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Growing our way back to a healthy economy

Can manufacturing companies do anything to help resolve the issues the sector is facing? We’d like to think they can.

12 September, 2023

Despite the positive protestations of politicians, many people think that the UK economy is in dire straits, dangerously susceptible to the effects of global events, with living standards falling as economic inequality increases to the detriment of us all.

In his recent article in The Manufacturer, eminent industrialist John Mills presented his ideas for addressing the current malaise.

He suggests that the country is facing adversity because the government have lost sight of the importance of manufacturing. And his remedy proposes that rather than being fixated on inflation, they should focus on growing GDP by around 2.5-3% per year. He envisages a healthy manufacturing sector as an engine for this growth, encouraging the government to invest in the industry and nurture international competitiveness.

But he recognises that this will not be an easy task. He asks for policies to maintain a sustainably low exchange rate to reduce the relative cost of British manufactured goods for potential import markets. He also wants government help to combat the sector’s skills shortage, incentivise investment in manufacturing, reduce running costs and expedite the construction of new factories.

A courageous and coherent set of policies that focus on improving the situation for the industry would be very welcome, but do we have to wait for the government to intervene? Can manufacturing companies do anything to help resolve the issues themselves? We’d like to think they can.

Strategic Brand Building

Alongside product innovation, increasing sustainability, and operational improvements such as those embodied by Industry 4.0, manufacturing and engineering organisations have an opportunity to add branding to their competitive arsenal. And we don’t just mean by their visual identity but operationalising strategic brand thinking throughout their organisation.

Every business has a reputation. Those who actively manage their reputation have a brand. A strong brand makes everything easier by bringing clarity and alignment to a company’s activities. It builds a bridge of mutual understanding between internal and external stakeholders and breeds consistency of expectation and delivery.

Even Larry Fink, CEO of Blackrock, agrees, “…not a mere tagline or marketing campaign, it is a company’s fundamental reason for being – what it does every day to create value for its stakeholders. It’s not the sole pursuit of profits but the animating force for achieving them.”

Effective branding can help resist export pressures from exchange rates by increasing perceived value and reducing price sensitivity. Your company becomes the preferred supplier, and the positive perception outweighs the resistance to a higher price. It also makes life easier for your salesforce. Kantar is one of the world’s leading data, insights, and consulting companies; their annual BRANDZ study shows that brands with strong clarity contribute 70% more to sales.

A strong brand can also help counter the skills shortage. Compelling branding doesn’t just positively affect clients; it helps to improve talent acquisition, engagement, and retention.

According to a recent LinkedIn study, 80% of talent leaders agree that brand significantly impacts their ability to hire great talent. This opinion is backed up by research from IBM, which found that 80% of employees felt more engaged when their work was consistent with their organisation’s core values and mission.

Successful brands are authentic to themselves, relevant and engaging for their audiences and differentiated from their competition. Suppose you haven’t invested in articulating your brand strategy and operationalising the thinking throughout your organisation. In that case, you will likely be underperforming as a business, making these challenging market conditions even harder.

We urge you to align strategic brand thinking with operational innovation and build a foundation for success to help manufacturing and engineering again be the engine of a thriving UK economy.

We’re conducting our own research on how branding can impact the construction and manufacturing sectors. If you found this article of interest, why not add your opinion to our research study. Contact Andrew for more information on 01483 331 250 or email

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