When I first read this question on January 3, 2011 my instinctive response was more haughty than informative.
Why do we need a sense of purpose?
Why do we need a personality?
Why do we need reputations, character, values, and credibility? A sense of style, belonging, history, and place in this world?
Today a new question specifies “Do I need a brand in industrial manufacturing?” that puts both questions in perspective.
The goal of a brand is to align what you do and how you do it around a simple, relevant and meaningful concept (brand promise) that can be delivered consistently, provokes interest, and woos customers.
With that definition in mind every manufacturer, company, utility, school, office/apartment complex, church, distributor, not-for-profit, television network, association, government agency, and auto dealership needs a brand.
I know many B2B industrial product manufacturers that compete in very narrow niches; they know who wants the product, what the needs are, what’s at risk, where to find the customer, and how to talk their language. Credibility, service, price, innovation, geography, and established relationship dominate the unemotional decision to buy rationale. In this niche brand awareness is only as reliable as the strength of the product endorsed.
Well-defined brands can better carve an organizational niche through developed culture, operations, communications, and strategic relationships.
1.) A brand guards the mission and customer-centric boundaries that inform major strategic decisions and operational decision making of leadership day in and day out. The brand focuses the in-house situational intelligence.
2.) With the proper care and feeding contributors are equipped with an intimate sense of where the purpose-driven organization is and should go, how it should respond, and what it should not be distracted by, in every department and situation.
3.) A brand relevant strategy has the power to elevate an organization of any size to greater levels of success; freeing small businesses to compete head-to-head with larger competitors with longer reputations and less passion.
4.) If you’re an industry underdog or leader that wants to demonstrate your relevance after all these years, cultivate new uses and markets, humanize your industry, enhance your work place identity and culture, broaden the conversations, or woo sharp and innovative contributors to your company then a cohesive brand image is critical to launching and communicating the way forward.
5.) If you have innovated a stronger, cheaper, more versatile, or less toxic product that doesn’t compromise the integrity of the industry standard solution a tough talking brand will be necessary to advantage the disruptive new market entrant.
6.) There are countless exceptions and caveats, intended and unintended benefits of brand development and management; too many to itemize here. However, we put a body of research together in 2008 that we refer to in-house as “Brand Relevance” that we’ll publish on the BlackDog blog…check it out if you want more on this topic