Manufacturing companies need to make sales to survive. To do that, manufacturers also need to invest in a savvy marketing strategy. But neither marketing or sales have any hope of success without a strong brand. While there is certainly overlap between branding, marketing and sales, a strong brand is the most important intangible asset a business owns. And it’s the first thing manufacturers need before launching a successful marketing and sales program.

What is “the brand” and why is it so important?

The brand is more than a name and a logo. It’s the holistic approach to the customer experience, company culture, sales and marketing. A strong brand inspires (and requires) consistency and adherence with the organization’s identity.

You can’t be everything to everyone, and a good brand helps your organization stay consistent when presenting your competitive edge. Knowing where your brand stands amongst competitors is essential to developing this identity, and helps guide employees on how to act and what to say. For example, if you want to be known for quick order fulfillment as part of your brand identity, your employees know they should prioritize fulfillment speed, and will be driven to go the extra mile to problem-solve fulfillment logistics. On the other hand, if you want to be positioned as the low-cost leader, everyone in your organization should be inspired to find clever ways to cut costs and lower operating expenses. If there is no strong brand, everyone has their own ideas on how to prioritize their work – which leads to conflict in the workplace and an inconsistent customer experience.

So, where do you start?

Before an effective marketing activity can be created, a solid brand must be built. This starts with an almost alarming level of self-awareness. What are you good at? What are you hearing from happy (and unhappy) customers? It can’t be done in a vacuum. Before planting a stake in the ground, your organization needs to be clear where you stand within the competitive landscape. Determine your top competitive advantages, and how those translate into your brand identity. Get stakeholders involved from all areas of the business, because, once established, everyone should be responsible for fulfilling your brand promise.

Once your brand identity has been established, launch it internally to all employees before taking it externally. The brand will only be successful if fully embraced by all aspects of the business.

Where does sales fit in?

You can’t have marketing without sales and you can’t have sales without marketing. And you can’t have either without a brand. But how should it all fit together?

One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is to silo sales and marketing separately. Sales and marketing must work in unison for a brand to really sing. Through close collaboration, sales and marketing will set themselves up for success by reinforcing consistent messaging about the products and services offered and setting accurate expectations with the customers. When sales and marketing are fractured, there is bound to be a disconnect between the expectations set by marketing, sales and ultimately an unsavory customer experience.

Ultimately, there needs to be unity for success. Creating a strong brand is an important first step, and everyone working together to deliver on that brand promise will ensure ongoing success. If done right, the brand becomes ingrained in the company culture and everyone—from reception to sales and fulfillment to billing—is clear on who you are and what you do.