Branding is an important aspect of any business. It is especially important in a Make to Order (MTO) and Engineer to Order (ETO) environment however. Often, when product development is on the forefront (which is usually the case) other aspects of the business get left behind. We want to show you how to create your process flow in order to maximize the benefit of branding, and how to ensure that you don’t build your brand as an afterthought to your product. By nailing down your flow, you’ll be able to increase sales and evolve your company.
Company Branding vs. Product Branding
It is important to understand the distinction between branding your company and branding your product(s). Branding your product(s) is all about its value proposition, whereas your company brand is about who you are as a business and what makes you special. You company brand extends beyond your products into the realms of charity, employee benefits, industry distinction, etc. Take a company like Microsoft for example; Microsoft has branded their company to “help people and businesses realize their full potential”. This brand encompasses and is aligned with their products, but is separate from them. Most importantly, your product brand should not be your company brand. If your product fails, it should not kill your company.
Stop comparing your brand to your competition
When you are building your brand, think about who you are and what you want to represent; do this for both your company and your product. Avoid the temptation to look at how your competitors have branded themselves and their products. Focusing too much on your competition, and not enough on what makes your company and products unique will hinder you from evolving in your industry. It is important to set yourself apart from the crowd.
Building your brand as an afterthought
There are a lot of intricacies involved in building a product, especially when you’re in the custom product industry – so it’s only natural that more emphasis would be placed on building the product. However, you must also build your product’s brand to get awareness out there. Without proper branding that focuses on what makes your product unique, you may never see the ROI that you hope for. If you are going to spend valuable time on building a product then you should ensure you spend sufficient time branding it as well. In order to ensure you have the proper flow it’s incredibly important to plan for branding in the design phase, or at the very minimum simultaneous to product development. There are at least two parts to each equation and if product development is one and branding is the other, they must be harmonious to get the ideal end result.
Make to Order and Engineer to Order Product Branding
Allowing your customers to custom build a product is a huge selling feature for MTO and ETO companies. We’ve seen it in recent years in a retail fashion with Ikea Kitchens – where you can log on and visually design your custom kitchen, Trek – which enables consumers to build a custom bike from the ground up, and even Brooks Brothers – who allow customers to build an entirely custom suit. The uniqueness of the product is a bonus – but sometimes you really just require something that doesn’t already exist in standard form. A strong product brand for these customized items (and the ability to customize your items) is a great feature to set yourself apart from your competitors.
Commonly, if you have a custom product, oftentimes this product is built to (near) perfection, and the marketing and branding is left behind. The goal is to ensure that building your brand is synonymous with building your product – this will ensure that you have the benefit of your branding and your product to evolve your business. Without this process you’ll likely still succeed, but at a much slower rate – which could jeopardize future product development. Moving forward, remember to bolster your Make to Order products with stellar company and product branding that harmoniously brings together the business flow from sales to marketing to product development.