close to the town of Stonehaven, and later that day enjoyed some drinks in a former church that’s now used as a bar in Aberdeen. I even started to like Whisky – thanks to my first Whisky tasting ever in a traditional Scottish distillery with my colleagues.
For me, being given the opportunity to go abroad, deepen my expertise and challenge my views on brand, strategy and communication is also a huge benefit when working for B2B clients from across the globe. I think as a brand consultant, you have to be curious, open-minded, and passionate about digging deep into highly specialized markets and complex decision-making structures. You must never stop challenging yourself but should always strive to learn new things. I had a great time during my BBN Exchange and learned a lot – and I am grateful for this opportunity to both wob and Fifth Ring. It was a pleasure! 😊 I would like to end this blog with a famous quote of Albert Einstein who said: “The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” So – stay curious, go out there and explore!