By Chad Clinehens

From roads, to airports, to neighborhoods, to office buildings – civil and structural engineers touch the lives of people everyday. The general public uses these facilities all day long, yet many people do not fully understand what engineers do. 

As an industry, we need to do a better job of increasing visibility around what we do. The recruiting and retention challenge in the AEC industry is reason enough to think bigger about how we can capture attention and draw people to our firms. One of the strategies I recommend AEC firms employ to drive performance is to maximize brand visibility. 

Brand Visibility can be defined as the frequency at which people see your brand, anywhere. Unfortunately, when we say brand in the AEC industry, most think of it in far too small of terms, focusing on websites, proposals, brochures, and similar marketing materials. Those are all very important, but usually are seen only by a small audience, and one that already understands what the firm does. You can increase your reach by focusing on things that are visible to the general public.  Consider some of the following tips to increase your brand visibility. 

  • Make your vehicles stand out– Vehicles are a great way to expand your brand if you think of them like moving billboards. Stop buying white vehicles like everyone else and get a color that stands out. Black, red, blue, or a color that matches your logo. Then make sure the company name and logo stand out. If you really want to stand out, you could get a “wrap” which allows you to cover your car in a graphic design. Think Checker Cab. They used Checker cars, originally. You knew it was them when you saw one. How can you use this tactic as a design or construction firm? Just get every car to be something that is unique and make sure they are all painted in a unique color scheme. People will start seeing them “everywhere.”
  • Brand your equipment – Equipment such as trailers or boats or drilling rigs, or even laptop cases, should also contribute to brand visibility. Brand every item your staff uses so that it shows clearly your company is your company, not some other firm. Additionally, branded equipment bonds your teams together. People like to have matching gear that stands out. This includes attire. Invest in the logo wear as it increases your brand visibility significantly. 
  • Go big with building signage – Make sure every office you have employs the biggest sign allowed by law. People will start knowing your name even if they don’t know anything about what you do. That’s fine— that’s a great first step in achieving more brand visibility. 
  • Make project signage a priority – Put up big signs everywhere you can. The construction side of the business is really where people see the design come to life and is an opportunity for every AEC firm to connect engineering design and its impact on the world. Most people get excited about new projects and amenities in their communities, we should be proud of our roles as designers and show the public that “this is what we do ”.

One of the pillars of Zweig Group’s Elevate The Industry vision is promotion. It is important because we need to promote the engineering profession and attract more students. STEM programs are a step in the right direction, but there are many other things that AEC firms could do to aid in this cause. Brand visibility drives business success, but it also elevates the industry!


Chad Clinehens, P.E., is Zweig Group’s president and CEO. Contact him at cclinehens@zweiggroup.com.

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