7 B2B Marketing Lessons from Mercedes-Benz’s Positioning

7 B2B Marketing Lessons from Mercedes-Benz’s Positioning

The brand Mercedes-Benz is one of the strongest brands in the world. In terms of brand value, it continues to outshine its direct competitors, Audi and BMW. Why is this? You probably have your own perception, but if you ask your neighbor the same question, they might offer a completely different answer. That’s what’s so special about this brand—it means something different to everyone. But how did the brand become what it is? What central elements do we recognize, and what is the brand’s own perspective? We discuss Mercedes-Benz’s positioning and focus on the topics that enable you to apply these insights to your B2B organization.

Mercedes-Benz Positioning

The first line in Daimler’s annual report—the owner of Mercedes-Benz—reads: ‘We invented the automobile – and now we are passionately shaping its future.’ Between the invention of the automobile by Karl Benz and the founding of Mercedes-Benz with Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft, there were 48 years. However, the company has had and continues to have a crucial role in the evolution of the automobile. If you go back to the annual report from 2009, you’ll find the same first sentence, a sign of a conservative company or one with a clear view of their positioning? We believe it’s the latter, and this is underlined by both their financial performance and their product-level achievements.

Mercedes-Benz is perhaps the best example of a successful positioning for us. The company has not only aligned its positioning with its (market) environment and future vision but has also made its raison d’être a central pillar. The result is a story that gets to the core in a matter of minutes, from which all behavior can be derived. We invented the first car, we are the first to make essential discoveries, and we deliver the best products to customers who expect the best. It’s hard to derive anything other than the number one from this story, and that’s exactly the positioning Mercedes-Benz aims for.

How does this play out in the company’s market interaction? In 2007, the company revealed a new brand identity for the first time in 18 years with the slogan ‘the star always shines from above.’ A message that aligns with the brand’s market and product leadership and is consistently reflected in all communications. Customer experience? The Head of Marketing in the United States describes it as follows: “When you own a Mercedes, you’ve arrived.” None of this is by chance; the brand’s positioning is central to everything it does. Mercedes-Benz’s vision on positioning is:

‘A strong brand doesn’t just have captivating products but also stands out with a presence and positioning that are immediately and unmistakably recognizable—no matter where, when, or in which medium.’

Key takeaways

What can you take from the success story of one of the most valuable brands in the world? When you work on the positioning of your B2B organization, pay attention to the following 7 points:

  1. Pay attention to the origin and history of your brand. Where does it come from, what is its raison d’être, and how does this influence who you are today?
  2. What is your vision of the market and the future? What does this mean for your organization, and what behavior does it require now?
  3. What story best represents how we as a brand stand in the world, both in the past and today? Can I tell this story in 5 minutes, and do people understand us?
  4. What behavior is expected from a brand that tells this story? Does this match the behavior our people exhibit now? If not, why not? (Is the difference too significant? Then first find out why.)
  5. What position does the company logically take in the market based on that story? And do we actually do that?
  6. What marketing activities align with that story? (Mercedes-Benz stopped sponsoring tennis and instead focused on golf to get even closer to its target audience. After all, people who’ve ‘arrived’ are often in their 50s and play golf.)
  7. What message is central in all communication? Mercedes-Benz is shaping the future of the automotive industry, and sustainability is part of it. Not the other way around.

If you pay attention to these points, you will arrive at a positioning, story, message, and behavior that fits your brand or organization. Whether you are a market leader and an inventor or a challenger competing on production costs, when everything is aligned, the market can clearly tell why they are your customers and not the competition’s.

Would you like to learn more about positioning and how to work on it yourself? Visit our Positioning page, where you will find in-depth articles and dozens of examples and models for every possible positioning challenge.

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