A brand-name you trust can help you decide which appliance to buy, but the name on the appliance may not be the name of the company that actually made the product.
Tim Chaput, the owner of Wickford Appliance, says, "What happens is the license agreement amongst companies to use their trademark name on their product." So, the appliance you're about to spend your money on might actually have been manufactured by another company.
Chaput says it's a common practice in the appliance industry for one company to make the product, which is then sold under another company's name. He says it's a way for companies to sell more appliances without building new assembly lines, "Primarily on air conditioners, sometimes you'll have a Brand X manufacturer who wants to sell their product, but they're looking for a name they can market it under."
Sometimes you'll see two appliances that are very similar, but with different names and prices. Some Whirlpool washer, for instance, ares almost exactly the same as Kitchen Aid models. The Kitchen Aid is a little more expensive and has a few more bells and whistles, but the warranty cards go to the exact same address.
Whirlpool Corporation is the parent company of Kitchen Aid, but the two are marketed differently. The company has even created imaginary names for the target customers, "The Whirlpool brand consumer is a busy, active person. We call this person the 'Active Balancer.' The Kitchen Aid consumer is passionate about cooking. We call these people the 'Home enthusiast.'"
The bottom line is you can't always tell who made the appliance, but you can check the appliance's track record by doing some research on consumer publications and web sites.