‘Branding’ is often considered to be bit of an extravagance in industrial marketing. That’s because most people associate it with corporate style books, expensive graphic consultancy and the huge budgets needed to imprint a name into the public consciousness. If you’re a small outfit concentrating on building close personal relationships with your customers, the way you present yourself may not be a very high priority. And that’s a shame, because it demonstrates how branding is perhaps misunderstood.
Branding is about the ‘image’ you project to prospects. A logo and corporate colours are a part of this, of course. But in industrial marketing, they’re not nearly as important as what your brand stands for, and this should be a lot less woolly.
For example, I can think of 3 or 4 companies in different engineering sectors who’ve spent years putting a lot of effort into producing technical handbooks on their area of technology. I wrote an article on this many years ago, and met one salesperson who said that he’d actually moved to one of these companies from a competitor. He’d seen one of these handbooks on the shelf in almost every design office he walked into, and got fed up of not being with the company who ‘wrote the book’ on the subject. These companies were ‘branded’ by default as being the experts, and if you wanted to sell against them, you’d need to find another angle.
So, branding is about what people associate with your name. I suspect that under the pressure of everyday business, most companies forget about how they’d like to be seen. There are many strategies you can pursue – writing technical guides and being the company which always pops up with the answers is certainly one. However, if your USP is something less technical, a branding advertising campaign can be worthwhile. Several of our search advertising clients set aside a small amount each month (often as little as £100) to make sure that every time someone searches for their name, there’s a significantly sized advert at the top of the Google results which reinforces their brand message. They try to reflect this in all of their marketing communications.
But to begin with, they need to work out what they want their brand to represent.