Your brand, your promise
Isambard Kingdom Brunel is possibly the most famous name in British engineering. Along with his innovations in construction and design, he also set new standards in branding. With his trademark stovepipe hat and cigar, Brunel knew the value of his image as an unspoken promise of expertise and uncompromising quality. In the modern-day engineering sector, with multiple communication channels, marketing is more complex, but the role of branding remains the same – your brand is your reputation, your promise.
In a global marketplace, marketing is critical to business growth. With such intense competition, differentiating your business can be tough. Branding is too often seen as a cosmetic exercise, but there’s much more to it than good looks. Dyson vacuums may look different, but they also deliver genuine customer benefits and improved functionality. The key is in understanding the needs of the user. The Dyson brand promises something better, and duly delivers.
Industry 4.0 demands a smarter approach to marketing that prioritises customer benefits over product features. The huge opportunities presented by new technologies to boost efficiency, productivity and profitability make good business sense but require adoption across the entire supply chain, and this could in turn require the buy-in of multiple stakeholders, from finance to operations. Smart marketing is complex, and needs a strategic approach. Moreover, with the forthcoming GDPR legislation forcing companies to clean up their data, brands will need permission to communicate with people directly. That means traditional “broadshot” marketing channels, such as advertising and trade shows, may become increasingly important. Maintaining consistency across all of these executions is harder than it may seem.
A side effect of this may be that it becomes harder to account for marketing’s effectiveness. Whereas email and social media campaigns are easy to track, the impact of an advertisement is more difficult to measure. What metrics should you use anyway? Is marketing solely judged on sales figures? Obviously return on investment is crucial, but what about longer-term benefits such as customer loyalty? Do you really need to market to existing customers, so long as they were satisfied with their previous purchase? Well, you can bet that your competitors will be offering all kinds of incentives to get them to switch.
GDPR may make it harder to connect with people by email, but the importance of digital as a marketing channel will only grow. Screens of various sizes are now the dominant medium, so your website remains the most important thing in your toolkit. Good design combines form with function and requires attention to the practicalities of user experience, as well as aesthetics. Driving traffic will be even more of a challenge under GDPR, so technical aspects such as search engine optimisation (SEO) must be up to scratch too.
Brunel’s smart approach to branding ensured that his image was unmistakably associated with the first Industrial Revolution. Getting your marketing right can help keep your business at the forefront of the fourth, and add value to your bottom line. After all, stovepipe hats are expensive.
Iain Humphrey Managing Director, Oyster Studios