Why the Design-Build Model Makes Brand Awareness More Critical

  • Categories:

    Industry Trends, Marketing Insights, Brand Strategy

  • Date:

    June 30, 2023

Why the Design-Build Model Makes Brand Awareness More Critical

Industry Trends Marketing Insights Brand Strategy

In the name of delivering better-performing work that helps our clients win over audiences and build stronger brands, Wray Ward keeps a close eye on industry trends. And as a leader in home and building category marketing, we pay particular attention to how collaboration between key stakeholders — from architects and engineers to builders and general contractors — affects product choices and design decisions.

The rise of the design-build project model within the construction industry is a trend we’ve tracked for several years. A recent survey among members of The American Institute of Architects found that more than half expect design-build to increase in the next year. Broader industry trends also support this growth trajectory, with design-build construction spending forecasted to reach over $400 billion in 2025.

Not surprisingly, I heard a lot of discussion on this topic while representing Wray Ward at A’23 — AIA’s annual architecture and design conference.

But what makes design-build so appealing to the construction industry, and what does it mean for your brand?

What is the design-build model?

The traditional construction project often starts with separate hires of an architect/designer and a builder/contractor who may have no previous relationship or shared project work.

The design-build model is a more collaborative method for project delivery that combines the design and construction phases. In this approach, a single company — typically a design-build firm — is responsible for both designing and constructing the project.

Benefits of the design-build model include:

  • Improved collaboration: The design-build model promotes integration by involving architects, engineers, contractors and other stakeholders at the project’s start.

  • Streamlined processes: Incorporating the design and construction phases under a single roof allows a design-build team to move more cohesively, versus the traditional linear construction approach (where design is completed before construction begins).

  • Lowered costs: The partnership between designers and builders in the design-build model allows for more accurate cost estimations and more effective value engineering.

  • Enhanced product flexibility: An integrated approach allows design-build teams to explore new construction methods, materials and technologies without competing agendas or perspectives.

This last point is of particular significance for brands in the home and building industries, as it reflects the importance of marketing products and services in a way that speaks to all audiences involved in the design-build model. When done successfully, this can result in a scenario where your product is specified by the architect, advocated for by the engineer, purchased by the builder and installed by the contractor — because each of these stakeholders understands the value proposition for your product and how it helps them meet their shared project goals.

Brands are friends. Products are strangers.

In AIA’s “The Architect’s Journey to Specification” research report from 2022, 87% of architects stated they expect and rely on manufacturers to advise them on their product category as a whole. In other words, architects often supplement their knowledge with guidance and technical advice directly from the manufacturer.

As a result, architects look at brands as shortcuts to finding answers. If you match your products’ performance with valuable resources — from online content libraries and technical documentation to a robust distribution network — then that’s one fewer thing for the architect to research.

In this sense, products are “strangers” that are more likely to come with risks and uncertainty while brands are “friends” that reduce liability and provide comfort. Architects don’t like risk — so brands specified for one job will often be used again and again by an architect because they become confident in the product’s performance.

This approach is also often the same for builders and contractors: If your product delivers on its promise, that translates to brand loyalty.

To achieve this level of advocacy, marketers must create successful B2B purchase journeys, driven by brand experiences that serve the needs and the personal agendas of each of these stakeholders.

Take Advantage of a Collaboration

At AIA’s 2023 conference, I attended a panel discussion that proved to be one of the highlights of my visit. The panelists talked about the growing importance of integration as a pathway to fostering collaboration and driving better project outcomes. This concept is another example of how the design-build model can create a competitive advantage when executed well.

Brands in the home and building category also stand to gain from the collaborative nature of the design-build model. Because the model often provides greater cost control, the value engineering and optimization stages happen early in the project timeline. This means that if you can get buy-in from the right stakeholders to specify and approve your product’s inclusion, your chances of losing the bid diminish with the design-build model. (Conversely, in the design-bid-build model, cost can often trump the spec later in the project cycle.)

This is where mapping a path-to-purchase journey for your brand’s target audiences is so critical.

How to Map a Path-to-Purchase Journey

  • Define audience engagement throughout the purchasing journey to gain an appreciation for what they are doing, thinking and feeling, and to identify information and engagement needs.

  • Ensure you have the right information for them at the right time.

  • Identify any roadblocks to purchase that your brand engagement and communications must help overcome.

Given the collaborative nature of the design-build model, material and product decisions are becoming more of a team sport between the architect, engineer, builder, engineer and contractor. As a result, trying new products is often a group decision.

To take advantage of this dynamic, marketers should consider the role of brand communications in each stage, touch point and tipping point. Look at, too, where in the purchase journey your message can have the greatest impact.

For more insights on how to reach your target audience, check out our chief creative officer’s blog on tapping the power of brand differentiation.

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