“You’ve got to stay right on the leading edge in order to be a competitive production shop,” shared Barclay A. Townsend, president of Townsend Machine, Inc., when we asked how important it is for a manufacturing company to look up to date.
I recently interviewed several manufacturing companies on this topic and all agreed that it’s very important to look up to date and cutting edge. Steve Rowe, the director of marketing at Esco Optics concurred, saying that, “It’s absolutely essential. In terms of our look and our brand, we want to be contemporary. We want to be seen as cutting edge.”
But there’s a difference between being cutting-edge and looking cutting-edge.
Your facility manufactures leading products, often used for very modern-day purposes. You may even serve industries that are creating products for the future. But are you making it easy for prospects to know this — and to see your value as a manufacturing company? Keep in mind that prospective buyers don’t always know about your top-of-the-line technology or impressive facility. They just know what you put out there — i.e., the picture you paint with your marketing. At first glance, does your brand and website clearly demonstrate that your manufacturing company is on the leading edge?
If not, you aren’t alone. Why is it that most manufacturing companies look like they’re still stuck in the ’70s? Likely because they don’t consider marketing important. But would you want to buy a computer from a company that looks like they haven’t updated their website in 20–50 years? You can’t blame prospects for overlooking your company if it appears old, outdated, and slow.
You’ve Built the Right Reality
You invest large sums of capital to ensure your equipment, facility, and software are top-notch. You keep your facility clean and organized — and even invite prospects to visit so that you can impress them. Simply put, you do everything it takes to provide the best services and products possible.
But your customers won’t know about all this value you can deliver if your branding lags behind. When I interviewed John Callahan III, president of Day Tool & Mfg. Inc., he shared that his company is, “Very technologically advanced, and always on the cutting edge of technology and the CNC world. Tooling, software, machines, computers — we try to keep everything very current. I think that’s what allowed us to stay very profitable over the years and grow. Keeping your shop advanced is absolutely critical.”
However, when it comes to marketing, the question isn’t whether your company is actually cutting edge. The real question to ask is, “Does my company look cutting-edge?” with “look” being the keyword.
What Impression Does Your Brand Make?
Before buyers visit your facility or discuss your equipment and processes, they begin to qualify your manufacturing company based on what they see out there in the world: your logo, website, trade-show booth, business card, catalog, and other elements that make up your brand. They take two or three seconds — that’s it! — to decide whether your company is worth a closer look.
So, before they see all of the new shiny machinery at your facility and meet your talented staff, they’re qualifying you based on your branding and marketing. If you make it past that initial impression, your sales team may get a chance to show off your equipment and facility.
So the question is, “Are you making it past that initial impression?”
Brand for the Future
Successful companies understand the value of their brand and continually invest in it to stay ahead. That’s why you see companies like UPS, Pepsi, FedEx, Apple, and many others update their brands frequently. These companies are old, but you’d never know it from looking at their brands. They rely on the power of perception to instill faith and trust in their capabilities. Meanwhile, you can have the most advanced products or services around, but without a strong brand to go with it, few are going to know about those distinguishers.
Such was the case with AK Stamping. The company was doing everything it needed to in terms of its technology and services. But outdated branding was holding them back. When I asked director of sales Josh Kurz why he decided to rebrand the company, he shared that, “We felt that the old logo wasn’t a reflection of our company. We pride ourselves on providing technical solutions for our customers and staying on the cutting edge of technology and our logo didn’t show that. . . . It didn’t project a refined enough image of our brand. We wanted to reflect global capabilities and attract customers from all over the world.”
Cimquest: Case in Point
When your manufacturing company undergoes a rebrand, it’s important to think ahead. How do you want your company to be perceived moving forward? Your new brand strategy should be aimed at the future with the goal of taking you into the next 20–50 years.
That was the goal for Cimquest, a manufacturer of 3D printers and manufacturing software. Having been in the industry for more than 30 years, Cimquest knew that in order to stay relevant, they needed to keep their brand looking fresh and even futuristic. So they redesigned their logo, branding, collateral, and marketing.
Cimquest’s sharpened focus on advanced additive and subtractive manufacturing heavily influenced the new brand. The new look was designed to elevate perceptions of the company, reflect their industry, and propel them into the future. The image had to portray technological innovation while simultaneously pushing the envelope beyond the traditional look and feel of other manufacturing brands.
To achieve this, Cimquest drew inspiration from the electronic gaming industry to develop a custom design that was fresh, innovative, visually captivating, and futuristic. Naturally, the design was also inspired by the technical processes and value they bring to their customers.
Don’t Let Your Manufacturing Company Get Passed Up
I’ll leave the question with you: Does your manufacturing company look cutting edge? If not, prospects will never take the time to find out if it actually is. As the manufacturing world evolves toward Industry 4.0, if you appear to be outdated, you’ll be passed over for companies that project a more advanced image, whether or not that’s the reality. It may be time to refresh your look so you can continue to compete for many more years to come.