Brands – do they make a difference?

A couple of days ago at the store my wife and I were discussing brands and why she selects one brand over another or even a generic versus a well-known brand. It was a reality check when she described why. Like most of us, she relates a brand with its promise, which is based on a history of satisfied customers that have developed a trust for and believe that they will not be disappointed in the brand’s product(s). These products will perform as promised and those promises will be kept if something goes wrong. Customers keep going back to the same brand because it meets or exceeds their expectations. In other words, the customer is a happy camper. This whole conversation got my gray matter juices flowing and thinking about construction and mining equipment brands. Do they make a difference in the decision making process on what to buy? 

Brand promise…
As an owner, buyer and user of mobile equipment, I ask you, how and why do you choose one brand over another? More than ever, today there are many choices of types and sizes of mobile equipment. So how do you differentiate one from another? What does the brand promise? Does it have a reputation of delivering products that live up to its claims? Do they do what they say they will do? Does the owner of the brand back the products with insurance and in case of a dispute decide on the side of customer satisfaction. Can you make a comparison of the brands that will guide you to the final decision? This all sounds very easy but we all know that there is more to the story. 

Ultimately, you, the customer decide on what is the most important buying criteria in making the purchasing decision; brand, dealer, type, size, productivity, reliability, purchase price, TCO, life cycle cost, durability, etc. I submit that it’s the brand promise and consistently delivering on that promise.

The Three Legged Stool…
Most construction and mining equipment manufacturers, new and old, have many things in common. They all have the ability and capability to produce products that meet basic government standards, incorporate industry accepted design characteristics and customer expected features. The products are designed to be safe, productive, operator friendly, easy to maintain/repair and are cost effective to own and operate. The manufacturer chooses to either sell products directly through owned retail outlets or through independently owned dealer / distributors (seller of record). 

In reflecting back on decisions I’ve made, if I knew then what I know now, I would have probably made the same decision, albeit for different reasons. Finding the right tool (mobile equipment) to use for the application was of primary importance, while price, brand and the dealer were secondary. Back then I placed more importance on the brand than I did on the dealer. I relied on the brands’ promise to meet my expectations when in fact, I should have been spending more time building a stronger relationship with the dealer making sure we were all in lockstep. After all, the brand promise may only be as good as the dealer’s ability to deliver on that promise. I contend that the customer, the dealer and the brand need to be working together to affect the best outcome.

I use the analogy of “Three Legged Stool”, meaning the customer makes it a priority to know and communicate regularly with the brand and the dealer decision makers. The dealer does the same by knowing the customer uses, applications and people at all levels. The brand owner has to know the dealers’ people, its strengths and weaknesses, which will enable the providing of support as needed to satisfy the customer. Likewise, the brand must know and be visible and engaging to understand the customer’s business requirements. By doing this, you will find that a strong and lasting relationship of trust will go a long way in obtaining the best results. In the end, the brand that best fulfills aspects of its brand promise will be the best choice.