Contract manufacturers: your brand identity is not what you think it is.
Now, by that I don’t mean that you are under a misconception about your brand, I mean that your brand identity is whatever your customers, and potential customers think it is – not what you think it is.
It’s more than a logo or a tagline. Every aspect of your business will shape your brand identity in the minds of potential customers. If it isn’t something you have considered deliberately, then you won’t have much control over how your company comes across to potential buyers.
Perhaps you don't even see yourself a brand.
But this leaves you at risk of misrepresenting what you have to offer or simply not standing out from the crowd. And that’s crucial if you are a contract manufacturer.
Differentiating your offer and communicating why OEMs should choose your contract manufacturing solutions over everybody else’s, is the key to success in this market.
What is your brand identity?
A brand identity isn't just the image you try to project. How you do business, communicate, and deliver your solutions, alongside what you manufacture and your pricing, will inform how buyers see your company.
Your brand identity needs to include a deliberate choice about how you will carry out your business and how you will appear to anyone considering partnering with you.
You must be clear about your company's mission, vision, and values. When your company embodies those three things in its everyday workings, they become part of your company culture and the narrative you are creating about your company.
When you express that culture as a narrative, you give your potential customers something they can engage with to help them decide whether they want to buy from you.
Developing your brand narrative
Communicating your brand narrative will help OEMs decide whether you can answer their needs.
Ideally, you want to attract buyers whose problems you can solve while subtly signalling to unsuitable customers that you would not be a good partner for them.
Taking control of your brand narrative lets you communicate effectively with potential buyers. Understanding what you have to offer and what makes your company distinct means that you can express to customers what you are uniquely placed to do for them.
OEMs are looking for solutions for their particular problems, so they need to understand which problems you can solve for them and the benefits you offer.
Your brand narrative tells a potential customer whether they are the buyer you are set up to cater to. Your narrative is what shows them whether your values and vision match their specific needs. How you deliver and how you work may be just as important to an OEM as the service you are offering, especially if other contract manufacturers offer similar services.
If OEMs see themselves reflected in your brand narrative, they are more likely to think your service is the best fit for them.
The power of stories
People respond to narratives. Stories are a powerful way of communicating, and people are more likely to remember information with a narrative shape.
When buyers see themselves in your company story, they feel understood and recognised, which encourages confidence. Your customers want to feel that you understand their particular needs. If your brand narrative highlights their pain points and aligns with their end goals, they will feel confident that you can address their issues effectively.
Putting the customer at the heart
Centre your customer in your brand narrative. Make your story about them so that they can easily see how you can benefit them. People respond well to stories that centre around them and reflect their experiences.
To achieve this, you need to understand your customers and build substantial insight into their needs. When your customers find your brand narrative meaningful and relevant, they will see you as a potential partner.
Conveying your value
Include in your brand narrative information about how your specific services and company culture alleviates the customer pains you have identified. Be explicit about customer gains and what it is that you are uniquely able to provide.
Customers need to know the value you alone can offer them – so you need to know what makes you different from your rivals and which customer problems you have a specific way of solving.
Creating an emotional connection
Building a brand narrative allows you to build an emotional connection with buyers. This is an important aspect of your content strategy. Most people do not make purely logical and rational decisions, even when purchasing for their own businesses.
Engaging people emotionally makes them more likely to buy from you. If your messaging inspires customers or moves them in some way, they are more likely to remember you and be motivated to buy from you.
Emotional engagement is most effective when it doesn't seem manipulative. While fear and anxiety can be effective for some kinds of advertising, these strategies don't build confidence and won't lead a customer to want to build a relationship with you.
Instead, think about inspiring trust and confidence. If people feel reassured or encouraged by what you offer, that will be more likely to lead to long-term investment in working with your company. If your buyers feel supported, understood and valued, they will be more interested in partnering with you. If your way of working can make your customers feel ethical, confident and effective, they will likely act on those feelings.
When you centre your customers in your brand narrative, you demonstrate you value them and want a long-term partnership with them. OEMs need to see that you have thought about their problems and are focused on bringing them solutions that will work for them. This approach inspires trust and emotional engagement that can turn potential customers into actual customers.
More than just 'another supplier'
In a saturated market, you won't stand out if you look like just another contract manufacturer. Brand positioning is vital. Rather than trying to be all things to all customers, you need to know your particular strengths and express them to customers in a way that makes sense to them.
They aren't just buying a solution from you; they are buying every aspect of how you deliver that solution. This gives you considerable scope for identifying things that make your company uniquely valuable.
When you know what your company stands for, you can express how your values and vision help define the solutions only you can offer. What's key is how your customers perceive you. They need to see how your unique qualities will benefit them and how your brand relates to theirs.
By understanding your own company and the nature of the companies you wish to deal with, you can position your brand so that OEMs easily recognise what you stand for and how that will benefit them. If your brand identity resonates with them, this will make you attractive.
When customers resonate with your brand and find your narrative emotionally engaging, they are more likely to be loyal. Emotional engagement creates sales and profit, and your brand narrative is key to achieving this.
If you can make your brand narrative engaging and make your customer feel like they are the hero of your story, you can stand out from the crowd. When you position your company as the answer to real problems experienced by the customer and focus on how you can meet the customer's needs, you have a story that can set you apart from your competitors.
As a contract manufacturer, communicating clearly through your brand narrative means attracting the OEMs you are best placed to work with and who will most value what you can offer.