How Do You Brand a Manufacturing Company? (7 action steps)

Congratulations! Your manufacturing business is making products and ready to generate sales!

In fact, we believe now is one of the greatest times in history to build a manufacturing business.

That’s because when our economy transitions out of a downward trend and focuses on what matters most -- manufacturing, marketing, productivity and trade in a free enterprise system ...

your manufacturing business will be positioned for maximum sales!

And that time will happen because few things are more powerful than tens of millions of innovative, responsible, productive entrepreneurs with a focus on the future!

Exciting stuff!

Let’s now get started on building your awesome brand.

How do you brand a manufacturing company?
You brand your manufacturing company by first knowing that your brand is more than just a logo and stationary. Your brand is the culture, the standards, the doorway, the people, the colors, the waste basket, the language, the font, the emotions, the quality of the product or service, the customer experience and the after-sale communication with the customer. Your brand literally encompass everything.

In this tutorial we are going to review some basics about building your brand. Then, we will lay out a plan to help you get started in building your brand. You can skip to the bottom now if you prefer and download the Brand Standards Manual Starter Guide, or you can continue reading (or both!). You are also invited to review our tutorial on building your sales and marketing department in your manufacturing company here.

What Are Some Examples of Manufacturer Branding?

Some examples of very well known manufacturers that have successfully branded themselves include:

  • Nike: The shoe brand, which produces clothing and athletic gear, became famous for its "swoosh" logo. The logo is now instantly recognizable as a symbol of athletic excellence.
  • Coca-Cola: The soft drink company has had an extremely recognizable logo since its founding in 1886—and it continues to use the same design to this day!
  • Apple Computer: Although the company changed its name to Apple Inc., its iconic rainbow Apple remains unchanged. Even though people don't necessarily know what an apple computer is anymore (or if they do), they still associate this image with all things related to technology and innovation—and therefore want one!

Lets now dig into some of the nuts and bolts of building your brand and then you can download your brand standards guide template.

7 Steps to Brand a Manufacturing Company

1. Know your target audience

Imagine you are sitting across the table, right now, from your ideal customer. The one who is writing a check for a very large order of your product.

  • What do they really want? -- Not just the specifications, dimensions and type of material, but what is it they are really looking for? Cost-savings for the year? Increased sales revenue? Less headaches? More time on the beach? Be specific.
  • Who is the buyer? An executive? A manager? What causes them pain and how is your product the solution for this person every day?
  • What is the buyer’s demographics? Age, income, geographic location?Job title, industry, niche? Be specific.
  • What is the customer’s psycho-graphics? What is their motivation for buying? Are they an innovator, a thinker, or a survivor? You can learn more about buyer’s behavior types here.

2. Know your competition

This one might seem obvious, but it's important to create separation in a crowded marketplace environment.

After all, unless you or your competitors are a “me-too product”, your competitors are most likely doing something different than you.

Your job is to keep a thumb on them for a variety of reasons, largely to monitor how they attract new customers with pricing, positioning and media locations. 

You don’t have to invest a tremendous amount of resources into monitoring them, but you do need to know some basics.

For example, if your competitors are not updating their website regularly with new content or information that new customers are searching for, this presents an excellent opportunity for you to build a stronger brand online, gain a competitive advantage and increase lead flow and sales.

3. Decide if you want to focus on business to business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C), a.k.a. direct to customer (DTC) 

As you decide whether to focus on industrial markets (B2B) or going direct business to consumer (B2C) markets, consider a couple high level ideas:

B2B markets might be more conservative and traditional -- and this represents a HUGE opportunity for your marketing department. You can easily create separation from the competition using some digital skills and direct mail. The mainstream approach is to deliver a more traditional brand strategy. This is great news for you because while they are doing this, you will be the one acquiring all the customers.

Businesses focused on going direct to consumers (DTC) will likely look for innovation over tradition when it comes to branding, so if that's what your clientele expects from brands they buy from, then your branding should reflect that. Start your market research methods here.

Regardless of which option you choose to get started with, simply decide on a branding strategy. Get started. Once you build a brand, some momentum, build your testimonials and your customer base you can look at other options in your annual SWOT analysis.

4. Build a clear and consistent brand narrative

Keep your messaging clear and concise.

If your brand positioning is focused on forward thinking, innovative professionals who prioritize activity and having fun, then your messaging should maintain this atmosphere.

Use language that is exciting, colors that inspire feeling and emotion and create community in your branding.

Over time, the people in your target market will know what your brand stands for. Think Starbucks, Safeway, Nationwide, Harley-Davidson and McDonalds. Everyone knows what to expect.  You may not have their budgets, but you can relentlessly focus on your target market and the community you serve -- hammering them day in and day with your clear and consistent positioning statements.

Your brand can be the anchor in the “community” you choose.

5. Choose strategic partnerships to help build brand recognition

A Strategic partnership is possibly the single greatest thing you can do to build your brand quickly. Choosing the right partnerships is key to building your company's brand. Here are some tips for finding the best partners:

Pick partners that make sense. The goal of your partnership should be that it brings value to both parties, usually this means customer acquisition. For example, if you are marketing high-end foods, partner with cooking schools so the students represent a built-in source of business when they enter the workforce. Or if you are marketing pet supplies, partner with nonprofit pet related organizations who can immediately benefit from your products.

Find partners who have access to audiences that intersect with yours. If you're looking for media exposure, find brands or publications where people who might want to buy from you are already reading their content and sharing it through strategic media channels.

6. Use brand storytelling to bring your company to life

Storytelling is a powerful way to establish your company's values and ethos. A good brand story brings to life what your company stands for and how you operate as an organization. It also allows you to connect with customers in a uniquely memorable way.

After all, people love stories, especially stories that they can relate to. If you manufacture dental products and you yourself are a dentist, tell your story of how you transitioned into your product.

Or, if you manufacture sports accessories and are a competitive athlete, share stories of your matches, adventures, etc. Your customers will bond with you, and buy from you, much faster.

Images and video are important because they help create a visual representation of your brand story, but don't forget about other elements like a copy (the words on the page) and sound (voiceover). All three need to work together for the story to have an impact.

7. Build your brand standards guide to brand the customer experience 

Create an internal brand guide that helps you define your brand and ensure consistency across all touchpoints. Think of it as the "bible" for your company's look, feel, and voice.

The guide can be simple or complex, depending on the size and nature of your business. A brand standards guide may contain:

  • An overview of your mission statement and brand purpose (e.g., why do you exist? Why do we buy from you?) 
  • A visual identity system that includes a logo template and color palette
  • The structure for how to use these elements in print materials like marketing collateral or digital assets like web pages

How to develop your brand standards manual to brand your manufacturing company 

The brand standards guide is a simple document that outlines some basic elements of your brand. 

A new company or one that is just getting started in building their brand and developing their advertising creative, a brand standards guide is a valuable tool.  This is usually a 1-2 page document with some guidelines that your team, your marketing and advertising staff, and your vendors adhere to. It is a great idea for the marketing team to share this document with other departments so everyone is on the same page and at least adhering to some basic guidelines.

Here are some basic elements of your brand standards guide to get you started:

  1. Who is your ideal customer -- everyone in the house should have an idea, and the marketing team should be able to recite this in their sleep.
  2. Messaging:
    1. How are you positioning the company
    2. Tag line
    3. Elevator speech
  3. Logo -- include any variations such as .png, .jpeg, black and white, favicon and sizing options
  4. Fonts and usage guidelines -- this is very important. List the acceptable fonts and sizes for your brand, your stationary, your website, etc.
  5. Colors -- same, this is core and sets the tone for your brand. List the acceptable color codes for all colors related to your brand.
  6. Major brand elements, photos, positioning of imagery and visuals

You see, it doesn't have to be complicated. 

Conclusion

As a manufacturing company, it's important to take your branding seriously. People want to purchase products from reliable companies that stand behind them if anything goes wrong.

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