Does Manufacturing Really Need Branding?

“We don’t need a brand. We need a brochure.”

We’ll hear something like that from time to time in our industry. And you know, I get it. I understand why “branding” doesn’t always sound appealing. It’s intangible. You can’t pick it up or check its tolerances or hand it to a prospective customer. But a brochure in the hands of a good salesperson? That’s something you can see some value in.

In recent posts we’ve talked a lot about “brand.” When to rebrand. When not to. Why rebrands sometimes fail. You can read those here and here. But maybe now is a good time to take a step back and address what branding even is—and whether it’s something you really need to spend your valuable resources on.

What is a brand?

First off, it’s not just a logo. It’s the entire idea of who you are, what you stand for, and the overall impression people get based on every experience they’ve had with you. Another way to think about it? Your brand is your reputation.

So when you build your brand, you’re taking conscious steps to develop the kind of reputation that will endear you to your customers. And just like it is with people, your reputation is more about what you do than what you say. It goes way beyond a couple of marketing pieces. It shows up in absolutely everything—in your sales materials, your culture, your conversations … in your physical space, the way you do business, and yes, your logo and marketing messaging.

Get that brand experience in order and you’ll see it drive your business in a bunch of ways. Here are three.

1. A strong brand can increase sales

When branding is done right, it sends ripples throughout your organization. It’s a whole-company thing. Effective branding relies on not only defining your position, voice, and personality, but also building it directly into the very fabric of your company—your employees. It’s an inside-out approach that makes loyal fans out of your own people so they can help make loyal fans out of your customers. It’s about building high engagement on the inside so you can offer a great experience on the outside.

But still, I can hear you wondering, “What does that have to do with sales?” So let’s try to break down some numbers that may help us out:

  1. According to Gallup, businesses with high employee engagement are 20 percent more productive and 21 percent more profitable than low-engagement businesses.
  2. The same Gallup analysis suggests high-engagement organizations have 10 percent higher customer loyalty.
  3. And here’s an interesting one … a recent study suggests that happier employees are 12 percent more productive.

 

The point is, culture can make a big difference. Not just on the inside, but the outside, too. When you’ve created a compelling experience for your employees, you’re also creating a compelling experience for your customers. And that makes for an atmosphere where selling gets a little easier.

Here’s another way to think about it … if you have a strong reputation and highly engaged employees, your customers will have a lot more reason to trust you. And trust is the most important factor in building sales. Especially in an arena where purchases are often very high-dollar, long-term commitments.

2. A strong brand sets you apart from the competition

Originally, “branding” was better known in the cattle-herding sense of the word—searing a unique symbol into your livestock’s hide to tell them apart from the rest. That’s the same thing branding in the marketing sense does for your business. It shows the world how you’re different.

Part of developing a brand is some deep soul searching to uncover what makes your company uniquely you. What value you can provide that no one else can. It’s about staking a claim so customers can say, “Yeah, that’s you,” whenever they have an experience with your company.

And when your customers have something to hold on to—that one thing about your experience that no one else can offer—they’ll keep coming back.

3. A strong brand helps attract and retain talent

Manufacturing has an image problem, which is making it especially difficult at the moment to get new recruits interested in the careers you have to offer. A common misunderstanding says that manufacturing is “dumb, dirty, and dangerous”—the whole industry could use a bit of brand realignment. But you can tackle that misperception on your own company’s level.

For you, building a strong brand will help you realign the way potential employees perceive you. Just like your brand can set you apart from the competition in the minds of your customers, a strong brand will set you apart in the minds of prospective employees. Jobseekers are vetting potential employers the same way they evaluate purchases. Strengthening your brand is an opportunity to show young talent what makes your company worth checking out. And when they get in the door, it’s a major part of why they stay.

Yes, manufacturing needs branding

It can be easy to think that branding isn’t the right way to spend your money. But the thing is, branding is right—not only that, it’s necessary—for everybody. But you have to do it well. It takes time, and it’s an investment. But developing a strong brand can pay huge dividends when it’s done right.

And the best part about all of this? If your brand is nailed down, your people are engaged, and your customers are getting a memorable experience, you may not even need that brochure.

See more posts about Branding/Rebranding

About the author:

John Behrens

John Behrens is a copywriter at Imaginasium. He’s an idea-generator and problem-solver who crafts words and concepts into memorable experiences that build brand engagement for our clients. Follow him on Twitter at @johncbehrens.