Engineering businesses typically fall into one of two camps: either product-led or engineering-led. Brand-led engineering is a third option and one that is quickly gaining popularity.
The idea at the heart of brand-led engineering is to align product development much more closely with a brand's values, image, and identity.
A brand-led approach allows engineering companies to unlock their competitive advantage in a different way, by integrating their branding and marketing into the development of new products, not only to meet functional requirements but also to reflect and reinforce the different elements of their brand.
So, what do we mean by reflecting and reinforcing their brand? It can mean embodying the brand's core values in a physical way. It could involve improving the user experience. It could involve employing specific design aesthetics or innovating new and unique features or manufacturing methods that showcase quality. It could mean fusing different technologies or creating a new market. But it does mean doing these things in a way that closely ties the engineering with the overarching brand of the business.
Most importantly, brand-led engineering isn’t about simply creating functional products or innovating new processes or technology. Brand-led engineering is about creating value in a business that extends beyond the mere products or processes that typify most engineering businesses. It merges the different design, manufacturing and marketing activities to deliver a consistent brand message.
WHAT MAKES A LEADING BRAND-LED ENGINEERING BUSINESS?
The companies that have made the fastest strides in brand-led engineering are those who have already carved out a reputation for engineering excellence that they have been able to carry into other markets. These successful businesses often build on the innovation of their founder whose name often features as the brand under which further products and projects are developed.
It pays to adopt a brand-led approach from the outset – we encourage start-ups and SMEs to keep brand-led considerations front of mind as they develop their business, to capitalise on their reputation as it grows and ensure the brand is well protected and capable of enforcement. This allows the business to build new markets for its products and take advantage of new opportunities.
Although there are many ways to embrace and harness a brand-led approach in engineering, the most common success stories tend to display:
An ability to convey their reputation for quality and expertise. Often this will involve leveraging the name of their founder, for example McLaren, Dyson or Porsche.
That they are distinctive in their market and distinctive as a brand – this is important from a legal perspective as the uniqueness of a brand makes it more registrable and less likely to encounter third-party dispute.
An ability to market the same brand values in a wider range of situations and in the design and manufacture of a wider range of products with the broadest market appeal (including through collaborations with other businesses sharing similar brand values).
WHO ARE THE LEADERS IN BRAND-LED ENGINEERING?
The easiest way to explain what brand-led engineering looks like is to share some examples of current leaders in the field.
Dyson was originally known for its innovative vacuum cleaners. But now it’s known for its fans, hair styling products and other household appliances. Their brand is based on innovative technology, performance, and design, investing heavily in R&D that produces products that complement exceptional performance with a sleek, modern look.
Porsche is associated with precision engineering, exceptional performance, and luxury. The production of high-performance cars that employ the very latest automotive innovation has now led to an extended range of associated lifestyle products, extending from handbags to a luxury apartment building in Miami, designed to enable a wide range of consumers to enjoy the Porsche brand and quality that had previously been associated with their iconic cars.
Apple has always been recognised for its meticulous attention to design and efforts to provide the very best and consistent user experience that everyone recognises as “Apple”. Every Apple product - from the iPhone to the MacBook - reflects what they want their brand to be known for, simplicity, elegance and innovation. To achieve this, their engineers work hand in glove with their designers so each product works well and consistently showcases the Apple brand.
Bang & Olufsen
Known for its high-end audio and video products, B&O release products that utilise the latest tech within a highly designed casing which creates the feeling of high-end luxury.
Tesla’s aim is not only to create sustainable transportation solutions but also to position itself as a cutting-edge innovator. Therefore, they have specifically designed their engineering to produce sustainable high-performance electric vehicles based on the very latest technology.
Founded by Elon Musk, SpaceX has redefined space exploration by combining advanced engineering with a bold and adventurous image led by their ultimate aim, to colonise Mars.
Over the next few weeks, the brand specialists in our dedicated engineering team will be taking a much closer look at brand-led engineering. In the meantime, if you would like to discuss any aspect of developing, managing, protecting and enforcing your brand, please contact us today.