Branding is big business. And small business. And it should be plastics business, too.
The importance of brands is on the rise for businesses of all kinds, as observed in a recent Washington Post editorial picked up by publications across the country. The Post piece points out a fact that's particularly relevant to today's plastics manufacturers: that the ``book value'' of physical assets is no longer the main determinant of a company's enterprise value. Physical assets are now outweighed by intangibles - including brands.
Nevertheless, having led a number of seminars about branding at several events for plastics executives - including the Plastics News Executive Forum - I can say from experience that plenty of leaders out there still aren't paying attention to brands.
They do so at their peril.
A company's brand is its reputation, the sum of audiences' experiences with the enterprise. Every company has a brand, good or bad. But many plastics companies are still stuck in a pattern of features-and-benefits marketing that does little to demonstrate why a customer should choose Company X and its products or services over any of its competitors.
The numbers suggest that more focused brand building makes both short- and long-term, strategic sense. A clear, consistent brand can help a company gain a competitive advantage on the global stage, where quality products alone no longer can.
If accelerating sales and increasing enterprise value aren't enough incentive for you to pay attention to branding, then maybe one other branding benefit will pique your interest.
The Baby Boomers will be retiring soon in large numbers - taking their skills and going home. People refer to this reality as the ``graying of the labor force.'' Based on their large numbers, replacing the Baby Boomers in just about any company won't be easy. People are warning of impending worker shortages. Meanwhile, studies show that many manufacturers may not be doing enough to prepare for the change.
Your brand can play an important role in capturing the attention of the highly specialized talent you need to continue your success. A clear, consistent brand promotes the perception of strength and leadership.
Whether it's a game of recruiting and retaining, building enterprise value, or simply outselling the competition, there will be winners and losers in every industry - plastics included. In every case, the advantage lies with those who are building brands.
Scheibel is principal owner of Milwaukee-based marketing communications firm Scheibel Halaska Inc.