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Branding: Your Key to Success

October 1, 2006

3 Min Read
Branding: Your Key to Success

Don’t have a brand? Nonsense, says Mary Scheibel, principal of Scheibel Halaska, an integrated marketing communications firm (Milwaukee, WI), who claims that every firm has a brand and that brand has “hard value.” For some, such as Coca-Cola Co., the brand is the company’s value. “Its brand is worth nearly three times more than its tangible assets,” she emphasized. Scheibel and Mike Stefaniak, VP of client services at Scheibel Halaska, presented their thoughts during a marketing session at NPE 2006.

Stefaniak defines brand: “A company’s brand is the sum total of all of a customer’s experiences with your company. It’s a promise or commitment to produce a specific experience in every interaction with your company.” Processors often view their tangible assets—machinery, buildings, and other capital equipment—as comprising the primary value of the company. Yet, for too many manufacturers, their total value is less than the value of these net assets.”

Increased global competition, rising resin prices, and higher energy costs may be reasons for this but Scheibel challenged processors to look elsewhere. “What we’re not seeing is an understanding of branding and the significant impact a company’s brand has on market share and position, recruitment of top talent, and even entering new market sectors—not to mention the ability to command a premium price,” Scheibel said.

Lagging behind

A 2006 survey conducted by BtoB magazine revealed that brand awareness is increasingly important for business-to-business companies, with 21% of the marketing executives surveyed ranking “branding” as a top priority. Yet manufacturers traditionally lag behind. “This means that there is still a tremendous opportunity for plastics manufacturers to gain a competitive advantage through branding,” Scheibel said. “On the flipside, however, companies who don’t get on the bandwagon may soon find themselves losing out to more market-savvy competitors.”

These companies see branding as an investment rather than an expense, and recognize the direct correlation between a company’s brand and its value. In a list of the top 10 factors impacting enterprise value, Scheibel said brand value ranks #7, and seven of the 10 factors can be positively impacted by a strategic, brand-based marketing communications program, based on Scheibel Halaska research.

Getting buy-in for a branding initiative can be challenging, as it is often seen as an “expense” rather than an “investment.” Also, custom manufacturing, as most plastics processors and mold manufacturers perform it, is traditionally sales driven, not market driven.

A third factor involves the increasing role that computer software plays, facilitating DIY (do-it-yourself) branding efforts that harm consistent communications, Stefaniak said. “Just because someone knows how to use Photoshop does not mean that he or she has the competencies to keep communications to customers aligned with the brand,” he said. “DIY also results in far too many companies positioning their brands around entry-level attributes like quality, innovation, or the ability to provide a solution. In most cases, that simply won’t differentiate you from the competition.”

Soliciting the right input

Input into a processor’s brand should come from multiple decision makers within the company, most typically engineering, purchasing, finance, and operations. “It’s much more complex than selling a Wendy’s hamburger,” Stefaniak noted.

Scheibel and Stefaniak offered the following recommendations for processors embarking on a branding initiative:

1) Have a strong internal champion, preferably the CEO.

2) Solicit input from people throughout the organization.

3) Don’t base the brand purely on internal perceptions of the company. Conduct external research with customers. Benchmark against competitors and industry leaders.

4) Tell your own story. Don’t let your competitors define you.

5) Determine the industry niche you can own, and then go out and own it.

Clare Goldsberry | [email protected]

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