Pete Allen, Another dimension

Have you heard of architectural marketing? Pete Allen, managing director, 4D Design and Display, suggests it’s the “experiential marketing” of 2012


Bringing a brand to life in a live event is a very valuable skill. How much that skill is worth is, in large, dependent upon how much the owners value their brand and how much they value the knowledge, experience and talent that goes into making it work in a three-dimensional marketing environment.

I think I can safely propose that there is a wide spectrum of what constitutes making it work, from the jaw dropping presentation of a brand that engages with its target audience, imprinting itself upon them, and a visible presence for the brand.

As budgets tighten across the live brand arena perhaps we need to take a moment to reassess how we position ourselves in the eyes of the clients. The value of a service and what anyone is prepared to pay for it is very much orientated around the perception of how hard it is to deliver that service. If we are perceived to just build a structure and pop a logo onto it, then it will become increasingly difficult to gain recognition of the intellectual exercise that goes into creating a three-dimensional brand experience.

In some parts of the industry this valuable skill is thrown into the market as a lost leader, tempting the prospect but essentially reducing the value placed upon the very part of the process that will deliver the value. The physical side of the process of delivery is far easier for brand owners to quantify, compare and effectively reduce to a commodity and, if this proliferates we stand to find budgets and margins being eroded.

The route to maintaining the position of a highly skilled offering to brand owners I believe is that we are in need of a little “perception management”. It is in all of our interest to drive the value proposition up. Why should the creative process not sit alongside that of architecture, after all we are creating architectural marketing – the communication of a brand through a physical structure. It may be a temporary structure but that does not change the basic premise. In fact, to create a structure that delivers the brand engagement, and that can be built and removed quickly and safely, and is done repeatedly, I would suggest is a greater skill and of a higher value.

Whatever the structure, the understanding of the physical and structural requirements remains in much the same way as in architecture. We have our own standards, rules and regulations. We also have the knowledge of physical form, communications, space, movement, flow and aesthetics but, we also have another overriding understanding and that is how a brand engages and interacts with an audience in an incredibly short period of time, in a busy environment and leaves it imprinted with the desired values.

As an ex-architecture student I believe that we need to begin to realign ourselves with this discipline rather than those which can be easily commoditised, stop undervaluing the intellectual process involved and effect shift in perception towards a high-value service. Perhaps we need to take a lesson from experiential marketing and sell our experience – after all, we are architectural marketers.