Communicating a brand
Massimiliano Rottoli is the global director of RS PRO brand and data at industrial solutions firm RS Group. He discusses here the importance of effective communication for a brand’s long-term success, as he has seen at his own firm.
Communicating is a distinctive aspect of being human – we do it from birth, we have been doing it since the dawn of humankind. It comes so naturally to us that we think communicating is the easiest thing in the world. After all, a child can do it, right? But the type of communication that happens one-to-one is inherently different from the one that happens between a brand and its public. A brand's identity is co-created in this process, and in the Marketing 3.0 era, where competition happens not only at the product and service level but is played in the arena of values and ideals, brand identity is key.
But what does ‘brand’ really mean? I believe it includes the whole image and reputation of a company, which distinguish it from its competitors and connect it with customers.
As Kapferer wrote in The New Strategic Brand Management, “a brand is a shared, desirable and exclusive idea embodied in products, services, places and/or experiences. The more people this idea is shared by, the greater the power of the brand.”
It is the brand and how we communicate it that gives value to what we do – including in the eyes of customers, influencing their choice. It is not enough to create good quality products if you can’t get them recognised as such. You have to communicate that quality, paint a picture in customers’ minds, in order to make them choose you over someone else. “Products are created in factories, brands are created in the mind,” to quote Walter Landor.
RS PRO is an industrial products and solutions brand. Our mission reflects exactly this: our focus as a business has always been “how do we solve our customers’ problems?” Hence, our long-term goal, which is to provide them with customised product solutions. What we do is we put ourselves in our customers’ shoes – which is an effort made easier by the fact that most of us have an engineering background or are actually engineers.
In an industry that typically values practicality over creativity, it’s difficult to create branding that excites, informs and engages. We know that our intended audience is challenging. Namely that they’re typically extremely knowledgeable, yet traditionally inexorable industry-experts. They want simple, practical product demonstrations, and usually once they’ve found a reliable brand/product, they’ll use it for life.
So how do we get such an audience to consider our own-brand products over thousands of others? Mirroring our customers – thinking like engineers, which we are – was the winning choice to gain their affection and loyalty. But it was not enough. We needed to balance a desire for practical, demonstrative content, with creative, engaging branding that would capture the attention of new and existing clients. Thus, the RS PRO-BOT was conceived – a visually appealing, yet informative ‘brand ambassador’ that could embody the RS PRO brand, in any language and culture.
It became the central character in a series of videos, whereby it explores a selection of RS PRO products, in a way that mirrors real-life manufacturing processes. This enabled compelling storytelling whilst showcasing relevant products in a practical way. And our ‘brand ambassador’ was the personality we needed to make the content more than just practical and informative, but also fun and engaging. An impactful and recognisable personality, likely to be remembered and associated with our brand.
Our customers recognise themselves in the gestures of our BOT, and are more inclined to choose our products by seeing them ‘in action’. In practice, the RS PRO-BOT is helping bring our branding to life. What better recipe to be ‘top of mind’ in the industry?