It may surprise some readers that there are still companies today that are driven by manufacturing.
So what does that have to do with branding?
Even manufacturing-driven companies are branded, usually by their customer base and industry leaders. The branding process is actually unconscious on the manufacturer’s part. It just happens.
I was employed by such a company.
For five years I reported to the Vice President of R&D at CoorsTek (then still named Coors Porcelain Company), the nation’s leading supplier of highly engineered, custom-designed ceramic parts and products. My job was to assess various ceramic applications Coors was not serving because they had neither the material nor plant to fabricate them. Many were future applications for high temperature, and/or highly stressed components, mostly for energy-related technologies.
But I also provided much of the information and thought concerning the company’s strategic positioning. I strongly urged the company to change its name from the archaic Coors Porcelain Company. I suggested back in the early 1980’s that they needed to be more conscious of branding and marketing, not just rely on their sales force to establish relationships – which they did exceptionally well.
Over time, after I’d left to form my own company, the company did become Coors Ceramics. And after acquiring metals and plastic fabrication facilities tthey became CoorsTek.
CoorsTek thrives today as a well-equipped engineered materials fabrication provider for most problem applications in electronics, transportation, paper making, electric utilities, materials handling systems, etc.
Coors “survived” a major thrust from Japanese competitors, particularly Kyocera in the electronics industry in the 1980’s. But over time its ability to work with customers, to develop relationships with engineers who specified the product, made them able to capture major market shares in the most profitable application areas. It has also survived several reorganizations performed by its then-parent company, Coors Brewery. Now completely independent, the company has developed a reputation for materials and fabrication know-how second to none. .
So what’s the point?
Their reputation is their brand.
Even manufacturing-driven companies are branded through reputation.
Now, as a successful and progressive company CoorsTek is beginning to pay attention to its brand. I am really impressed with their web site, CoorsTek. They now present themselves as a leader and a problem solver. If you go there, click on the “History” link to see just how far they’ve come.
Their current tagline, Amazing Solutions, speaks to the unique materials they have formulated as well as the fabricating processes they have developed.
Did branding get them where they are today? I don’t think their attempts at branding did so, I think their performance in the marketplace branded them. Today’s “new image” will, I believe, help them maintain and grow their brand, but for them and most B2B marketers, brand is tied directly and strongly with performance.