The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) struggled with a cumbersome name and even more tedious acronym. Sapient was engaged to transform a government acronym into a national brand that represents American innovation, public-private collaboration, and a catalyst for positive change. Established by President Obama to catalyze the manufacturing sector, the program embarked upon developing a public, national identity for the program that would support its vision of securing the nation’s economic and security future. The brand needed to speak to the mission of the program and the goals of the manufacturing community, leadership from the program institutes, as well as be the consensus decision of an interagency team that included: U.S. Departments of Commerce, Energy, and Defense, as well as representatives from the National Economic Council and Executive Office of the President.
Starting in early June 2016, the team researched, developed, and delivered the brand for its unveiling at the September 12th opening of the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) by the US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. In addition to its high-profile debut, Manufacturing USA is a top priority of the Obama administration. The deadline was tight, and the stakes were high.
Building consensus across a complex network ecosystem on an extremely tight schedule required collaboration and cooperation at the highest levels. Using online surveys and another interaction ideation session, a list of names for the program and a creative direction for the brand were refined and final choices selected. The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation would continue to be the official name of the program per the 2013 RAMI Act, but it will be publicly known as Manufacturing USA going forward. The creative direction reflects the high-tech, bright, leading-edge nature of advanced manufacturing.
With a name and direction chosen, the creative team dove into logo generation and refinement, leading to a final interactive workshop where dozens of potential logos were narrowed to seven options that were put into testing. Using an online survey more than 1,000 people from the Manufacturing USA community were able to weigh in on the final logo choice that would be revealed by US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker at her opening remarks at IMTS 2016.
Crafting the brand experience for Manufacturing USA relied on primary and secondary audience research that informed the brand platform, audience ecosystem, and key audience segment profiles. These profiles focused on how each segment related to the program and each other, looking at information needs, challenges, and messages most likely to resonate with each to move them to participation with the program.
To set the standard for how the brand should be used visually and editorially, the team created a comprehensive brand manual encompassing everything the program expected from a style guide, and adding additional references for speaking about the program, protecting their trademark, and detailed guidance on photography and other graphics.
Informed by the audience research, a Marketing and Communications (MarComms) strategy was developed to guide the program in using the brand assets, as well as communicating effectively to reinforce the brand with target audiences. Four strategic themes synthesized from the extensive interview and audience research are the cornerstones for establishing communications for Manufacturing USA. The team further analyzed the goals of the program and the goals the program has for each of its audiences to generate ten key messages that resonate across those audiences and illustrate the strategic themes. These references make it easy for the program to target marketing and communications efforts by mapping themes to messages and messages to audiences. By determining which audiences an effort should reach, the program can develop messaging aligned with the corresponding key messages for those audiences, and use the related themes to guide visuals and other collateral.
To complement the new name and logo, the team further ensured the client’s success by providing both strategic, long-term and tactical, short-term plans for implementing the new brand assets, as well as providing on-site support at IMTS for the announcement.