MM 095 - Branding Strategy for Manufacturing

    This week we talk all about branding strategy for manufacturers. Is it worth the time and effort? Chris Wirthwein shares his experience and answers the question with some 'yes' and some 'no'. In short, a strong manufacturer brand can be a huge advantage if approached from a customer centric approach. Listen and learn if you should pursue branding or just let it die.


    • "Brand" is what you have and "branding" is what you do. Brand is a perception of your company. Branding is the things that you do that affect those perceptions. [4:20]
    • Consider owned, earned and paid media for branding activities. Chris recommends emphasizing the owned type. [10:10]
    • Interesting idea; what your sales people say to customers and prospective customers is owned media. Your employees could even be considered as owned media. [12:00]
    • It's important to understand the difference between the corporate brand and the product brand. [14:50]
    1. Consistency
    2. Credibility
    3. Desirability
    4. Uniqueness
    5. Do-ability

    • Poor brand alignment can cause a lot of problems including recruitment of talent, value of a company and profit. [21:20]
    • Chris comes to the conclusion that branding strategy is not dead for B2B manufacturers. Branding is, indeed, an opportunity to gain competitive advantage. [30:50]

    Interview Questions:

    Question 1: Let’s start off with some basic definitions. The words brand and branding get thrown around a lot…what are the definitions?

    We’re all familiar with consumer branding – Super Bowl ads, promotions, packaging and a big emphasis on imagery and social media buzz – is that type of branding that you would recommend for B2B manufacturers?

    Question 2: Most of the manufacturing marketers out there listening are operating on lean resources, few people and small budgets with a ton of stuff they need to get done each and every day. Stuff which may or may not include branding or building brand awareness.

    Why should a B2B manufacturer spend precious time and money into building its corporate brand?

    Are there some common characteristics of successful B2B brands?

    Is there a business case that can be made for putting money into branding?

    Question 3: We’ve established the definition and the reasons why brand awareness is important. Let’s get to the core of the issue. How does a manufacturer go about understanding what his/her brand is…and what it could and should be?

    The subtitle of your book is A Blueprint for B2B Brand and Culture Transformation. What does culture have to do with brand for B2B manufacturers?

    Question 4: So…bottom line…is branding dead for B2B manufacturers? Should they be prioritizing the tactical marketing like social media, webinars, digital marketing, email marketing and putting branding lower on the priority scale?

    So why don’t more manufacturers do the work of building their brand?

    Challenge Question:

    This week our challenge question comes from a CMO at a larger size manufacturer $2 billion annual revenue. Here it is: “I’ve introduced the idea of content marketing to our company where the product culture is extremely strong. Sales and Product rule the strategic decisions. I understand and the love the idea of using knowledge to gain awareness and even generate leads. But, I’m having a hard time selling the idea to the rest of the leadership team. I think the CEO will support me, but I get some eye rolls and snickers from the CFO and VP Sales. Do you have any tips or, even better, examples of how to overcome a strong product culture when content marketing is introduced?”

    • Use customer information to support the hypothesis. Use the customer as the reason.
    • Make the point that the competitors are not using content marketing and it is an opportunity.
    • Tell leadership that you want to expose the vast knowledge contained in the experience of the employees.
    • Put it in their world, ask them (leadership) to describe how they go through the buying process for a personal item, then ask them why the company is not meeting the customer in the same way.


    • A brand is 80% behavior as compared to the logo, etc.
    • There must be internal and external alignment around brand.

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