By Hank Ostholthoff, CEO of Mabbly
It is increasingly vital that modern manufacturers offer transparency on their processes and operations. Manufacturers can no longer remain competitive by simply producing at the lowest price, but must consider the values they represent as important as the cost of their
goods. In today’s market, these values are translated into the greater ecosystem as the manufacturer’s brand identity.
A brand is no longer merely a logo and marketing materials—it’s about humans and the stories they tell. And so, as the world becomes more interconnected with brand visibility, ignoring brand identity is no longer a viable option.
Consider Patagonia. Their first priority, when deciding which companies to work with, is sustainability. If a manufacturer's brand runs counter to this priority, then the conversation is over before it even begins. The ripple effects of this policy are felt far beyond the confines of a work order. Those most affected by the staunch belief in and support for sustainability are the consumers who understand that buying Patagonia says more about you than just the look of your clothing.
There’s no denying it—a brand is an invaluable asset—so improving it is always a worthwhile investment. In fact, all business strategy should begin with an approach toward brand identity, as brand is now at the heart of a business’s value.
Here are three essential strategies for elevating a manufacturing brand in today’s market:
Brand is a reflection of culture. Brand isn’t just the intentional ways an organization presents itself—a brand can run directly counter to the image an organization would like to present. This is why culture is the foundation of any brand. That is, the values an organization exhibits through its behavior. And, with the continued rise of social media, the behaviors a manufacturer exhibits will become ever more visible—making the brand identity more about lived behaviors than ever before.
Creating a culture of values guided behavior all begins with a “Why.” An organization’s Why is its reason for being—a central purpose that goes beyond profit and seeks to infuse a greater good in the world. And, while an organization’s Why can be key in attracting clients or customers, its most pronounced effect might be on its workforce.
When people see their work in light of a larger purpose, the results can be astonishing. Not only are people more apt to be more engaged and committed to their work, but studies have found that 90% of workers are willing to accept less pay when they are offered more meaningful work. The power of an inspiring Why should not and cannot be underestimated.
Bring humanity to technology
Most people understand the vital role digital technology plays in branding today, but the best approach to utilizing technology is often overlooked or misunderstood. Digital tools for branding aren’t just about functionality, they’re about starting conversations and facilitating human experiences.
When manufacturers develop their branding strategy, rather than focusing on marketing to other businesses (B2B), manufacturers should narrow in on the key individual people within the businesses with whom they are interacting: person to person. What this means is that technology should always be geared toward removing barriers to authentic interactions between people. When considering strategy, manufacturers should ask themselves, “What barriers can I remove from my sales pipeline?”
Practically, this involves keeping the shortest distance possible between a prospect or existing client, and the information they need. If accessing relevant information requires more than two clicks, it’s too complicated. While getting a prospect the information they need may seem obvious, there is no shortage of manufacturers that do the exact opposite.
Harness data-driven insights
Most prospects make their buying decisions before they ever make contact with someone from the company. This makes the digital presence of a brand and the key elements it targets absolutely vital.
For manufacturers, Industry 4.0 usually focuses on the impact of automation, however they should also keep in mind the insights that data can provide. Data driven insights help shed light on the elements of human behavior we rarely even consider—offering opportunities for honing brand strategy. With these insights, manufacturers can anticipate the behaviors of their prospects and clients that even they wouldn’t notice—enabling business for strategies that leverage these behaviors.