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Bringing Manufacturing Brands into the 21st Century

December 23, 2020
by Catherine Crandall

When I tell people I work in advertising, sometimes their eyes light up just before asking, “You mean like in Mad Men ?” The answer, technically, is yes; same industry, different time, different place. But then I guess it’s also believed to be true that “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” So much has changed since Don Draper ruled Madison Avenue, maybe as much as the belief in the power of an idea, and the ability to sell it, hasn’t. The real question―and trick―is: how do you keep time on your brand’s side? Stay relevant? Or in the words of Marks and Pearson, co-authors of the archetype bible The Hero and The Outlaw , how do you remain “Timeless but also timely” ? 

The average consumer today is a lot more sophisticated than the average consumer in 1960. Since the Internet boom, brands, like content, are ubiquitous. Instant and unlimited. And now in the COVID-era, everything has changed again―the Internet is no longer a lifeline, it’s the lifeline. While we’re stuck at home, our world is, too, shrunk down to fit inside the four walls we occupy, and then again into the many screens we use to work, research, shop, and stay connected. And yet, that world wasn’t the only one turned upside down. 

Manufacturers began to see a rise in prominence as companies and their employees were labeled essential or non-essential by the government. Companies closed, and everything seemed more unpredictable as the world waited to see what was next. Economies across the globe slowed as panic and uncertainty crept into the “new normal.” At that point, companies realized the need to get creative, and fast, especially those in the manufacturing field.

“It’s useless to be a Creative unless you can sell what you create.” 

– Don Draper

Many manufacturers ran to keep up with the increased demand of their own product, while others got creative applying their expertise to meet the new needs and challenges that COVID left in its wake. Companies that produced clothes began producing masks and PPE, while others that produced fragrances pivoted to create hand sanitizer, frontline gold. But while these brands’ processes and strategies were proving to be, to a certain degree, nimble, creative, innovative, their branding and materials were not. 

So why does branding even matter?

Well, we judge―it’s how we determine value. And consciously or not, we especially love to judge companies by their brand presence, which includes everything from the logo to the voice to the website’s user-experience. If your brand is talking innovation but not looking like innovation, where’s the credibility in that? Lost in an instant, most likely. And why? Because it’s intuitive that your brand’s aesthetic is a reflection of your consumer’s aesthetic, and your values a reflection of theirs. It isn’t a huge stretch to assume that if you haven’t updated your logo in 20 years, you probably haven’t updated your technology and processes either. Your brand presence is your first impression, so it’s crucial to communicate what’s really true about you: who you are at the core and even who you’re working to become. Otherwise, no one’s going to give you another opportunity. 

So how can the right partner help modernize your manufacturing brand for long-term relevance?

  1. Research and brand development. We know knowledge is power, and that taking the time to research and analyze data couldn’t be more important. Even if you think you know your market, it can be hard to take an objective internal assessment of your company and its competitors. Your agency, however, can. We’re here to remove the blind spots by asking the tough questions that will help your organization uncover the meaningful insights necessary to grow your brand. It can be uncomfortable, but it’s entirely essential. 
  1. Crafting a brand story. Your new partner can also help you evolve your brand appropriately, and pay homage to your strong roots while showing how you’ve evolved overtime. Companies often make the mistake of relying solely on a brand refresh to shake things up, but you shouldn’t ignore the opportunity to realign your brand story to reflect your current chapter, and most importantly, how that benefits the real hero: your consumer. Only when your conflict is clear can your solution be clear, too. That alignment creates the emotional impact crucial to every good story and brand consideration.  
  1. Finding new opportunities to elevate your brand. These opportunities can include creating an appropriate logo to fit your space, updating your website to reflect what you do (and what you’ve done!), and even refreshing your imagery to put your best face forward… all of these elements create a better experience for potential clients either on the search or soon to be. If it doesn’t look like you’re doing your own brand any favors, why would they trust you to elevate theirs? Without investing in your own brand’s self-improvement, you will have to work twice as hard to convince them you’re even capable. 
  1. Solidifying your current brand architecture and identifying systems to help you expand. Manufacturing often has unique brand architecture needs. The right agency can help you navigate those needs—and your unique solutions—to keep your brand and brand values consistent and undiluted. 

We hope it’s clear that manufacturing branding is no less important than any other company. As the cornerstone of economies across the globe, manufacturers deserve—demand, really—the same attention and opportunities to be relevant and competitive like any leading brand. If you’re interested to know how FUEL can help, we’d love to chat. 

FUEL specializes in branding. We’d love to talk to you about where your brand is. Contact us to start the conversation.

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