The Key to a Great Industrial Brand Strategy?

Posted on Mar 6, 2011 by Kerry O'Malley

Bring Your Brand to Life

What do you think is the key to a great industrial brand strategy?After many years of creating marketing communications that were intended to take an industrial brand’s message to its target audience, I really believe the key is to bring the brand to life.So how in the world do you do THAT?

I love the rags to riches story of two brothers, Bert and John Jacobs, founders of the “Life is good” clothing brand.Their “company” began on the streets of Boston, where they first started hawking t-shirts at street fairs and going door-to-door trying to sell in college dorms. They weren’t having much success until they came upon the simple drawing of the cartoonish grinning character they called Jake. After printing 48 t-shirts with Jake and the “Life is good” logo brand that they had used for a number of years, they went into Cambridge to once again try selling their t-shirts at a street fair. The 48 Jake shirts were sold by noon that day and they had discovered how to bring life to their brand. Soon after Jake was introduced to local retailers, sales began to skyrocket and the REAL company was born.

I know this story isn’t about an industrial company, or even a BtoB company; but I get inspiration from all kinds of marketing success stories, regardless of the type of business.It may take a bit more creativity, but it IS possible to bring life to an industrial service or manufacturing company’s brand.

 Before a company can truly go forward with a brand strategy, it needs to go through a process of determining its value proposition and unique offering in the marketplace.From that, the desired brand image will emerge.There are really only three main types of differentiators in competitive positioning: lowest price; best product or technology; or best overall solutions and customer focus. Of course, each business will have a slightly different twist on how its offering is described in a value proposition statement; but regardless of the product or service you sell and the way you differ from your competitors, the bottom line is being able to state how THAT meets your customers’ unique needs and requirements.

Having an emotional appeal with your offering is always a plus.Statistics show that advertising campaigns that tug heavily on emotions are typically more successful.However, industrial companies can’t rely on brand icons (like Jake) and emotional hooks (like “life is good.”)Manufacturers and industrial service providers are often selling to engineers, mid-level production personnel, and typically overworked, no-nonsense left-brainers who can be hard to sway, emotionally.

I think the answer lies in integrating the brand’s promise and personality into the company’s corporate culture.The brand is defined, and comes to life through the company’s PEOPLE.If a company is going to not only maximize the full intellectual capital within their organization AND deliver their brand promise so that it begins to build brand equity, they need to fully engage their employees with the brand promise and values.

A company’s workforce is one of its most valuable assets.It is the company’s employees who are the face of the brand, whether the business sells valves or provides industrial safety services.It must be the employees who translate an organization’s strategy into reality as they interact with customers and prospects, for it is in their minds that the brand is truly determined.

I have lots of ideas for integrating a company’s brand vision throughout the organization – some I’ve used and some I have on tap for upcoming projects.  What are some things you’ve done to infuse your brand’s personality into the hearts and minds of your company’s employees?

Author: Kerry O'Malley

Marketects was founded in 1999 by Kerry O’Malley, a proven marketing communications professional in international, manufacturing companies. Working on the “other side of the desk,” she hired ad agencies to manage her employers’ advertising and P/R programs. Frustrated over the lack of attention and level of enthusiasm she was looking for in the marketing agencies she worked with, Kerry realized that there was a definite need for a full-service marketing firm that specialized in working with industrial companies. She resolved that her clients would always receive the highest level of service possible and never feel like the last kid chosen for the team.

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