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Jun29

Manufacturing a Great Brand

Manufacturing a Great Brand

Great Brands Build Great Companies

If you are an established manufacturing firm, chances are, you expect your product or your innovations to speak for themselves to grow and build your company.

So, when sales are slow or a new competitor comes into the market, your instinct might be to pour money into R & D or put the heat on to your sales team.

However, savvy manufacturers know this is actually the time to take a look “under the hood” at the company’s brand. Is it effectively communicating what makes your products unique? Does it accurately reflect your client or market perceptions? Most importantly, is it engaging your customers and compelling new sales?

If you can not confidently answer yes, it may be time to take your brand into the shop.

See the Forest for the Kudzu

In order to be practical or cost-effective, many manufacturing CEO’s will turn to their inside marketing team to undergo a branding or re-branding process.

Certainly, your marketing department is staffed with capable professionals who can adequately, even effectively, communicate to your customers. The challenge is, your marketing department has been focused inward, on your process, your products and your specialties. More than likely, they have not been looking outwardly, studying the market, the competition or market trends.

A re-branding requires a 365-degree/10,000 foot view of your company and how and where it sits in the market. Think of it as being inside your factory and missing the outside of the building, the landscape, or the incoming weather completely.

A professional branding firm or strategist is recommended for this process. An outside firm can “go up in a crane” and take a look down at your company as a whole. They can provide an outsider’s perspective on what makes you unique and what market position you could take to become or remain competitive.

They can also get better responses to customer and employee interviews – providing more accurate data with which to configure your new brand strategy.

Steps for Successfully Branding Your Manufacturing Firm

When considering a partnership with a branding agency, ensure they will take your company through the following steps:
1. Brand discovery. This strategic process should identify what makes you unique, what is your competitive advantage and how can you deliver on that USP (Unique Selling Proposition) rain or shine!
This process will identify your brand tone and personality-how you want to make your customers feel and respond when they see your sales materials, packaging or website. It will also extract your key selling features, define your critical sales messaging and help personalize your brand aesthetic.

2. Focus Groups & Interviews. This 360-degree look at your company should include focus groups and customer/vendor/staff interviews to gather an understanding of how the market perceives you and where you can improve. You can also use this process to identify gaps in employee satisfaction or company culture, which are both key elements of a successful, healthy brand. This process should conclude with a deeper understanding of what motivates your customers and vendors to do business with you. You should understand what emotionally and logically triggers their buying decisions.

3. Brand Language & Strategy.  The understanding gained through the Brand Discovery process should be used to craft a bank of communications language and marketing messages that will be used to better tell your story and to improve the effectiveness of your sales materials.  From development of the brand language, a strategic marketing plan can also be created to identify where your language will best reach your targeted markets as well as what content will need to be created to convert them.

4. Design & Development. You’ve done the research, now it is time to move the brand into development. Using the brand language & brand strategy as a blue print, it is time to develop beautiful and effective collateral materials to tell your story, convert sales and create new customer connections.  However, all design should be intentional and be done with sustainable practices in mind.

5. Training & Implementation (Rolling your brand onto the floor). A plan should be created for your brand rollout-one that includes training your staff, communicating with your customers and informing the public of any positioning shifts, new brand architecture or strategies.

Lastly, any agency that you partner with to help you grow your brand should be willing to listen, to ask good questions and to know and understand your specific goals.

Working through Kudzu’s discovery process provided us with the basics we needed to start building our look and feel but also helped us, internally, to refine our sales plan and approach to market.

I strongly recommend Kudzu to any manufacturer or distributor of technical, engineered products or systems. Trust their system, even when (especially when) it feels uncomfortable. You’ll really be glad you did. – Jeremy Mahon, Prihoda Steel

If you are ready to take your manufacturing brand to the next level, work with the experts. Kudzu Brands, based in Black Mountain, NC, has worked with several manufacturing companies to build or refresh their brand and to improve the way they tell their story. Schedule a free consultation by emailing projects@kudzubrands.com