October 2014

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Branding 40 | www.cedmag.com | Construction Equipment Distribution | October 2014 admittedly, "GMC" could be confusing) with 6 axles, a 300-metric ton capacity and an L (for long) boom. The Manitowoc system is logical, if still a bit of a porridge – and it is not without its illogical elements: The various models skip back and forth between metric and U.S. tonnage labels. The GMK7550, for example, despite its name lifts 450 metric tons (550 imperial tons). Bratthauar says such inconsistencies will be ironed out moving forward. "Internally, we go by serial numbers," the marketing direc- tor said. "Yet the benefit of this new system is both internal and external. It is a lot easier to expand a product line if the nomenclature makes some sense, and moving to a standar- dized nomenclature makes the most sense. It is easier for our customers to understand when we talk to them and they talk to us." As for the likelihood that the industry as a whole will move to more accessible and imaginative product labeling, Bratthauar is noncommittal. "I honestly think every manu- facturer does their own thing. There is no standard for the standards." In the view of Marc Dowdell, president of LiuGong North America, industry standardization of nomenclature would be preferable from a customer and manufacturer viewpoint. "I think the market as a whole would greatly prefer some standardization for easier identification and comparison. I would think a contractor would prefer standardization for all OEMs on model designations." LiuGong NA might be especially eager for comparisons because it is a recent entry in the North American market and wanting to match up with rivals in the minds of poten- tial customers. The Chinese subsidiary incorporated as a North American entity in 2008 and, according to Dowdell, is experiencing 40 percent annual growth. In LiuGong idiom, equipment models are purely rational. For example, the 950E is an E-model excavator (9 is arbitrary shorthand for excavator) with a 50 metric-ton operating weight. The company's CLG856III is a China LiuGong (CLG) wheel loader (8 designates such machines) with a 5 metric- ton payload and a Tier-3 (III) engine. OK. And what about the "6" in the foregoing model's ID? "That doesn't have significance," said Dowdell. Nevertheless, Dowdell believes the LiuGong designation of its excavators and wheel loaders "is logical and simple." He concedes that naming a series of machines might be valuable "for marketing purposes." He added, "In regards to model numbers, I am sure the end user would prefer stan- dardization for quick reference and understanding. At the end of the day, the most important person is the end-user and their needs." Attachment to Names Specialty companies in the industry seem less inhibited in their product naming. Some examples: Fifty years ago, Allied Construction Products introduced its now-standard trench- shoring product and called it the Tren-Shore. In the 1970s, Rockland Manufacturing introduced its sifting conveyer- collector machine that strips land of rocks and roots – the Rockland Rotoveyer. Genesis Attachments Co. doesn't mince words in offering a Pulverizer Jaw and a Concrete Cracker Jaw. Then there is Leading Edge, a Massachusetts attach- ments company that seems to find special joy in imaginative product names. Its rock-ripping buckets have appellations that allude to animals and animal parts. The company offers Multi-Ripper Talon and V-Raptor buckets for backhoes and excavators, as well as a tree stump scoop called a – wait for this – Stumpiranha. The audacious terminology is a conscious attempt to brand the company in the minds of equipment shop- pers. "If we keep hammering it," said Lee Horton, slipping into appropriate metaphoric language, "we believe it will become a memorable thing and people will come to us when they are looking for attachments." Horton is president of Leading Edge and a former engi- neering manager at Woods Manufacturing, which used to have a plant in New England. He and a few former Woods colleagues formed Leading Edge to design, market, and sell attachments, all of which are manufactured for them by Woods. The novel names mostly are a product of Horton's imagination, but Leading Edge isn't just name-happy. Its steady introduction of products with high utility has earned it New Product of the Year awards (the most recent in 2012). Its ripping buckets feature wicked-looking shanks arranged in an arc. The technology is trademarked as "Sharc" (shanks on an arc), and has proven to be faster and more effective than a hydraulic hammer and single ripper tooth. After 20 years of innovations, Leading Edge claims to lead the industry in rock-working attachments for excavators. It continues to patent and introduce new products: Coming soon to a construction site near you is a Leading Edge plate that goes on the head of a hydraulic hammer and turns it in a compactor – the Compachyderm. For a former engineer, Horton demonstrates an unusual aptitude for marketing. He notes that the name of the grow- ing company, Leading Edge, refers to both the front surface of an excavation bucket and the concept of being state of the art. "The whole thing is about brand recognition," he said. "If our marketing can catch the eyes of industry shoppers, they might say, 'I don't need that now.' But when they run into a rock, they are apt to remember our product names and look us up." By any name, that's dynamic product marketing. ("The Name Game" continued from page 39) GILES LAMBERTSON is a retired journalist and freelance writer whose interest in the construction industry goes back to his carpentry days. He can be reached at gparkerel@gmail.com

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