Changing an audience’s perception of a business and its brand doesn’t have to mean throwing the baby out with the bath water. While a full rebrand can work wonders if the need is there, often a more measured approach that builds on existing strength is more effective.

This was the case with PA Hilton, a long-established and well-respected manufacturer of engineering teaching equipment, which supplies universities in the UK and around the world. All the right ingredients were there – quality products, a team of knowledgeable specialists, and a rich heritage dating back more than 60 years. These needed to be preserved - but the business risked losing ground to younger competitors whose brands were less established but more in tune with the digital age.

Polymedia worked closely with PA Hilton to go back to basics – beginning with the firm’s messaging. We identified how PA Hilton’s products were superior to those of competitors – their versatility, durability and capability. From there we developed the proposition of “value through quality” – now a PA Hilton watchword.

PA Hilton’s logo – an aerodynamic arrow representative of the company’s heritage in the aerospace industry – served them well but was looking a little tired by modern standards. Our design team produced a series of variations on the theme, settling upon a sleeker, more dynamic icon that better conveyed the forward motion of the business. This, and a refinement of the logotype and presentation of the company name, were enshrined in a set of brand guidelines to be applied to everything from letterheads and business cards to signage and product labels.

PA Hilton is a manufacturer of engineering teaching equipment

Dynamic datasheets

With messaging and brand in place, the next task was to address the biggest priority – the PA Hilton website. Built several years earlier, the site was really a digital brochure – listing products and giving contact information but little else.

The PA Hilton team also had a product datasheet conundrum that needed to be solved. Previously, an update to product specification had to be made by hand – so datasheets on the website had to be removed and updated every time. The company also struggled to maintain a consistent central resource for datasheets – frustrating for sales teams who needed access to the latest information while on the road.

In building a new website, Polymedia worked with a developer and coding team to produce a system that auto-generated datasheets from information entered on to the website. This meant any datasheet could easily be adapted by simply changing the product description, and ensured the website was an always up-to-date source of the latest information, with consistent branded datasheets that could be downloaded from anywhere.

The website building process was an opportunity for PA Hilton to review and refine its vast product range, categorising each by product type, the area of teaching it related to, the year of university study and the appropriate engineering law. Before the build even started, a huge amount of thought went into the user journey, examining customer types, locations, and their possible reasons for visiting the site. A comprehensive search facility on the website now quickly leads customers to the right product – and on to the sales team.

Content strategy

With the website live and working seamlessly, Polymedia’s attention then turned to the ongoing task of communicating with the target audience – lecturers, students and those working in the world of engineering.

The new website was built with content in mind, and is now fed regular blogs, news updates and thought pieces delivered through a content plan and shared on social media. Key staff at PA Hilton were given Polymedia LinkedIn and Twitter training to enable them to support the content and build their own online networks. E-shots, printed materials and product brochures, consistently produced from brand guidelines, support the website as part of an integrated communications strategy.

The result

The Polymedia approach has built on PA Hilton’s reputation and profile and revitalised its branding and communications. Sales staff now have a shop window to be proud of and a means of communicating with their target audience in a way that reflects the company’s position as a market leader.

Paul Ingram, Managing Director, said: “Polymedia’s input has been invaluable in transforming the way we talk about the PA Hilton brand and communicate with our existing and potential customers. The team are friendly, engaging and have taken us through the process step by step, with results that we are very proud of. Our team have enthusiastically adopted social networking as a means of communicating with customers in a way that is generating results.”