Key Elements Needed to Build Your Brand
Branding is important for every company in every industry. While many B2B manufacturing companies don’t worry about their brand development strategy, it is vital to recognize how important it is to have a solid, recognizable brand. A strong B2B brand will distinguish your company, products, and services from competitors and help your company stick out and present clear messaging to anyone you deal with—or hope to attract as customers. From OEM buyers and engineers to attracting new talent to your company, a strong brand development strategy improve your efficiency in attracting your target audience.
1) The Competition
You may already have a good idea about who your competition is, but in order to understand how to set your brand apart from your competition, it will require a good amount of research. The brand strategy process begins from the inside, requiring a deep and honest look at your own company, its culture, products, services, strengths, and vulnerabilities. That part of the process needs to be the foundation of your brand identity reveal. A portion of the process will include completing industry research as well. Here’s what you’ll want to uncover as you find out where you stand among your competitors.
Understanding who is offering the same products and services will inform your messaging once you’ve discovered what it is about your company that sets your brand apart.
What do competitors offer that is similar to you?
- What do competitors offer that is different from you?
- What is the competition doing right to approach your target audience?
- What niche aspects of your industry are not well covered by the competition?
By looking into what already exists and comparing this external assessment of the industry with your thorough internal assessment of your company, you will be able give voice to the voids in the industry that your company may fill and appeal to your audience in a way that stands out. Of course, your company may already possess very remarkable differentiators, and they will likely lead the way in your brand identity messaging. You don’t want to be like every other brand; you have to point out what sets you apart.
2) The Reason
There is no question that you already know what you do, but do you know why you do it? Do your prospects? You are not going to set your brand apart if you are only talking about the products or services you offer. Everyone in your industry is going to be doing a pretty similar what, but the purpose behind that is what really makes your company, products, and services stand out. Lets’ look at a few iconic brands. One word can pretty much sum us what they stand for—basically why they do what they do. And more importantly, what you can aspire to achieve by using and associating with their brand.
- Volvo: safety
- Maytag: reliability
- L'Oréal: worthiness
- General Electric: imagination
- MasterCard: experiences
Memorable brands sell their drive, passion, and purpose. A successful brand fosters loyalty and creates brand evangelists, so the emotional association for customers is as important as having positive product experiences with the company.
3) The Audience
Of course, to really reach your target audience, you have to first know your audience. And, you can’t simply assume you know who you are approaching; you need to know who your top customers are and create in-depth buyer personas to help guide your strategies. If your company is selling to OEMs, there is a good chance that there are multiple decision-makers evaluating your company. It is important to talk to your sales team and find out who the most valuable customers are, and who (and what) the specific buyer influences are at those companies.
- What kind of buyer is making regular purchases?
- Who are all the decision-makers in the buying process?
- What kind of customer, process, or business has a pain point that your company is able to solve?
- Who are your biggest buyers?
- What do your top buyers have in common?
- What are the markets you aspire to break into—what are their pain points and how can you attract them to your company?
4) The Team
Branding is not complete without considering the underlying structure of your company. Your team is what makes your company run, and all levels of your workforce should be considered in the branding process. Their input should be sought during the discovery process for perceptions about what the brand is and what it may be lacking. Vital here is that if you present a friendly brand face, then your team has to match that same energy in-person or there is a real disconnect for your buyers. This may mean you partially base your branding off of the team you currently have, but it also may mean you are going to shift your team focus to your branding identity. Overall, the brand development process is going to need to be a realistic goal to get your team in line with your brand development strategy. Employees’ perspective should be heard, shared, and incorporated, if appropriate. We’ve written a great blog on how to make your employees your best brand ambassadors with company-wide brand buy-in and implementation.
5) The Visuals
The voice, colors, logo, layout, message and format are all important parts of your brand development strategy as a way to clearly—and quickly—identify your company’s essence. You will want to have a consistent approach to branding that appeals to your target audience, sets you apart from the competition, and matches your company direction. While your brand visuals (logo being a part of that) are only one part of your brand development process, many companies make the mistake of thinking this is the only part they need to worry about.
However, the look and feel isn’t going to be consistent or effective if you don’t first consider the other four essential branding features along the way. The research you conduct during the brand development process informs this portion of the brand messaging as strongly as the rest. All of this work gets skillfully interpreted by a design team to create the visual representation of your brand. Did you know that you have approximately 7 seconds for people to identify (with) your brand when they hop on a webpage? (And that stands in direct competition with webpage load times: visitors are clicking off of pages within 3 seconds if they don’t load properly!)
A brand’s strongly recognizable visual representation is crucial, but more goes into developing it than simply placing colors on a page or text in a sequence. Designing an effective logo requires skill and balance of elements because a logo’s “job” is to identify a company or brand, and is not intended to define it—yet all that brand development work is what defines your logo.
Your Building Blocks
When you work with these five essential building blocks while creating your brand development strategy, your industrial manufacturing company will be better aligned to attract and serve the very best prospects, and ultimately your bottom line. Grant Marketing, a Boston-based marketing firm that specializes in B2B brand strategy consulting, can walk you through the brand development process to help uncover or clarify your brand messaging. If your branding strategy needs help, we are happy to review your current approach with you so you can improve your process. To get started, click on the button below and download our Brand Report Card. See how well you are connecting with your customers.