The virtues of new technologies and new communication channels giving brands an ever deeper and broader reach is clearly undeniable. Forcing products and services into the faces of consumers in ways that are instant and imaginative is often the grail marketeers seek. However, in this world of unquenchable desire to bring the brand to buyers, is it worth pausing, reflecting and investing in bringing the buyers to the brand? We certainly think so.
Admittedly, this is not a revolutionary thought - there are already things called shops after all. But we are not talking about retail, regardless of how ‘experiential’ these environments can sometimes be. We are talking about customer destinations that immerse, inspire involve and inform. Experiences that take customers on a nostalgic, narrative journey that engages and connects with their consciousness. Experiences that completely absorb their minds in messages that unfold before them and live in their memories long after they have left. Experiences that don’t just sell, but reward, creating ambassadors and continual conversation.
In November 2010, Studio MB were commissioned to design The Story of JCB at the global headquarters of JCB. This £5 million permanent presentation covering 2,500 m2 of floorspace illustrates the history of a family owned company. An enduring story following one pioneering, English engineer in a rented garage in post second world war austerity to one of the world’s biggest industrial equipment manufacturers and an internationally recognised super-brand.
The new facility is a brand ‘pilgrimage’ that captures JCB’s unique design and innovation ethos, and the company’s incredible growth and expansion into a global manufacturer with worldwide service and parts back-up. It’s devised to fulfil a pivotal role in winning business and promoting the brand, particularly in the world’s emerging markets. JCB headquarters already welcomes around 15,000 visitors from across the globe and this figure will rise significantly in 2012 as a result of the customer experience development.
Studio MB designed and installed a sequence of distinctly stylised scenographic zones for each of the chapters charting the development of the company. Fourteen landmark JCB machines are on display including Joseph Cyril Bamford’s first trailer welded together from WWII military surplus; the ground breaking Mark 1, the worlds first backhoe; and the JCB Dieselmax, the fastest diesel powered vehicle in the world. Sixteen dynamic, show controlled audio-visual installations, sequenced with lighting, are integrated into a variety of display architecture. A moving projection wall of haystacks; a 2 tonne Fastrac chassis suspended from chains hanging directly over a video wall; a convex floor dome with spinning globe projection; and a touch activated ‘wonderwall’ allows visitors to explore the entire current range of JCB vehicles. In addition a glass topped patent vault lies beneath your feet and a 90 metre long glass topped internally illuminated time line runs like a spine through the entire length of the environment. Perhaps most impressively, a giant 12 metre long skeletal model of a JCB JS200 tracked excavator built to scale out of 8mm steel rod.
Sounds like a glorified museum you say? Well, in a way yes. Nostalgia is not necessarily something that is dusty and irrelevant to contemporary life or modern day brands. Quite the opposite. Nostalgia is as recent as last month, last year, 10 years ago, or 100 years ago. Beautiful and colourful imac G3s are not old, yet the nostalgic affection for this iconic design is powerful and is rightly utilised as part of the overall brand communications of Apple. You may also have seen the new Audi advert which uses a witty take on a classic children‘s tale with a rather awkward looking 1920s coupe playing the part of the Ugly Duckling. Looking back at Audi’s significant past achievements reinforces credibility, authenticity and history of technological advances born out in the cars they produce.
This is exactly what The Story of JCB achieves in its new customer experience. It utilises the rich heritage of a British, family owned business to demonstrate nearly 75 years of ground breaking, technological advances which are part of the DNA of each and every machine they produce today.
All methods of communication and networking where the brand is exposed to the customer are valid. However, it’s much easier to truly believe in something if you can see, hear and touch it first hand. A brand destination can achieve this. Other channels of the marketing mix cannot.
Charlie Barr and Craig Mann, Founding Directors, StudioMB
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