Branding. Many manufacturers shy away from it, because “Our products will speak for themselves.” Or because “We’re in a niche market, so we don’t need to worry about branding.”
But, if you don’t have a personalized message that tells people what you’re all about, you’re not going to stand out. Period.
Even if you’re in an uncompetitive market with little competition, you still need to be noticed by your target market. They need to know you exist and what sets you apart, even if you have only one or two competitors.
In the early days of cola drinks, Coca-cola and Pepsi were the only two manufacturers, but they branded themselves like crazy to capture market share. Why? Because it generated interest and increased loyalty, ultimately leading to more sales.
Ok, so what do manufacturers need to do to get their branding ‘on-point’? Let’s take a look.
Distil your message
Breaking your core message down into one sentence makes it far easier to design a marketing strategy. It can also help you identify your unique selling proposition.
Take Apple’s tagline, ‘Think Different.' Its marketing team didn’t settle on that by plucking it out of thin air. They would have gone through a process of asking themselves a series of questions. Questions such as:
- Who are we?
- How are we different?
- Why do we exist?
- Who do we serve?
- What are we striving to become?
In Apple’s case, the answers may have read like this:
“We are a company that makes consumer electronics that are innovative in design and style. We exist to push the envelope of what’s possible, to be at the cutting-edge of design, to be radically different from our competition. We serve creatives, stylish people, and those who appreciate both form and function. We’re striving to become the most innovative and thoughtful company in the tech industry.”
It’s easy to see how this can lead to increasingly focused questions. For example:
- Why is innovation important to us?
- Why do we value design and functionality?
- Why do we want to be different?
- How are we more thoughtful than other companies?
Each iteration of their brand message would become increasingly concise until they arrive at “Think Different.”
Just to demonstrate how powerful this technique is, and how it can be used for any business, let’s take a fictitious example of a company that produces fishing tackle. They may answer the above questions like this:
“We’re a company that anglers love because we make tackle that is durable and effective. We’re different because our tackle is handmade from sustainable or recycled materials. We exist to help people catch fish in a green way. We serve anglers that care about the environment and want quality tackle. We’re striving to make an impact on the sport of fishing and become market leaders.”
After narrowing this down further, they may get a sentence such as: “We make environmentally friendly handmade tackle that anglers love.” Leading to the superb tagline: “Eco-friendly tackle, loved by anglers”.
Outside opinions count
Coming up with a message is incredibly introspective -- focusing on questions about your brand identity. But, it’s important to get an outside view of your company as well. Ask your customers how they view you with focused questions to ask them such as:
- What do we do well?
- How do we stand out from the competition?
- What made you buy from us?
- Is there anything we could do better?
In the branding stage, it’s essential that you elicit both good and bad feedback from your customers so you can use targeted marketing to preempt objections or put things right. It will also give you a head-start over your competitors, as they may point out shortcomings if you don’t.
Focus groups and surveys are a good way to achieve this, as they provide honest and detailed opinions. And with social media, soliciting either is a breeze.
Those who dare, win
Being timid and reticent about your brand just won’t do. It never has. And it’s even more certain to fail these days due to the amount of noise and distractions on the internet. What works is being bold. Daring to do something different and catch the eye. Look at what your competitors are doing and try something radically different.
Don’t worry, being innovative doesn’t mean you have to try to be something you’re not. You can just present your brand in a different, fresh way. It may seem impossible to do if you’re in a seemingly ‘dull’ industry, but there’s always a way.
Imagine you manufacture office staplers. It doesn’t get more ‘ordinary’ than that, so, how could you create branding that really stands out? The first thing to do is to come up with a strategy. In this case, a funky logo and a tagline of ‘staplers that stay strong’ or ‘staplers that seldom jam’ may help to get you noticed, as this is a common bugbear of office staff.
Decide what your market wants, then try and find a way to deliver that message in an original and appealing way.
The essence of good branding is about creating powerful and succinct messages that describe your company. You need to penetrate the psyche of your potential customers and break through the noise. Manufacturers have often relied on serving niche industries with little competition, but in today’s global marketplace, you’re unlikely to remain the sole producer in a market for long.
If you’re new to market, then make branding a priority.
If you’re already established, perhaps it’s time for a re-branding? Ask yourself this: If I were a buyer, would I be influenced, excited or persuaded by our current branding?
And if you need a little help, keep Pronto Marketing in mind. We even have a corporate branding package!