Branding can be an intimidating concept for a business, and especially for manufacturing companies. Many industrial manufacturing companies choose to forgo the act all together, instead relying on word-of-mouth and referrals to attract new business. In fact, many players in the industry feel that branding for manufacturers isn’t as important.
This assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. The industrial manufacturing marketplace is extremely crowded, with multiple companies competing within the same product and service categories. The competitive landscape in the manufacturing industry makes the need for manufacturing brand differentiation even more crucial. Creating a consistent, recognizable, and memorable manufacturing branding will help you stand out, gain more business, and build loyalty for your company.
To help you tackle this daunting initiative, we’ve created this comprehensive guide on the many aspects that go into successfully branding your manufacturing company. Read along or jump to the section that interests you most:
- The Brand Development Process
- How to Establish a Strong Brand Identity
- The Elements of a Powerful Industrial Brand
- Developing Brand Loyalty
- What to Expect When You Engage with Grant Marketing
A compelling brand is essential to differentiating your company from the competition. A thoughtful brand development process helps to define and optimize your brand positioning. Beyond a logo and tagline, your brand encompasses tangibles and intangibles—how your brand is communicated, what reps or partners say, customers’ emotional connection—to form a cohesive whole.
Our brand development process will help you:
- Establish a strong brand identity. We help you figure out “who” you are to ensure your manufacturing brand is consistent and engaging—so there is no “disconnect” between your brand promise and what your customers experience.
- Create a powerful and distinctive brand. Express your brand through dynamic visual expression (logo, graphics, website) and brand narrative (positioning statement, messaging, content development).
- Develop brand loyalty. Leverage your brand to attract customers, build loyal brand advocates, and increase sales.
Successful brand development delivers a consistent and believable experience, and engages stakeholders who can be your best brand advocates. Branding starts with customer—and employee—perceptions. Research, the first step in a thoughtful brand development process, yields valuable information to build a powerful brand upon.
Brand identity is comprised of what your brand says, what your values are, and how to communicate your concepts to your consumer base. As Jeff Bezos says, “Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Brand identity is the personality of your business and a promise to your customers which helps to establish emotional connections. For manufacturers, product-centric marketing has been the go-to strategy for years, but now in the instant gratification digital age, you have about 20 seconds to make an impression. Can you clearly communicate the excellence of your product in this short time frame? What will keep your leads interested long enough to convert is the impression you leave on them and their overall perception of your company. Brand recognition and reliability are generally what hooks people first. A strong brand essence and identity is the key to gaining leads and keeping them engaged with your business through established emotional connections.
Steps toward creating strong brand identity for your manufacturing company:
- Who? Define your brand.
- Figure out who you are, what you value, and causes you stand for. A SWOT analysis can be a great place to start to assess the key areas of your business you want to shape your brand around.
- Establish consistency.
- The more consistent your brand assets are, the more recognizable your brand becomes. Consistency helps to establish trust among your customer base, which in the long run, will help foster brand loyalty.
- Stand for something.
- Even though you may be a B2B industrial company, you still need to appeal to a person. Make sure you set out clear values for your brand. If you have a buyer persona in place, research what they care about and create messaging that resonates with their causes.
- It’s no secret that manufacturing companies face intense competition in terms of products, services, and logistical capabilities. Find something that your company does that the others can’t. Once you recognize this initiative, you can develop a unique brand position around it, which will lead to viable marking opportunities in the future.
Benefits of a strong brand strategy:
- Improves “brand recognition” by giving a “face” and personality to your business
- Creates credibility and trust
- Creates impressions through advertising
- Guarantees future business, which builds financial value
- Defines your company’s mission
- Generates new customers, and delights existing ones
- Builds loyalty and advocacy with customers by creating a bond of shared vision
Branding is important for every company in every industry. While many B2B manufacturing companies don’t worry about their brand development strategy, it is vital to recognize how important it is to have a solid, recognizable brand. A strong B2B brand will distinguish your company, products, and services from competitors and help your company stick out and present clear messaging to anyone you deal with—or hope to attract as customers. From OEM buyers and engineers to attracting new talent to your company, a strong brand will improve your efficiency in attracting your target audience.
Key elements to maintaining a successful B2B brand strategy:
- Knowledge of your environment.
- To establish a strong brand, you must have extensive knowledge of the environment you operate within. Perform a SWOT analysis and develop a working knowledge of your competitors and their offerings. Furthermore, establish a comprehensive buyer persona to understand what makes your customers tick. A greater understanding of your target market and competitors will allow you to create a brand unique to the marketplace and catered to consumers’ wants and desires.
- A well-thought-out strategy.
- Brand strategy is a plan that involves specific, long-term goals that can be achieved with the evolution of a successful brand—the combined components of your business’ personality that make it identifiable. Consulting with a brand strategist can help you create a well-defined and executed brand strategy that affects all aspects of a business and is directly connected to consumer needs, emotions, and competitive environments.
- Strong visual presence.
- A strong visual presence is imperative to your brand. If you want to stand out as a provider of manufacturing services, amplify your visual identity. Carefully chose a logo, font, and color scheme that aligns with your company’s personality and values. (This is best done with a professional creative designer, specially trained in this.) Keep the color scheme and font consistent across your website, graphics, and various other deliverables. Professional photography and video production also provide highly effective visual messaging, building successful brand development, for all size and level of business.
- A clear narrative.
- A strategic narrative should tell a story. It should say who you are, where you’ve been, where you’re going, and what you value in relationships. It explains your existence and what makes you unique. Most importantly, your “why” should answer the customer’s essential question, “Why do I want to do business with you?” This story is told through your brand messaging, content, and positioning statement. Your brand positioning statement should explain the “who,” the “how” and the “why.” Not the “what.” Your content should maintain relevancy to your positioning statements and be promoted through channels your target audience actively participate in. “How to Build a Strategic Narrative,” a Harvard Business Review article, suggests looking for ways “to shift your brand roles from one-directional, asymmetrical, and transactional to reciprocal, symmetrical, and personal.” By involving the customer in your story—your manufacturing brand—it becomes more meaningful to them and helps assure them that they will always be treated right.
When you work with these four essential building blocks while creating your brand, your industrial manufacturing company will be better aligned to attract and serve the very best prospects, and ultimately your bottom line. At Grant Marketing, a Boston-based brand development and marketing firm that specializes in B2B brand strategy consulting, we walk you through the brand development process to help uncover or clarify your brand messaging. If your manufacturing branding strategy needs help, we are happy to review your current approach to improve your process. To get started, click on the button below and download our Brand Report Card.
Developing your industrial manufacturing brand or rebranding is an important part of attracting customers to your business. The greater the feeling of connection between your brand and the consumer, the more likely they are to buy from you again. Creating a loyal following of customers will ensure continued success and help increase your bottom line. The Pareto Principle states that “80% of your company’s future revenue will come from 20% of your current customer base,” making it crucial that you create a loyal following that continues to engage and repeat purchasing behavior with your company.
Here are some top tips for creating brand loyalty for your industrial company:
- Never let your customer down.
- You must consistently deliver high-quality products and services to you consumers. Stay on top of current trends and never stop innovating your processes. Your customers will stick with you if they see your company as a dependable resource.
- Provide authentic customer service.
- Stand by what you say and mean it. Follow through on any promises you make to customers and don’t guarantee them something that isn’t possible. Address any issues with personal consideration, if possible; customers need to know that problems will be addressed immediately and that you care for them on an individual basis.
- Listen to your customers.
- Regardless of what feedback they give, positive or negative, it’s all useful information for your business. Negative feedback can highlight areas you can improve on and better meet the needs of customers in the future. Positive feedback can be great reinforcement that your current initiatives are in order and can also serve as a promotional piece for your brand.
- Engage with your customers.
- The only way to nurture a meaningful relationship is to have communication on both sides. Keep your customers engaged online and always follow up with them after a sale. If they mention you on social media, implement a process to have someone at your company monitoring and responding to their posts. This will make your customers feel heard and shows them that you care. Customers feel more connected to brands that open two-way dialogue with them, and the customers who take the time to engage with your company will end up being your biggest advocates if you keep up your end of the communication.
- Make you employees advocates of your brand.
- Employee engagement is critical to building a great brand reputation. When employees feel connected to their employer and the products they are selling, their enthusiasm and genuine belief in the brand comes across to customers. Cultivating a strong brand, and ensuring employees are integral to the process, creates long-term loyalty and goodwill that customers will respond to. And in the age of social media, promoting meaningful, connected employee experiences is one more way to generate positive buzz about your brand. We’ve all experienced how sour a transaction can go when the employee handling our situation is not in step with the brand promise. It makes a lasting impression and can ruin a relationship with your company.
Are you clear on how your prospects perceive your manufacturing brand? Are you consistently maintaining your brand promise to your customers—promoting their loyalty? You can test the perception of your company brand by downloading Grant Marketing’s Brand Report Card.
Our brand development process is a multi-faceted approach that explores internal and external perceptions about your company brand, products, and services. Discovery encompasses laddering, or exploration of the deeper meaning and more abstract implications of a brand, beyond the company and product attributes, to the greater social implications.
Our brand development process includes:
- Detailed work plan, including goals and objective, external and internal research to be conducted, timeline, and project milestones.
- Intelligence gathering, including review of existing market/brand research, prior marketing plans, competition, core value proposition, and available resources.
- Discovery session with key stakeholders to better understand branding goals and objectives, internal perceptions, and core value proposition.
- Qualitative and quantitative research—both internal and external—to gain insight into how your brand is perceived and gauge how well these perceptions align with corporate perceptions.
- Progress reports to provide feedback and recommendations based upon research and preliminary creative direction.
- Creative brand development, which may include brand positioning platform and persona, messaging, logo, tagline, and style guide with examples of how to execute brand positioning.
Once your brand positioning is in place, we put your brand to work. We develop and implement an industrial marketing strategy to leverage your newly-defined or enhanced brand, and implement an inbound marketing strategy to effectively engage your target audience, increase leads, and keep the sales pipeline flowing.
Building your business was a process. Staying in business requires adhering to processes. Branding or rebranding, as well, relies on a proven process to fully represent your who and why. As a brand development company, we’re experts at guiding you through the process and delivering a strong brand that communicates your why to the world. Contact us now to get the conversation started.