Branding is hard. But it’s especially difficult when we’re talking about business operating in “old-fashioned” industries such as the manufacturing and heavy industries.
In fact, that’s likely the reason why you see many of those businesses “give up” with their own marketing and branding and focus exclusively on sales. But that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. With a little creativity, manufacturers can also go a long way and instill their brand in their customers – and potentially gain new ones as well.
But why would that be important?
Branding is an essential part of sales. That’s because it drives the adoption of a product much faster. While branding can help you in the short term, where it really shines is the long term – customers need time to adapt and accept the message they’re offered before they can truly believe and amplify it through their own voice. In fact, this study by Harvard Business Review looks exactly at this question in detail.
As short term activity, branding can already bring you additional PR and media exposure – which you haven’t necessarily planned for – but still increase your sales.
On the other hand, in the long-term, branding can help you drive the price of acquiring new customers – simply because more of your existing customers are willing and have a reason to recommend your products to others.
Now, let’s look at our 3 concrete ideas for branding your manufacturing company.
1. Add your logo and brand elements to your appliances
Now, you should not limit yourself only to your logo as other brands elements can also improve your brand’s perception in the eyes of both existing and potential customers.
How a product looks and feels does matter in your prospects’ decision-making process. In fact, this study shows that it takes just about 90 seconds for your prospect to make a subconscious decision about your products.
Also, remember that branding is a long term game in which you want to expose your brand to as many people as possible. By having great looking products, you increase your chances that existing customers will find the products satisfying and share them with colleagues and friends.
If a worker sees and uses one of your appliances at one company and they are left with a good experience and remember your brand, they might recommend it to another company if they happen to switch jobs.
We were able to get a comment from one such company with offices in the United Kingdom (you can visit their website by clicking here). They are a manufacturer of graphic panels, and here’s what they had to say: “Back in the day control panels used to be very straightforward, bland and in a way boring. Nowadays, we see more companies use them as a tool for branding. They are very customizable and you can really make your brand and in general your industrial tools stand out among the competition. For example, we’ve had quite a few companies coat their panels with polyurethane. This not only protects the panel itself, but also combined with some great design really makes it stand out. By investing just a little time and money on the design and look of your control panels or industrial overlays you can more or less create a unique visual that both workers and management will definitely remember. After all, it’s called ‘Human Machine Interface’ for a reason – there are humans interacting with the machine, and humans enjoy orderly things that simply look good.”
2. Sponsor an event or fair in a creative way
Here’s the deal – most sponsors get only a little exposure by simply having their logo on some wall at the event. Instead, prepare something custom for the event itself – preferably something that people can take home.
But don’t just go for the standard notepads or pens. Instead, here you can get very creative – for example, you can produce a helpful resource available both physically or for download. This could be some sort of industry research, some data or statistics that people in your niche find interesting, relevant and helpful.
You want that because the longer they are exposed to your brand, the more they remember it. And the more they remember it, the more top-of-mind it is next time they have to make an important business decision.
You could show them something, teach them something, or simply solidify an argument they already had in their head. When customers approach you, they can freely hand out a shortened printed physical version of your research. If they are interested in getting the whole white paper, however, you can provide that to them by email – for which they have to sign up by giving consent. With this strategy, you will both spread your brand for little to no investment, and collect hard data and outreach contacts which your sales force can then work with.
While you can do this step already without sponsoring the event, it would be much easier to get the exposure by investing into that too. Also, think forward. Your logo will be placed on a banner with 5-10 more logos. How can you make it stand out?
Well, here’s an idea – if you’re allowed to add a tagline to your logo (or if the speakers call out the sponsors by name), simply write “visit our stand to get the latest research on [your topic]”. This way, you’re setting yourself up for success, because you’re structuring every step of the customer journey. Essentially, you’re promoting your promotion.
If you’re looking to sponsor an event, here’s a helpful article that shares 10 tips on doing so.
3. Write useful content relevant to your industry
By writing useful content on topics that your (potential) customers care about, you’re branding yourself as an authority in the business.
This way you’re also able to get exposure to new prospects. With high-quality relevant content, you can rank higher in search engines (also known as SEO) you’re able to meet the users when they are most likely to engage with you – exactly in the process of research. At this moment, introducing your brand to them is critical – and the smoothest way to do that is to help them with what they are searching for.
Additionally, if you go as far as featuring industry experts in your posts, you can also get a ton of exposure though the experts’ own network. Professional social media platforms like LinkedIn are great for that, and people are more likely to share and engage with content they like and agree with. This way, you leverage the personal brand the expert has created – and reach their network which likely agrees with them. With just a few important shares you can get a ton of reach to new people and start a “snowball” effect where more and more people share your content around the internet – which then helps you produce even more content.
These were 3 creative tips on branding. As you saw, the nature of the tips isn’t anything new in particular – sponsoring events is not news and you’ve probably considered it at one point or another. However, when you get creative and combine a few successful tactics, you can come up with a strategy that proves to bring you results both in the short and long term. Good branding for heavy industry and manufacturing companies is not only possible – but also achievable.
To get more important statistics on branding and how it affects the decision-making process in your customers, visit this article.
If you’ve seen value in that and have decided to try it out but have no concrete ideas or don’t know where to start, personally, we recommend that you get in touch with a creative branding & marketing consultant. Successful branding requires that you’re present on multiple channels at the same time, and therefore understanding how digital marketing works is an important step of the process.