Manufacturing your Brand, Building your Business

January 15, 2014
Developing a Brand

Not long ago, word of mouth and a good reputation were all an owner of a small manufacturing business needed to maintain a decent lifestyle.  The phone would ring, a new job would come in, and everything was good. Today, however, the manufacturing world is a far different place.

The world has grown comfortable with online purchasing and arms-length supply chain relationships, and this makes it more and more difficult to have customers understand the full depth and breadth of your core competencies. In other words, the times have changed—has your communication style?

To effectively communicate with new and existing customers, a focused effort on communications and branding is essential. Your brand is an asset and it could be worth more than any piece of equipment you have in your business.  This makes “the” brand one of the most important value components of any business.

If you don’t believe it, think for a moment: What if your potential customers could easily trust that their money was better spent with your business versus any of your rivals? What kind of impact would that have on your livelihood?

Strong brand positioning can offer a major advantage in increasingly competitive markets like those served by many small and midsized manufacturers. But few small businesses understand the full extent of what branding really is or what it can do for them.

Simply put, a brand is a promise to a customer. It tells them what they can expect from you in exchange for their time, money, and trouble. Good brands tell great stories about specific products and/or services, and they differentiate a product or service from its competitors.

So, what is your niche? Are you the innovative rising star in your industry, or the knowledgeable, trusted leader? Do you deliver high quality with a big price, or do you serve up high value/low cost?

No business can succeed at being everything to everyone. Your focus needs to be based on how you are equipped to service your most meaningful markets.

Your core brand components include a value proposition, your logo and visual identity, your website, and sales collateral—in addition to virtually every piece of marketing material you have.  And if you are like most other small and midsized manufactures, a little work in this space could go a long way.

Planning for your brand means developing a strategy to address what, where, when, and to whom you will communicate and deliver on your value proposition.  It should also consider where you advertise, what your distribution channels are, and what you communicate visually and verbally to your customers.

The more refined your efforts become, the higher the likelihood of your business becoming a standout player in its industry.  With that comes the added value known to experts as brand equity, or the intrinsic value frequently measured by a market’s perception of quality or emotional attachment around a brand.  Think Coca-Cola, Apple, McDonald’s, etc.

Creating a distinct brand is like a rite of passage for any organization seeking self-discovery. It is often hair-raising and frequently trying, but in the end you’ll find it well worth the effort. Along your journey most experts would agree that you should:

  • Connect your brand strategy and mission so that they are inseparable;
  • Validate what your customers think your brand represents, compare that against internal perceptions, and define the gaps;
  • Not be afraid to benchmark the best outside of your field—after all, everyone needs a role model to look up to, even your business; and
  • Stay focused—develop a brand strategy and deployment plan.

Once you’re feeling good about your brand and its promise, it will be time to turn up the heat on your sales and marketing efforts.

To learn more or to speak with a DVIRC representative or content expert, please call 215-464-8550 or send email to info@dvirc.org.