As a manufacturer, you understand the importance of ROI (return on investment). It's easy to invest in $400k in machinery if it's going to produce $10 Mil in revenue, right? But what about things you're less familiar with, yet you know they're important. Take branding for example...it's important, but it's also easy to miss the boat. Here are 5 things that will help you determine whether or not you are wasting money on your branding investment.
1. You've invested in "branding" but haven't done anything to incorporate your brand into an actual marketing strategy.
Branding can be described as your corporate image. It's much more than your logo, fonts, and colors. Your company brand is everything that your company represents from your services/products to your mission/vision/values.
That being said, branding won't fill the shoes of lead generation, which ultimately leads to sales. What you've established in your manufacturer branding efforts should be incorporated into a lead generation focused marketing strategy. Your marketing strategy will help get more eyes on your brand and convert more of those "eyes" into leads. If you fail at this you might have a decent branding strategy, but it's going to be difficult to see any significant returns on your investment.
2. You're a tier one or tier two manufacturer, but your branding doesn't speak to your actual customers appropriately.
If you're typically 2nd or 3rd in the supply chain, that doesn't mean branding isn't as important as it would be for an OEM that's selling directly to consumers. You still have customers. You still need prospects and leads. You still need to appeal to the humans you interact with at these businesses.
That's the first step in making sure you don't waste your money on your branding efforts. Remember, you're dealing with humans. Be sure to identify these humans (or as we like to call them, buyer personas) and find out what types of things resonate with them emotionally. Be sure that whatever you put out there focuses on them, not the end consumer for the types of parts you produce.
3. Using appropriate branding across all mediums is a requirement, not optional.
If you have invested in your manufacturing branding, it was likely a decent size investment. Make sure what you've established is incorporated in ALL of your messages and it's understood as a requirement, not an option. If your branding is optional in use, then you've wasted your money.
Whether you we're talking about social media, website content, trade-shows, publications, etc. be sure the teams in charge of those deliverables have easy access to your branding guidelines and they are easy to follow and incorporate. If your branding guidelines are over-complicated or not easy to follow, your deliverable teams will start to slip and eventually all resemblance to the original will be lost.
4. Your branding is DIY and appears as such.
We understand the desire to save money and do as much as possible in-house, but that's not always the best decision. In the long run, a poorly implemented branding strategy will cost you more than an investment in a professional would have.
Think about it. Your brand represents your business. It should appeal to your prospects and buyers on an emotional level. Based on that alone it will be one of the determining factors on whether or not they do business with you or continue to do business with you over time.
You wouldn't ask your accountant to run a CNC machine (in most cases) so don't ask your sales rep (or IT person, plant manager, receptionist...you get the point) to develop your branding.
5. Your branding is only visual.
Yes, "pretty" matters...but only to a certain extent. When someone finds you online, they they were trying to find something. That might be a solution to a problem, help following through an an opportunity, data points to help convince someone about something and so on. When they come across this information, it's usually content. Some of it can be visual such as video or images, but also article based content (blogs). These are the things they remember and reference, not how nice your fonts, colors, and logos were.
Be sure that your content is helpful to your buyer personas, but also use the voice of your brand. As you convert more visitors into leads and begin the nurturing process, your band will become more important. You're wasting money on your overall branding if you aren't also caring about the non-visual aspects of a brand.