B2: A masterclass in long-term brand management

6 August 2020

Brown Beech and Associates (B2) was set up in 1987 during the construction of the Second Bosphorus Bridge by a successful designer and civil engineer. Its aim was to pursue the art of long-span suspension bridge design across the world and to promote excellence in the field of civil engineering.

David Boxall, now MD of 301 Design, joined the business soon after it started with a brief to help form the modern consulting engineering business and guide the evolution of its brand. Thus, work on the brand management of B2 began in earnest.

David led the business though ten successful years of brand evolution, before leaving in 1997 to establish his own design and branding agency, 301 Design. He still continues to collaborate with the founders of B2 to this day, however, continuing to oversee its brand management following its purchase by a larger engineering company and promoting the legacy of its renowned lead designer, Dr William (Bill) Brown.

Our branding work for B2 took a ‘digital formation’ approach from the very beginning – something that experts would now refer to as a digital transformation. The branding was designed to reflect the technically advanced bridge design concepts and promotions. It mirrored the business’ approach to its engineering work: innovative, efficient, surprisingly simple and professional.

The process started when we translated the initial business plan and vision into a programme of key branding objectives, devising a cohesive commercial, marketing and brand strategy with timed output of tactics. We created new branding for B2 that encompassed and explained the company’s overall vision; including its identity, ambitions and a strong business story.

Going digital

The ‘digital’ element came in when we put together an image library of more than 3,000 bridge engineering photographs, mostly sourced from original slides taken in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s to build up a comprehensive illustrative resource. The company’s first ever website followed in 1996 at ‘b2.co.uk’. We designed accompanying marketing materials and templates, including exhibition stands, brochures, reports, articles, posters, leaflets, banners and emails.

The next stage was to produce a suite of graphic resources for media use, such as 3D illustrations, animated flyovers, scale models, graphics, templates and stock images. These greatly enhances B2’s press and PR work, adding vibrancy and a strong, cohesive image in published articles and news stories. To this, we added the same branding to technical documentation that was published of designs, proposals, tender drawings, Bills of Quantity etc.

All the materials that we produced were immediately identifiable as ‘belonging’ to B2. As a result, the brand power grew very quickly and so did the business reputation. The branding matched the bridge designs that B2 was well known for around the world: efficient, simple, thoughtful design that was both innovative and built to last.

Bridging the gap to strong brand management

Any business seeking to establish a longer-term brand management strategy needs to ask itself ten key questions:

1. Do you have a SMART business plan?

Have you worked out what your objectives are? Are they Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely? Without a firm analysis of what you want your business to achieve and how you might be able to go about reaching your goals, your brand management will not reach its full potential.

2. What are the values of the business?

What does your business stand for? How do you want people to feel when they see your name in an internet search or glance at your logo on an exhibition flyer? It is crucial to establish your business values early on to help you decide which direction you want to take next.

3. Who are the key audiences?

Who are you making your products or designing your services for? How can you reach them to get your message across? How do they think and what do they want to get out of a business relationship with your company? The answers to these questions are extremely key details to know.

4. Can people identify with your business?

You may know who your potential audience is, but do they know who you are and what you can offer them? It’s a competitive world out there and, with the rise and rise of the internet, communicating with people to let them know who you are is easier than ever.

5. What unique opportunities are available?

Every business has its own USPs (unique selling points) and it is vital to work out what yours are and how you can exploit the opportunities they provide to the max. This is where an outsider’s view can be very useful – as an external agency, we can take an impartial view to work out what makes you stand out from the crowd and how you can take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

6. Who are your nearest competitors?

A crowded marketplace fosters competition and this is not always a bad thing. Competition keeps you fresh and agile, so long as you know who you are up against. Always take the time to get to know the companies and individuals you are going up against to safeguard your share of brand recognition.

7. What is your company's culture?

What is the culture of your organisation? Culture and how we play our part in it binds us together as human beings. Can you be sure that you are not relying too heavily on the mindset, “it’s just the way we do things around here.” There may be many elements of your organisation’s existing culture that are great, but there may also be areas you need to improve on. Perhaps it’s time for a culture audit.

8. What is its identity?

How can people identify your organisation? Do you have a clear and consistent identity across all your marketing and communications? This is not just about the logo; this includes your style of imagery, photography, typography, iconography, colour palette and the way you say and write things. Does your current identity correctly represent your organisation’s values and culture?

9. How do you want to position your tone of voice?

Tone of voice describes how the character of your business comes through in words, both written and spoken. It’s not about what you say, but rather the way you say it, and the impression it makes on everyone who reads or hears you. Is this consistent across all your activities? Are you using the right tone of voice for your target audience, or are people being turned off by how your company expresses itself?

10. Are you ready to trust us with your long-term brand management?

If you are interested in finding out more about how 301 Design can help you with your longer-term brand management and business strategy, please call us on 020 7060 6301 or send us an email. We can’t wait to get started!