Bowers & Wilkins

Case Study

Brand overview

Bowers & Wilkins is a 50-year old British hi-fi company. Based in Worthing, West Sussex, the company has grown from a one-man operation constructing products behind an electronics store to become the world leader in high-end, high-performance loudspeakers. The high-end 800 Series Diamond is the most popular premium loudspeaker range in the world.

The challenge

The challenge facing Bowers & Wilkins was to translate this success in the audiophile arena, into the wider world of consumer electronics. After tasting initial success in 2007 with the Zeppelin iPod speaker, the brand wanted to expand its footprint in this market, as well as the lucrative world of headphones. However, unlike new challengers who are at liberty to create a completely new brand identity – think SONOS, Beats – Bowers & Wilkins has five decades of heritage behind it, as well as a very well established premium loudspeaker business the customers for which may not appreciate a new brand identity.

The thinking

Bowers & Wilkins pulled apart its brand ethos and looked in detail at its story, its proposition and its products in order to uncover its essence; what it is about Bowers & Wilkins that encouraged hundreds of thousands of customers worldwide over five decades to invest in its products.

The answer to what made the company stand out from the competition came down to once major factor: sound quality.

The message: True Sound

High performance audio is the reason customers opt for Bowers & Wilkins. Yes the products look great, yes the brand has some amazing stories to tell, but over the last five decades the reason people who chosen its products – and continued to return to the brand many times over – is the level of performance it offers over ALL the competition. Its products are always at the top end of a price bracket, but when it comes to performance they always offer exceptional value for money.

P5 Wireless

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Driving the message

So Bowers & Wilkins took the approach of amplifying its decades of experience in audio innovation and the success of its high-end loudspeakers to explain the benefits of buying its more affordable, consumer electronics products. It did this through messaging, imagery, partnerships and content.

Consistent messaging

All messaging pays back into the concept of sound quality, and its benefits to the listener, which works both on a product-by-product basis, but also to align Bowers & Wilkins with the idea of better sound over a long period of time, and over a wide variety of media.

Bowers & Wilkins communications say the same thing: Yes, this looks beautiful, but more importantly it sounds considerably better than the competition and is designed by the very same people who make the high-end loudspeakers.

Zeppelin

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Evocative imagery

We all know how important images are to story telling, and Bowers & Wilkins decided to invest in the quality and range of images they produced for marketing purposes. All the images set out to promote the high-performance of the products – and while this is tricky in terms of picturing sound, it was achieved through high-quality location shots – that really spoke to potential customers – sumptuous product imagery and plentiful, relevant technical imagery used to support the True Sound proposition.

Informative videos

Video is a fantastic method of supporting key messages, and Bowers & Wilkins works hard at producing advertising-style videos that deliver on the key selling points of all its product launches. However, it also puts a lot of its efforts into ‘supporting’ videos; films that allow people who wanted more information to dig deeper, and discover more of the story as they wish. These videos have proved immensely popular – particularly on social media channels – and are a very effective, cost effective way of engaging with interested customers.

800 Series

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Smart Social Media 

Bowers & Wilkins has worked to produce engaging, highly relevant social media content. The result – it has a highly engaged social media audience. The numbers may not be as high as some of its big league competitors, but Social is not about getting a large number of  ‘Likes’ from unengaged people who have no desire to buy your products. Bowers & Wilkins numbers are growing steadily, but the level of engagement can be phenomenal, with degrees of interaction and engagement that brands with ten times as many ‘Likes’ can only dream of. This is because the content is focused, considered, and able all engaging.

The new high-end speakers

The goal may have been to take the Bowers & Wilkins message to new markets, but the approach ended up coming full circle. The lessons the brand learned in promoting the more affordable products paid dividends for the launch of the new high-end 800 Series Diamond range. The brand felt that the improvements in the communications of the rest of its products had raised the bar so high, that it needed to do more with its high-end range. This led to the most comprehensive set of assets the brand ever developed, including class-leading internal communications, and also its most successful launch ever. And, therefore, with even more stories about True Sound with which to promote its more affordable consumer electronics products.