Vendorsyour brand is calling

Getting your brand known is key to successful business. And, in these days of stiff competition its not appropriate to hide lights under bushels.

At a recent Windows Mobile event held by Microsoft I noted with interest that only about 25 per cent of the solution providers present were aware of the technology-packed rugged mobile computers or data capture products we sell. This was not surprising. Of the 25 per cent, the only AIDC vendor named by all was Symbol Technologies. Indeed most could only name Symbol.

Unfortunately, (for everyone other than Symbol) this was not surprising either. For some considerable time now Symbol has been the shining light of the AIDC vendor community when it comes to brand promotion. Symbol presents itself as a technology company that enables end users to attain competitive advantage through the use of this technology. It pushes its brand across a number of frontiers accordingly. The companys success in this regard is thanks to the understanding of board members past and present that strong brands are a key building block of success and market leadership. Other AIDC vendors would argue that they also push their brands, but if thats the case, why is it that almost all solution providers Blackroc Technology engage are aware of Symbol as opposed to any other company?

Spell it out
We have seen a number of logo changes from various vendors over the last few years. Usually this means a new font, colour, or fancy graphic. Sometimes they have even added strap lines. But what does the change or new strap-line actually mean? There is usually a message there somewhere but what is it? Sometimes privileged members of the channel are invited along by the vendor to have this new direction explained to them but invariably thats where the message stops. The end-users are rarely informed of this by the vendoragain Symbol is the exception to the rule. Bill Nuti, president and chief executive officer, was interviewed in January by CNBC in a live broadcast about how Symbol helps its customers to capture, move and manage information at the point of activity. Important corporate message with global exposure. Its logo includes the words The Enterprise Mobility Company, so at least we have a clue what theyre about!

Changing face of Casio
So with all this in mind, I was really pleased to see one AIDC vendor invigorating their brand recently. Casio has one of the worlds strongest brands and was last year named as a business Superbrand by Superbrands Ltd, an independent arbiter and authority on branding. But how many of you knew that they manufacture an excellent range of mobile computers? Those of you that did probably have a particular view of its older entry-level terminals but Casio have moved on considerably and now, as part of a general branding exercise in the UK, it has decided to start shouting about it. In fact, by the time you read this, the Casiology countrywide giant urban banner campaign and giant postings in the London Underground will be well under way. When is the last time you saw an AIDC mobile computing product on the walls at Leicester Square or Oxford Circus? Brilliant! The branding is fresh and, dare I say it, even hip. There you go, the words hip and AIDC on the same page!

Whats really important about this exercise from Casio is the understanding that your brand needs to tell your customers what you are about. Casiology is about what makes a Casio product just that. If you look at the new Casiology logos it becomes clear that the Casio brand is about producing products that relate to quality, technology, design and innovation that are personal to the purchaser. The actual marketing campaigns may all appear a bit revolutionary to the dreary world of data capture, and I am aware that much of this marketing is consumer focussed. But there are valuable pointers for our industryits about time that many AIDC vendors started to realise that although they may see themselves as a hi-technology company many of their end users dont. In fact many of their end-users dont even know the company name until they read it on a hand held computer or a printer. Their brand image does not pervade the end-user base nor says anything about what the company stands for.

But our products are in fact exciting. Yes, I have seen actual people get excited when they begin to understand what a rugged mobile hand held can do for their business and for them as a person. How it can liberate them in their workplace. So were not necessarily that far removed from hi-tech consumer marketing after all are we?

So come on vendors, invigorate your brand, tell the world and its van driver or warehouse operative about all the excellently designed, innovative, sexy, state of the art, technology packed products you produce each year. Get people excited about your brandits calling you!

Martyn Broadhead is sales and marketing director at Blackroc Technology Ltd and has over ten years experience in the AIDC industry. Blackroc Technology, based in Stafford, is the UK's fastest growing value added distributor of AIDC (Automatic Identification and Data Capture) technologies and products. These include RFID, Industrial RF LANs, rugged mobile computers, hand held terminals, bar code scanners and printers. The company also provides professional services and integration to the channel including RF site surveys, commissioning, wireless security set up, wireless support contracts, RFID integration, and a rapid design and manufacture service for integrating technology and interfaces to existing manufactured product.

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