By looking to the past, we sometimes can see the future that was promised to us. Using the finding that most Westerners love kitschy retro visions of the future, we came up with a brand strategy that is fun, matches our clients’ personalities, and distinguishes them in a sea of sameness that their competition is drowning in.
In this case study, you’ll learn how creating a memorable brand and finding the right marketing platforms turned an obscure tech company into media rock stars.
They make robots move and cars drive themselves. Virtually unknown to the public, they needed a memorable brand, a website that was appealing to specific audiences, and a marketing direction. Their competitors have some admittedly beautiful websites, but beautiful in a, “Wow, this is pretty, but where the hell do I actually click?” kind of aesthetic.
Dataspeed will readily admit they invent and build very well, but are rather clueless when it comes to marketing. That’s where we came in.
All of whom have spawned a massive revival in collecting antiques and bygone fashion, it is clear that a longing for our grandparents’ past is part of our collective being.
And it’s not only the past as it was, but how those in the past thought of the future. Kitchy postcards of flying cars, housewives in rockets, and companies on the Moon are hugely popular.
This led to an insight about Americans: Most of us do have a fondness for retro visions of the future. Think The Jetsons, Eero Saarinen furniture, or the original iMac. The future that we were always promised with driverless cars and robots that tagged along. Dataspeed was one company actually delivering on that vision.
We extended this future-that-never-was vision to the look and feel of their brand. We chose flat colors set upon Modernist grid structures with Swiss school typefaces. This lets us create a decidedly retro feel, updated with touches the original Modernist designers never had: subtle animation, content rows that scroll independently of each other… and 3D robots.
The tone and voice had to complement the visual aesthetic. After a lengthy branding exercise, we decided that the writings of actor Paul Newman rang true with the brand. Newman writes in a brief, punchy style, with a very dry sense of humor; was exactly what we were looking for.
While we worked on the website, we put up an email signup page with a video background to capture advance interest in the brand. Dataspeed mentioned that they received 10–20 sign ups each day.
The website needed to stand out from the competition. We felt our retro aesthetic would certainly stand out in an industry that seemed to prefer artsy, video-heavy sites with questionable navigation.
We opted for minimal navigation and fewer pages with content broken into small chunks. This allowed us to meet the expectations of several audiences:
1. Engineers who wanted technical data
2. Venture capitalists who wanted a 50,000-foot view of the company
3. The media, which desperately wanted to find sources that explained these new products in ways even a child could grasp
Technical products are rarely the crux of viral shares. True, some unusual technologies capture our attention, but for the most part, technical companies cannot expect a huge return from say, Facebook.
However, we had two interesting products: a kit that allows almost any car to become a driverless (autonomous) vehicle, and a base that allows a stationary robot to move around and perform additional tasks it normally could not.
Our media ecosystems showed the best platforms to gain traction on were off the beaten track as far as social media goes. We chose ResearchGate as our publishing platform and PitchEngine for social press releases. For the more commercially accessible video content, YouTube was a natural pick.
The Dataspeed engineers have also become rock stars on ResearchGate. More than 1,000 scientists on ResearchGate have read and favorited Dataspeed’s technical white papers.