Branding for Machine Shops

Brands are a “short-hand” method to remind your customer and prospective customer of what they can buy from your company that they can’t buy anywhere else.

Branding is all the rage and has been for the past several years.

Branding is all the rage and has been for the past several years. It has reached the point that not long ago numerous dotcoms spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to create an “instant brand.” It didn’t work, it won’t work, and the demise of many of these same dotcoms followed. So what is branding, how does it apply to small business, and how can you use the tool to help your company be more successful?

Brands are a “short-hand” method to remind your customer and prospective customer of what they can buy from your company that they can’t buy anywhere else (real or perceived). Implicit in that statement is that there is something behind the brand. Branding is not just a slogan, ad or ad campaign, symbol, shape or logo, sound or jingle, spokesperson, or product, but it may include some or all of these items. The issue is the confusion of the tactics of branding with the Brand concept. Branding is a set of tactics that can be used to create awareness and connection with a brand. However, without a fundamental value proposition targeted at an identifiable market, branding will not create a brand.

As stated above, a brand represents the unique value(s) of your shop’s services and capabilities in the mind of the customer and prospective customer. Branding is a set of tactics designed to create brand awareness. Unfortunately, too many companies attempt to use branding as a substitute for creating a brand. This is usually an expensive and wasted set of activities.

Good branding is designed to leverage the value you propose to provide in the mind of the customer or prospect. However, it is not useful for creating that value. Name awareness without an understanding of the value inherent in the “name” does not create a brand—it simply wastes money. If your brand does not provide value (real or perceived) in the mind of the customer or prospect, they have no reason to remember your name, and your branding activities are doomed.

If a brand does not provide any value to the customer (either real or perceived), then ultimately your branding activities will fail. The customer won’t pay for costs that don’t add value. So, branding activities that aren’t tied to a potentially successful brand result in lower profits. Therefore, if you intend to create a brand and build that brand through branding tactics (which cost money), then the brand must add value for the customer.

How does a Brand add value for a customer? Simple—it is the mind-trigger that reminds the customer of the value they can acquire from the goods/services represented by the brand. In today’s frenetic world, useful mind-triggers save time, and time is a very valuable resource.

If a brand provides value for the customer, then it can and should be valuable to the company. Brands, created by a value difference (real or perceived) and effective branding tactics, provide a company with a useful difference in the market. The process of finding and understanding your company’s difference and then creating that mind-trigger for customers provides your company with a powerful competitive weapon in the market.

The bottom line is that it is seductive to embark on a branding campaign without having thought through your brand strategy. This is the path too many companies take, and it results in countless wasted dollars at best and failed companies at worst. Don’t be seduced by the flash of branding tactics, whether it be a “Super Bowl” ad, or a new promotional campaign without asking yourself, from the customers’ perspective, so what?

Creating a valuable brand is a process. The bad news is it doesn’t happen quickly. The good news is that your competitors are most likely too impatient to do it right. This leaves you with a potential competitive advantage, if you want to use it.

Mitch Goozé is a partner with Customer Manufacturing Group, a marketing consulting company. He can be reached at 408-987-0140 or at mgooze@customermfg.com.