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March 27, 2007

STAND AND DELIVER: How Toyota spread its brand experience

Toyota is a company that prides itself on its socially responsible credentials, its Make a Difference strategy runs through everything the company does. Miles Griffin, Toyota Industrial Equipment marketing manager explains how the company used its stand at the recent IMHX exhibition at the NEC to get this message across.

“IMHX is the biggest show for Toyota Industrial Equipment in the UK and runs every three years," he says. "An estimated 20,000 visitors will attend this year and among them are key decision makers and buyers. The show provides us with a great opportunity to showcase the quality of our brand, and we can demonstrate what it is that makes us different from our competitors, and build on long-term relationships with our customers."

Toyota makes its presence felt at this year's IMHX


Environmentally friendly
Toyota has always put enormous emphasis on reducing the negative impact of business on the environment. It continually aims to improve its own business and that of its customers, and it does this through “the advancement of productive, safer and greener product offerings”. It also recognises that people are the lifeblood of every business and looks for ways to improve people’s working lives and, therefore, their contribution to their business. This is what the company calls Make a Difference.

Make a Difference is at the heart of our product and service offerings,” explains Griffin. “Toyota Industrial Equipment is constantly designing new technology to limit the effects of production on the environment. Our products speak for themselves in the reduction of environmental damage; all Toyota Generation 7 trucks are 99% recyclable and available with a carbon-neutral operation.”

So how important does Griffin feel live marketing is to getting this message across? “Without a doubt, it is the best way to communicate our Make a Difference message at IMHX,” he enthuses. “It provides a personal, face-to-face setting – an antidote to the pressures of a ‘hard-sell’ environment – in which to build relationships with our customers and help them to understand our aims and how we go about achieving them for the benefit of their business. For example, all visitors to IMHX have the opportunity to experience the Toyota brand beyond the trucks – they get to see our wider service offerings and we have an opportunity to understand how we can work with our customers on long-term solutions to help them increase productivity. By giving visitors a more engaging experience of Toyota through live marketing, we believe that a much stronger link can be forged between us and our customers.”


Practising what they preach: Toyota reused large parts of its
2004 stand at this year's IMHX and just refreshed the graphics and branding, without compromising on impact


Making a difference
The stand at this year's IMHX was designed by the companies agency, MICE Group, to reflect Toyota’s approach and show off it’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) credentials. It used a series of innovative approaches to extend the reach of this message. Griffin continues: “The main purpose of the stand design is to communicate the Toyota Make a Difference proposition and all elements work together to achieve this. The Generation 7 forklift and new Toyota Prius hybrid car were on display, giving visitors an overview of the Toyota brand, as well as its commitment to the environment across the business. MICE created an eye-catching, giant (4m2) LED screen cube in the centre of the stand that dominated the hall and featured key brand messages and a short film about our commitment to being a greener business.”

The company also decided to reuse elements of its 2004 stand, in keeping with its CSR agenda, and instead of a complete rebuild, MICE refreshed the graphics, branding and colour schemes. The focus of the design and layout for 2007 was on creating an open and inviting space. “We wanted it to be corporate without being hostile. We wanted a clean, fresh and uncluttered stand and have achieved this through the open-plan style without walls or restricted access,” explains Griffin.

This year the group extended the Toyota experience further both on-stand and beyond the exhibition with wifi facilities, a 3D web tour and an on-stand webcam. “The wifi allows visitors to relax in the hospitality area with a drink while checking their emails,” says Griffin, “while the webcam means that people who are unable to attend the exhibition can join in the experience virtually, and those who have already been to the stand can re-visit it from the office and monitor the latest news and activities.”


Virtual racing: Keeping your stand visitors entertained when
they're on your stand is essential



That's entertainment
But it’s not enough just to get people’s attention, as Griffin explains, once on the stand, Toyota wanted to make sure their guests were entertained. “To create some buzz about the Toyota brand we used our sponsored Formula One car simulator,” he says. “Visitors could take part in the Toyota lap challenge and race in a virtual environment to get the fastest lap time of the day. The specially modified car has a screen mounted on it, which displays the virtual race track in a similar way to a games console. A camera was also mounted on the car and both the screen and camera were relayed live to the screen cube to enhance the experience and attract visitors to the stand.”

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