Marketers and Brand Managers are in a unique position. They need to be comfortable in the creative and operations aspects of a business – on the one hand, making sure that all activities stay true to the heart of the brand and on the other, playing a role in improving the bottom line.
That means that, even if a new trend or advancement seems overly technical, we must always try to look at it through a marketing lens.
One such advancing technology is 3D Printing.
Just as you would explain any campaign to a designer, they would visualise a render and you would sign off on final artwork before it is produced – there are 3D printing houses that can fabricate physical models of just about anything a marketer can imagine. A 3D printer creates solid objects from a digital file – much like a real printer – except instead of using ink printed flat on paper, a layering method is used. A special type of molten plastic gets squeezed through a tiny nozzle (the movements of which are under computer control) and the object is created in 3-dimensional space, from the bottom up.
In the medical world, a company called Ossiform, works with doctors to 3D-print specialised, patient specific bones with natural bone porosity. Made from natural biomaterials, these bones resorb over time and remodel into real living bone.
This incredible technology can also be used to grow your brand. As the world changes, so does the way consumers think about themselves and so, too, the way marketers need to interact with them in order to remain relatable. Here’s how other brands embraced 3D printing for creative marketing.
An engineering firm that produces products that are too large to demonstrate on a tradeshow floor, had a frustrated sales team approach marketing for a solution. Luckily the team (as all marketers should) kept up with the latest tech trends and knew that 3D printing was the way to go. With the technical specifications of the product, exactly as the engineering team would build it, a 3D printer created an exact replica of the product, in a size that fit the sales team’s need for demonstrations and theoretical training. You don’t have to own a printer either. 3D printing farms and general manufacturing businesses, such as Amazon, are beginning to offer this as a service.
However, big brands like Volkswagen have been using an in-house 3D printer to create prototypes of their vehicles since the technology became available. A campaign built around their ethos of making driving innovations available to everyone, saw them make this 3D printer available to everyone – giving fans the opportunity to design their own VW and potentially have it 3D printed. Campaigns like this, invite your audience in – giving them an opportunity to share the experience of creating with their favourite brand. Now, your relationship is elevated, it’s no longer simply transactional and consumers feel like they are part of the process.
Brands like Disney have mastered the idea and execution of experiences. Take it from one of the biggest brands on the planet – connecting with your customers must be engaging and dynamic. You don’t have to build multiple theme parks and your experiences don’t even have to be permanent. But whether it’s a pop-up brand activation or a showroom at your head office – offering people a personalised keepsake can go a long way to forging those brand loyalty bonds. Disney allows guests to 3D print their faces onto princess figurines – a lifelong memento of a magical moment.
Think of things in everyday life that your customers might want to personalise, from cell phone covers (which Nokia and Soundcloud have offered) to stationery. Even if you’re not in the business of manufacturing those items, as long as they are part of a narrative for a cohesive campaign, you can offer your audience something meaningful to connect them to you.
However you use this amazing technology, as long as you stay true to your brand and keep an authentic and open conversation with your audience, you’ll no doubt see significant growth for your business.
Here are some videos about 3D printing: