By Published On: November 14, 2023

So, you signed up for that tradeshow and you’re ready to make a big splash. Awesome. When you get there, take a walk around the floor and look at all the different ways companies are representing themselves through branding. Don’t just look at logos. Notice their brand colors, the images they choose for their booths and sales collateral (most will be product centric), and their messaging (most will be spec and feature centric).

We took this walk in September at the nation’s biggest renewable energy conference, RE+ 2023, and made many observations including this one: Some are killing it; some not so much. Those lagging behind seem to be start-ups and smaller players who are new to the market.

That’s understandable. Most of their funds have likely been funneled into product research, design, development, and launch. Or maybe they’re not sure how to do it. Or even why they need to. Or they already have a brand, but it’s outdated or has a coffee stain and needs to be refreshed.

If any of this sounds familiar, this blog is for you. It’ll help you understand the importance of having a brand that reflects who you are, offer some tips on how to get there, and show real-life examples of how it’s done.

A stake in the ground

A brand is a promise of an experience. It communicates who you are, how you behave, and what you believe in. It’s the face and personality your company presents to the world—expressed through words, tone of voice, and visual design. It’s your opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition and influence the people you want to do business with.

Your visuals should convey confidence

An attractive logo, quality images, a consistent color palette, and typography and style choices across all your marketing materials shows the world you have your ducks in a row. As a complete package, your visuals convey personality, professionalism, reliability, and a sense of trustworthiness to your buyers. This ultimately creates a lasting impression on them by differentiating yourself from other companies who, at first glance, appear to be selling the same thing you are.

Your messaging should solve problems

The messaging part of your brand is just as important than the visuals. Focusing solely on the features of your products positions you as a commodity. Instead, your brand should address your customers’ problems and make them feel like you care. Ask yourself (even better, ask them): What keeps them up at night? And how can your products help them finally get some sleep? By framing your messaging in a way that resonates with your customers’ pain points, you establish an emotional connection and position your brand as a problem solver, not just another company trying to sell them something.

Content marketing for SEO and building trust

Speaking of solving problems, to truly build your brand authority, you need to hitch your horse to the content marketing bandwagon. By creating valuable and informative content with keywords and phrases your audience is searching for, you’ll get found and start building trust. Through blog posts, whitepapers, videos, and social media content, you can educate, inform, engage, and even entertain your prospects and customers, nurturing a relationship that goes beyond a transactional exchange. Content marketing allows you to showcase your unique expertise and personality and helps you get found when people are seeking answers to their burning questions.

The impact of branding on customer loyalty

Customer loyalty is the holy grail of any business, and strong branding plays a vital role in cultivating it. When a customer feels emotionally connected to your brand and believes in its values, they are more likely to stay loyal and continue doing business with you. By creating emotional connections and building long-term relationships, you enhance customer retention and pave the way for repeat business. It’s not just about selling products; it’s about building a community of loyal supporters.

Brand Differentiation from Competitors

In a sea of competitors, flaunting your attributes is the best way to get noticed. Your brand must stand out and be memorable. You may offer products and services like others in your category, so set yourself apart by highlighting your competitive advantages, discussing the benefits of your unique value proposition, and showing your target audience how your values align with theirs.

Case Study Examples

Here are a few inspiring stories of manufacturers that upped their branding game with a little help from their friends (us). The people and teams who lead these niche companies were new to the branding process. But they weren’t afraid to step outside their comfort zones to build something meaningful. All of them will tell you the work paid off.

  • Humanizing a brand: TWG was growing through company acquisitions and was facing some hefty sales goals. Their website looked like a parts catalog and their customers were confused about their multiple brands. By restructuring their brand architecture and refocusing their marketing materials on humans instead products and parts, they are now positioned as a leader in their industry who cares about the success of their customers and those who buy from their customers.
  • Unifying a voice: Cook Compression is a leader in their category, but their brand voice didn’t reflect it. Through research, they uncovered their market differentiators, authentic tone and voice characteristics, and key messaging areas, so a positioning statement and brand story could be developed. With one unified voice, they gained a whole new level of confidence in their business.
  • Becoming a thought leader: Tennant has the best technology, highest quality products, and is the top service provider in industrial cleaning equipment, but saying it wasn’t enough. They had to prove it with thought leadership content. Through the development and execution of a full content plan, they carved out a distinctive position in the industry and attracted customers who align with their brand values.

Having a strong brand is essential for manufacturers in today’s competitive market. Your brand visuals should convey your personality, while your messaging should focus on solving your customers’ problems. Through content marketing, you can build trust and establish your brand authority. Branding also plays a crucial role in cultivating customer loyalty and differentiating yourself from competitors. So, don’t underestimate its power—or you might get left behind.

About the Author: Danette Knickmeier

Danette Knickmeier
The number of hats Danette wears at the agency rivals the number of toppings you can put on a pizza. Now seven years into her second residency at cat&tonic, she enjoys putting her many talents to use, including (but not limited to) account services, project management, strategic planning, copy and content writing, general operations, and snack ordering. Her wicked planning skills and natural ability to keep projects on task—without annoying all parties involved—make her our go-to, get-it-done person. Danette’s first stint at [c&t] lasted six years before she got the itch to try on a few larger agencies for size. She grew professionally and made several life-long friends in those days, but she missed the small agency vibe and was eagerly welcomed back by her life-long [c&t] friends.
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