What can NeoCon teach us about successful brand management?
Last week I attended NeoCon, the largest interior design trade show in North America. Over 40,000 architects and designers converged on the Merchandise Mart in Chicago to peruse 700 showrooms in 1 million square feet of space spanning the building’s 10 floors.
I’ve been to many trade shows over the years, and NeoCon is definitely one of my favorites. It’s vibrant and energetic. It’s a virtual sea of the most beautiful furniture, carpet, textiles, lighting and accessories imaginable. I love the way products are showcased with such care and precision. But probably the reason I love NeoCon most of all is because the show is ultimately about fashion, which is a passion of mine. It’s impossible to go to NeoCon, and not come away feeling inspired to take some of the ideas I see and try them in my own home.
As I walked the show and chatted with exhibitors, many remarked that attendance was well up over last year. Indeed, I noticed that some showrooms were packed to the gills however others were quite the opposite. The ones that were packed were the ones you might expect; the industry giants – Herman Miller, Allsteel, Haworth. This led me to think about why some manufacturers are able to attract people and others aren’t so successful. I believe it comes down to four main factors:
1) New products.
The A&D community loves new products. It’s a major reason why they attend NeoCon. They are always on the lookout for new products that express the feeling or point of view they are trying to convey in a space. Manufacturers that feature new products, especially those that are unique or different in some way, will successfully draw traffic to their showrooms.
2) Great relationships with dealers and the A&D community.
Architects and designers depend on manufacturers to provide stellar service and superior product knowledge. Manufacturers that take a proactive approach in working with designers to solve problems and propose solutions through the application of their products stand a much better chance of being specified.
3) A strong visual identity.
As you would expect, design permeates every aspect of a designer’s life. They draw inspiration from things they see every day – architecture, fashion, color, shapes, landscapes. Manufacturers that truly understand this invest in a distinct brand identity. And they are relentless when it comes to detail. Their logo, color story, fonts and marketing materials all work together to make a statement about who they are.
4) A trusted brand.
Familiarity and past history with a brand are critical to getting specified, so it’s important that manufacturers find ways to build trust and credibility with the A&D community. Manufacturers’ sales reps can play a key role in helping build that trust. Lunch and learns sessions, product training seminars, and easy availability of updated and accurate materials that aid in the specification process are all ways which enable reps to stand out, gain trust and win new clients.
Architects and designers play an important role in how your products get specified and ultimately purchased. Manufacturers who understand how this audience thinks and what drives them will gain an important ally in the specification process.
Flickr image courtesy of Deivis.
Please add your bio info through your member profile page, or through your dashboard.