“Industrial type products normally have a very dull image. In order to brighten them up, one needs to structurally change the way employees and the extended arms think, act and behave in the organisation. That was the essence of true branding for industrial products,” said Ranganath NK, Managing Director, Grundfos Pumps India Ltd.
Speaking on ‘The challenge of branding industrial products’ at Advertising Club Madras’ ‘Gyan Series’ recently, Ranganath remarked, “We have to stay boringly consistent and we have to be thoroughly innovative in the way we say it.”
Listing out the challenges that the industrial brands faced, he said that getting acceptance and influencing convictions were the major challenges for industrial products. “In an unbelievably cost conscious market like India, people are not willing to spend on industrial products as they do on gold,” he said. “People are willing to shell out only cost of copper for buying gold as far as industrial products are concerned. It is not the case in the gold market, where they don’t question anything. But when you offer gold equivalent industrial product, they are reluctant to buy it,” Ranganath added while underlining consumer behaviour towards industrial products.
According to him, branding consumer products or products that had an aspirational value was easier compared to industrial products. “Creating an interest in the product is a very vital part of branding, especially for an industrial product,” he added. Elaborating on the pros of branding, Ranganath noted that branding helped increase the employees’ loyalty, besides helping the company to attract the best skills in the market. It also helped in long time survival.
With consumer products, a strong brand can encourage the consumer to buy, remain loyal, potentially pay a higher price, however in the B2B market, branding helps to get considered and be the preferred brand, but it does not fetch potential buyers. As far as industrial products are concerned, there are no individual buyers. “Unlike soaps, wrist watches or shampoos, industrial products don’t have direct contact with the end user. One of the most difficult things is to identify our customers,” he pointed out.
Ranganath further said that most of the industrial products were identical and, therefore, one needed to constantly innovate on what they were going to communicate for the same product. The challenge was how to go about innovating about a product which did not excite anybody.
He noted, “As far as industrial products are concerned, it’s not about acquiring customers, but how many customers you are able to retain over a period of time. That’s the bigger challenge. It is not the smell or the texture. It is the performance that matters the most in industrial products, which is why the advertising industry should be very careful about what we say because that can have serious repercussions on the businesses. All our activities should align with the promises we make. Every action – whether conscious or unconscious – are highlighting our brands.”
“Brand building is not just about print and other media advertising. Commitment, imagination, innovation and finding innovative ways to communicate the truth are the essential parts of branding. Fake claims in the long run will kill the brand,” Ranganath concluded.