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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Principal/Strategy Director, BComm
Co-Founder/Associate, BA, CGD, FGDC
Associate Design Director, MDes, MGDC
Marketing and Business Development Specialist
Marketing Assistant & Online Strategist, BBA
Associate Brand and Communications Strategist
Associate Senior Writer and Creative Director
Associate SEM SEO & Social Media Specialist
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.[email protected]
A CGD™ Certified Graphic Designer and Fellow of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, Busse serves the national design association as a VP and past president in British Columbia. 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 and is a design educator, mentor, and advisor for design programs at Vancouver Film School, Capilano University, Langara College and others.
Busse invests in the creative community by producing and hosting events such as CreativeMornings/Vancouver, Interesting Vancouver, and Likemind Vancouver, as well as a regular 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.[email protected]
Perhaps it’s because Cecilia prefers listening over talking that she loves building lasting relationships. In her role as Account Manager, this customer-first approach serves her very well when interacting with our clients. Who says business conversations can’t bring joy?
Cecilia’s expertise is in online marketing and video production. She’s worked with top brands as a creative producer—some of her favourite past work includes Electronic Arts, Funny or Die, Canfor and Tire Stewardship BC. A deep understanding of brand and messaging was fundamental to each project, and Cecilia successfully led creative teams to realize the visions and goals for her clients. Before production, Cecilia worked in manufacturing as a marketing manager (specifically, industrial polymers for engineering applications), adding a level of technical understanding from a client perspective.
In her spare time, Cecilia enjoys hiking and geeky things in equal measures. If you’re buying, single malt whisky is her preferred drink of choice.[email protected]
Working closely with the Strategy Director, Matt translates Brand Strategy into design systems that can be applied across entire brands. The result is consistency, a unified look and outstanding audience engagement. Matt brings zero ego to his work, an essential quality for collaborating with clients wanting to push through the expected and achieve exciting and meaningful design.
A certified graphic designer (CGD), Matt earned his Masters in Graphic Design from the Royal College of Art in London, England: the only post-graduate art institution in the world. He has since gained a breadth of experience in design, art direction, management, business ownership, sales training and marketing.
With over 20 years of experience, Matt has worked with many clients ranging from the Government of Canada and the United Nations, to international businesses like Phillips, P&O Cruise Line and Future Shop and many local companies as well.
Matt is a family man, and loves skiing, hiking and playing in the pool with his partner and two kids.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.[email protected]