Historically, engineering businesses develop as product-led businesses or engineering-led businesses. Their focus is on innovative technology and/or expertise, allowing them to take a product either from concept to market or from engineering problem to solution.
Times, however, are changing. Every business needs to think about its name and brand identity, and what that conveys to its customers. A brand-led business will think about this early on and leverage that brand as part of its wider identity, encouraging a favourable response from their market with a view to promoting it, both now and in the future not only for its existing products but more widely.
HOW DOES AN ENGINEERING COMPANY BENEFIT FROM A STRONG BRAND?
A strong brand enables an engineering business to align its identity with the message it wishes to promote, the values that it wants to convey and catch the eye of a potential customer to convince them that there is a product they want to buy, not only because of the product itself but also because of the strength of the brand identity.
A valuable IP portfolio
A strong brand should be capable of protection, ideally through registered IP rights. Building a portfolio of registered IP improves the assets of your business which will not only help you protect your technology and brands but is also highly attractive to business partners, including investors.
Your brand should “speak” to your target audience. Creating a strong brand message that resonates with your market means you will convert first-time customers and more likely to retain customers interested in repeat purchases or who explore wider interest in your product line. Customer loyalty pays dividends when you diversify and bring new products to market.
Establishing a positive brand identity helps you to stand out from your competitors for all the right reasons. In a market where your competitors may not be capitalising on their own brand value, this can differentiate your business, allowing you to command premium pricing and increase visibility to existing and new consumers.
More powerful marketing
Having a clearly defined brand will give your marketing a framework to create credible, consistent and compelling marketing campaigns. Marketing a strong brand achieves customer engagement and, ultimately, drives better business.
A platform for future innovation
A strong brand needs be well tended. Once your brand is defined and successful in the market, you can use it to de-risk continued innovation, when you improve existing products, collaborate with other businesses, or create new complimentary product lines.
Meeting changing customer demands
Articulating your brand clearly allows your customers to see, and hopefully identify with, your commercial values. A good example of this in the engineering sector is sustainability. Customers want to engage with businesses that demonstrate a commitment to their environmental and sustainability commitments. By building these values into your business’ brand identity, your potential customers can see that your values align with theirs.
Attracting top talent
Your future success will be heavily dependent on your ability to attract the best people, not just employees but collaborators, influencers and business partners. Raising the strength of your brand will attract a wider pool of talent with whom you can leverage to fund, market, and expand your business.
IF THE IDEA OF BRAND-LED ENGINEERING IS ATTRACTIVE, WHAT SHOULD YOU DO NEXT?
Let’s assume you are getting ready to launch a new product to market. Perhaps you’ve created a name and a brand identity that conveys your values and provides easy recognition of your product and business. You now need to think about your next steps…
Are you planning to scale up manufacture?
This is a nice problem to have - it means you have a successful product! But you need to think carefully about how you’ll scale up production. Moving your manufacturing base to a cheaper country is attractive financially, but it also makes it difficult to ensure quality and key agreements need to be in place. Moving production to lower-cost countries, opens you up to the risk of people infringing your IP rights. Having a strong brand, that is well protected, should help you as you move further afield and need to register and enforce rights in a wider range of territories.
Don't forget the risk of counterfeiting...
When counterfeiters see a product doing well, they’ll try and copy it. This doesn’t just impact designer brands, and we regularly see copycat products for technology or consumer devices and products that appear on various online marketplaces or are seized at customs borders.
You need to remain vigilant at all times, taking steps to protect your rights in all relevant territories and actively policing your brands. You can monitor the internet and ensure you take down online sales of copycat products and you can register IP rights at customs borders to help authorities to ensure they seize any infringing products at the point of import or export.
What are your expansion plans?
If you plan to expand by moving into new territories and new markets with new products, what will they be called? Are you going to have new brands in different countries or will you try to keep your product names and brands consistent worldwide? If so, you should take steps to register rights early on, before third parties seize the opportunity to capture those registered rights before you. If you plan to launch a range of sub-brands, it is crucial that your “house” brand is as strong as possible and well differentiated in the market, so that your customers are aware that the product lines are connected to your and not a competitor.
How do you plan to exploit your brand?
Licensing and brand extension offer lucrative ways to leverage a strong brand, particularly if your core market has been saturated. Licensing will allow you to capitalise on new markets with a demand for your products but where you have neither the expertise nor the investment to develop those products yourself. Although licensing can be a long term aspect of your business and brand’s growth, navigating the expansion safely is reliant on registered protection.
Without securing registered rights - and then monitoring and enforcing those rights - you are unlikely to be able to maximise licensing opportunities and achieve the level of growth, revenue and market share you want.
Creation and implementation of a comprehensive brand strategy from day one helps avoid these issues.
Your brand strategy will not only protect your brand at the outset, but will also underpin its path to growth and enable you to maximise the long-term value of your brand, engineering processes and products. Adopting a brand-led approach from day one puts you in a stronger position from which to grow and take advantage of the available opportunities to develop your product range and the reach of your brand.
Starting an engineering business places pressure to concentrate on a product-led approach - with the initial goal to perfect your product and attract investment. However, a purely product-led approach makes expansion difficult. A strong brand can help smooth over some of the challenges you’ll face as you start to build your product’s market position.
If you are an engineering business looking to create a strong brand to support your future success and would like to discuss any aspect of developing, managing, protecting and enforcing your brand, please contact us today.