Menu

Founded in 1998, Industrial Brand has evolved to specialize in brand strategy and creating distinct market positions for architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) and other professional services firms.

 

Changes in technology and the workforce are creating opportunities in the AEC industry, and we believe its leadership must adopt new branding and marketing approaches or be left behind.

 

We understand what it takes to get partners and managers to a consensus; to engage with and deliver a new identity to employees and external audiences; and to get the attention of your prospects. Thorough research leads to solid strategy, insights to ideas, and only then, effective communications.

Our Manifesto

We understand that the best, most effective and successful work we ever do is the result of starting each project with as deep an understanding of the prevailing circumstances and companies that we are working with as possible. We’re never satisfied that the assumptions put forth at the beginning of a project are anything other than just that.

We call design without strategy “prettymaking”. Indeed, for some, this hits the mark. Not us. Not for our clients.

We are sought after by those who understand the need to uncover the hidden truths and insights that bear the fruit of real success. This approach takes more time, effort and expense, but the outcomes are long term: broader reach, better client and staff retention, and positive, sustainable growth.

Today we face globalizing economies, rapid changes in technologies, the changing (younger) face of the Millennial workforce, downward pressure on margins, and even greater competition. Never before has it been more important to break free of old conventions and habits in order for AEC firms to thrive.

We believe that for those in the architecture, engineering, construction and related built environment professionals, the communication and marketing habits and traditions of the past are now the very things standing the way of their successful future.

Marketing is not procurement response.

Although not typically well-versed in branding and marketing, AEC has historically viewed marketing as a dirty word at worst, a low priority at best—or mistaken marketing as procurement response and brand building as something that does not require marketing.

Employees want more than money.

Recruiting and retaining skilled AEC staff is becoming as much as, or more of, a challenge than business development and sales. This makes commitment to ethics, sustainability, culture, community, design, mentorship and training/advancement more important than ever.

Specialization opens doors.

In the future, the most successful firms with the greatest levels of business stability and growth will be the ones not afraid to specialize in a meaningful way. Those fearful of saying no to projects and losing out on opportunities, even if not a core expertise, will keep things running, but will lose out on the benefits of a strong position and distinctive reputation. Prospective clients searching for AEC firms frequently do so by seeking out experts in specific sectors. Those firms able to demonstrate thought leadership, knowledge, and expertise will be best positioned to take advantage of these opportunities.

Your online reputation matters.

Amongst AEC professionals, there is a fear of using social media. This is often manifest as not having the time or resources to do it, or retreating to more conventional sales tactics. As long as these firms remain busy,moving resources to new, future-forward marketing models will be held back. Once the work slows down, if they even can, catching up to rivals will be a challenge.

What you say is less important that what you believe.

Characterized as skeptical, altruistic, diverse, frugal, green, candid and successful multitaskers, Millennials are not opposed to connecting with brands, but do so only when there is an exchange of value and when it is on their terms. What this means for firms is that an authentic brand is crucial. Professional development and advancement needs to be at the forefront of the corporate culture to attract and retain emerging talent.

You can count on technology, to change the game.

Increasingly advanced, affordable, and accessible digital tools are democratizing firm capabilities and furthering the brand and marketing divide. On the receiving end of this, the primary target audiences for AEC (clients, talent, and staff) are increasingly tech savvy, and rely much more on mobile devices. For greater numbers of clients, and certainly prospective talent, decision on who to award work to or what firm to work for, is influenced online first.

Today’s last names on the door might very well be the last names on the door.

An increasingly greater portion of the Baby Boomer generation currently in leadership positions in AEC will be retiring in the next 8–10 years. Typically, AEC firms have not been proactive in addressing succession planning, nor have they been bringing the next generation (Gen X) of associates into the boardroom soon enough.

Oh, and in case you are not from the AEC world, one more thing:

Most of the above applies to you too.

Our Team

Mark Busse

Partner/Managing Director, BA, CGD

Busse is co-founder and managing director, and besides overseeing business development and account management, he ensures the work we produce adheres to the highest professional and technical standards of design.

A CGD™ Certified Graphic Designer, Busse serves as a VP and past president of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada and a design educator, advisor, mentor for design programs at Vancouver Film School, Capilano University, Langara College and others. A graduate of TWU’s School of Business and UBC’s Visual Arts Program, Busse has over two decades of design and creative management experience.

Busse invests in the creative community by producing and hosting events such as Likemind Vancouver, Interesting Vancouver, and CreativeMornings/Vancouver as well as a frequent speaker at industry events and conferences. He is a writer for Design Edge Magazine and Canadian Architect Magazine, an advisory board member for Vancouver is Awesome, and a regular guest commentator on the live TV news talk show “Unfiltered” with Jill Krop on Global BC1.

An active participant in volunteer initiatives, Busse has been a citizen member of the Vancouver Engaged City Task Force, a volunteer with the DOXA Documentary Film Festival, Vancouver Food Bank, and is a co-founder of Red Hood Project, the movement for online security for children and youth, as well as the popular food blog Foodists.ca. Busse lives in East Vancouver with his beautiful wife Andrea and cute little dog Pepper.

You can learn more about Busse’s past and upcoming speaking engagements here, and to book him to speak by emailing him at mark@industrialbrand.com

Read blog posts by Mark.

mark@industrialbrand.com

Ben Garfinkel

Partner/Strategy Director, BComm

Ben’s primary role is to lead strategic direction and creative concept, ensuring a strong strategic foundation for our clients is in place from the outset.

Ben has over 20 years of experience in brand and direct marketing strategy, communications and project management at advertising agencies BBDO, Bryant Fulton & Shee, and Lanyon Phillips Communications. In 1998 he co-founded Industrial Brand, a brand strategy and design consultancy specializing in architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC). In addition to AEC, Ben has worked with all manner of clients and industries, including BC Children’s Hospital, HSBC, VanCity Credit Union, Molson, Labatts, and Granville Island Brewing. Combining his passion for photography and graphic arts with business, led Ben to graduate from the University of Toronto with a commerce and art history degree. Ben is an active member of the Association of Professional Design Firms (APDF) and the Canadian Society for Marketing Professional Services (CSMPS), and is a student mentor at Vancouver Film School (VFS).

Ben supports numerous not-for-profit and charitable organizations such as University of Toronto Alumni Association, Canstruction Vancouver, and Red Hood Project. Ben is an avid cook, certified barbecue judge, and co-founder of the popular food blog Foodists.ca.

Read blog posts by Ben.

ben@industrialbrand.com

Allison Vail

Resource Manager

Alli works behind the scenes at Industrial Brand, making sure resources are being effectively used and that projects are executed on time and beautifully by the whole team.

She has more than 6 years of project management experience in website, Facebook and app development, as well as digital and print media, specializing in strategic planning and efficient communication. She worked at several Vancouver agencies as a project manager and a resource/studio manager before joining Industrial Brand.

Previously, she was a journalist and a newspaper editor on Vancouver Island. She has a diploma in journalism from Langara College and did a stint as a lifestyle and fashion blogger.
When not putting numbers into spreadsheets, she can be found knitting, or running on the seawall.

Nicole “Bonnie” Retief

Senior Communication Designer

Bonnie recently joined our team from the southwest shores of sunny South Africa. Having worked in three leading advertising and design agencies in cosmopolitan Durban and trendsetting Cape Town, Bonnie brings with her over eight years of international industry experience, a unique design aesthetic, a charming accent, and a broad skill set that includes packaging, brand development, brand activation, planning, styling, and art directing photo shoots. Bonnie excels at providing quality work while keeping a calm demeanor and an upbeat attitude.

Bonnie considers herself more than just a cog in the creative machine. She is constantly pushing the bar on innovation, perfectionism, and creative solutions to best suit the retirements of a project. Bonnie’s creative mind is never off duty: she spends her free time on the hunt for new, unusual sources of design inspiration.

Keltie Munro

Associate Marketing Strategist and Online Communications Expert, BComm

Keltie brings over 15 years of marketing expertise to the Industrial Brand team. In addition to having a passion for market research and tracking trends and competitive intelligence across markets, Keltie has varied experience in brand management, positioning, marketing strategy, and business communications. Keltie is an online marketing communications expert who understands how to understand and engage audiences, enhance customer relationships, and increase awareness and loyalty for brands through the strategic use of social media.

A graduate of the University of Alberta’s business program, Keltie worked for several international organizations in the US and Canada — Xerox, Unilever, and Eddie Bauer – before moving to Vancouver and branching out on her own. For the past ten years, Keltie has focused her efforts on freelance marketing and writing projects, developing internal and external communications for retailers, consumer products companies, and marketing agencies.

Aside from work, Keltie has two boys who force her to explore her inner tomboy by coaching Little League, playing tennis, and watching endless Sunday football games. Having recently updated her skills in web strategy and content, Keltie’s portfolio also includes social media and inbound marketing efforts for Industrial Brand and our clients.

Read blog posts by Keltie.

Ben Griner

Associate Senior Management Consultant

Ben Griner is an independent vendor who frequently collaborates with the Industrial Brand team as a Senior Management Consultant with demonstrated abilities in complex organizational growth and systems development. Based in Seattle Washington, he is the founding partner of PerSyst Consulting LLC, a consulting firm focusing on systems implementation.

With over 15 years of industry experience, Ben is a leader in the utilization of iterative deployment methodologies in conjunction with systems and infrastructure development to bring strategy and concept to life. With extensive experience in systems theory and Agile methodologies, he brings concrete solutions and defined approaches to complex and dynamic engagements. Ben’s extensive experience in process design and implementation strategies enables his clients to rapidly respond to market changes and to systematically grow and effect change within their corporate world. His work in the engineering, product development, and consumer engagement space has directly resulted in large market share gains, strong corporate growth, and visionary consumer experiences.

ben@persystconsulting.com
Justine

Justine Yu

Marketing Assistant & Online Strategist, BBA

Justine works on the marketing team managing online campaigns, providing research, communications strategy and content development for clients and Industrial Brand. An experienced social media marketing strategist, Justine helps maximize online engagement through socmed channels for IB and its clients.

She is a graduate of Simon Fraser University with a Bachelors of Business Administration from the Beedie School of Business and a double major in Communications with a specialty in Marketing and New Media. Justine has experience in strategic marketing, promotions, public relations, and social media having previously worked for companies like Grey Vancouver, Warner Bros., and Invoke Media. Over the past few years she has done freelance work with clients like Olympian Bobsledder Justin Kripps, Switch United, and Republic Media to develop communications plans and social media strategies.

When she’s not working you can usually find her in the kitchen whipping up some tasty creation, trying out one of the many new restaurants or breweries in town, drinking 3-shot lattes, or hiking with her four dogs.

Stephen Abbott

Associate Brand and Communications Strategist

Stephen Abbott is an independent vendor who frequently collaborates with the Industrial Brand team as a senior brand and communication strategist.

A corporate storyteller, Stephen works with business leaders to bridge business strategy with creative opportunity, bringing an authentic and compelling brand story to life throughout the organization. Taking brand strategy beyond just a creative exercise, his expertise is centered on ensuring that organizations set out solid foundations and build brands that are an asset to their organization. Stephen focuses on the four critical functions of brand strategy: culture, communications, experience, and operations.

With over 21 years in business (the last 13 specifically in brand and communication development), Stephen has worked on branding projects on both the agency and the client side of the process, giving him a unique perspective of the uncertainties, aspirations, and excitement of creating leading brands. He has a clear understanding of the limits of budgets and resources, and the value of doing what’s right and necessary rather than what is expected and common.

Casey Enser

Business Development Associate

Casey joined Industrial Brand in early 2012 to lead business development and client services for our Chicago clients. With his background in production, his enthusiasm for design, as well as his keen business acumen,Casey was a natural fit with the IB team.

Casey graduated from Columbia College in Chicago and began his career in television production. He worked as the stage manager for the Jerry Springer Show and also did freelance work throughout Chicago for networks such as ESPN, Food Network, and MTV. Born with an entrepreneurial spirit, Casey moved on to a career in franchise development. After opening the first Cold Stone Creamery in Illinois, he secured the area development rights for the entire state as well as NW Indiana, developing the market from a single franchise to 54 in four short years prior selling his stake in the business and leaving the company to go on to new adventures.

In his spare time, Casey contributes to his community as a Big Brother and spends time enjoying the ”City of Big Shoulders” with his wife and two dogs Henry and Lola.

Tony Nichols

Associate Senior Writer and Creative Director

Tony Nichols is the Writerman. He’s been moving words around professionally since the long-lost days of the 20th Century. Over the years, he’s worked with top agencies such as DDB, Cossette and Blast Radius and well-known brands like Disney, lululemon, Starbucks, the CBC, Nike, and everybody’s favourite food: Kraft Dinner.

As both a writer and Creative Director, he has collected a number of industry awards, but the one his mom brags about the most is being named one of Canada’s top copywriters in Strategy Magazine’s Creative Report Card.

Tony believes in the power of words, ideas and good-old-fashioned creativity like mom used to make. His favourite color is orange.

 

Kim Lear

Associate Writer and Web Content Strategist

An independent contractor with a knack for translating AEC insider-speak into client-facing communications, Kim has been a collaborative member of the Industrial Brand team since 2007.

With 15+ years in the field, Kim’s approach to writing and content strategy is simple. 1) Synthesize brand discovery research, search analytics, social listening and interview findings. 2) Nail the brand voice and key messages.  3) Take what clients want to say and hone it into what their clients want and need to know.

It might be her former documentary-filmmaking-self that teases out the compelling stories and the unique voice at the heart of a brand. But Kim says it’s her former fundraiser-self that nags her to put relationship building at the core of her work.

How can she shake hands, get to the point and intrigue someone to find out more with copy on a homepage? How can she make someone’s life easier with an actionable, easy-to-digest employee handbook? How can she tap into to people’s motivations with site navigation? Kim asks great questions, which is why she also answers them for the likes of RJC, Omicron, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and Covenant House, Vancouver.

Kim lives in Toronto, ON, and works from her home office overlooking the brand-mania that is Dundas Square.

kimlearwriter@gmail.com

Carlos Obregon

Associate SEM SEO & Social Media Specialist

Carlos’ enthusiasm for social media and search engine marketing drives him to uncover new and cutting edge strategies. Since 2004, Carlos has had the opportunity to work with some of the largest e-commerce and information portal sites in Vancouver, including Infomine.com and HealthPricer.com, where he wore many hats.

Since becoming a consultant he has implemented search engine marketing and social media solutions for organizations in a multitude of industries and developed online awareness campaigns for Fortune 500 companies as well as small and medium businesses across North America.

Carlos is the past President of the Rotary Club’s Sunrise Chapter in downtown Vancouver. As a third generation Rotarian, he takes great pride in being a part of local and international charitable causes that benefit the underprivileged in our own backyard of East Vancouver and in Africa.

Carlos was a featured speaker at Google’s Engage event in Vancouver in July 2013.

Carlos received his B.Comm from the renowned Tec de Monterrey in Leon, Mexico in 1994; and his MBA in International Business from the University of Guanajuato in Guanajuato, Mexico in 1998.

cobregon@bloommarketing.ca