Intelligent Haptronic Solutions (IHS) – Marketing Strategy and Branding
Client Vision and Intent
Based in Vancouver, BC, Intelligent Haptronic Solutions (IHS) is a medical robotics startup, focused on developing industry-leading simulation platforms for medical educational and surgical training applications. They strive to provide advanced haptics, VR, artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud technology simulation solutions to complex training environments. To date, IHS has successfully prototyped two generations of the digestive endoscopy endoscopy simulator demo device. IHS is currently partnered with 11 high profile hospitals and medical schools in China and with the release of their alpha production prototype in 2020, they were looking to establish additional academic and industry partnerships for entry into the Canadian market.
In order to help IHS achieve their goals, Virtus Groups worked with IHS to establish their market position, create visual elements needed to provide IHS with a cohesive visual identity, and developed a preliminary marketing strategy to facilitate their product’s entry into the Canadian market. Virtus Groups was able to offer a range of expertise underpinned by an on-demand methodology which provided flexibility and enhanced efficiency.
Virtus Groups Development of Plan
To deliver a marketing strategy for IHS, Virtus Groups utilized its partner network and drew upon the expertise of a senior marketing leader from the pharmaceutical healthcare field, Andrew Tinkl. Andrew brought his experience of building and growing multimillion-dollar consumer healthcare and pharmaceutical brands, cultivated during his time at LifeScan Americas and Johnson & Johnson. Andrew’s strong grasp of business strategy, marketing and sales, strategic planning and team/ talent management was essential to the success of the project.
For the creative components of the engagement, Virtus Groups drew upon the internal talent of Zhanna Krupinina, Virtus’ Art Director. Zhanna is an expert at creating brand identities, including brand messaging, logotypes, colour palettes, and illustrations. Her experience extends to user interfaces for web applications, websites, and mobile applications.
To initiate the engagement, Virtus Groups began with a deep dive into IHS’ target market, current strategic outlook, and desired outcomes. Virtus Groups identified core activities to be conducted in order to deliver IHS an effective and scalable solution:
Develop the preliminary strategy
Create key visual elements
Virtus Groups Executes the Plan
In order to establish IHS’ positioning, Andrew Tinkl conducted the following essential activities:
Target market analysis: While IHS currently operates in China, they required an analysis and scope of the Canadian market, which includes Training Centers, Surgeons, and Residents.
Competitive brand positioning exercise: Once the target market was well defined, Virtus Groups developed IHS’ competitive brand and positioning statements to align all subsequent marketing strategy and activities.
Develop reasons to believe and key differentiators: Virtus Groups then narrowed down IHS’ key differentiators, what makes them stand out from their competitors in the Canadian market.
Virtus Groups subsequently reviewed IHS’s current efforts and ideas and built on the positioning efforts to draft out a strategy for IHS’ marketing activities in 2020 and beyond:
Communications: Virtus Groups strategized a phased communications for IHS to prove out their value proposition and key differentiators to their target market.
Branding: Virtus Groups identified key branding activities that needed to be undertaken for IHS’ Canadian product roll out.
Advisor Board Plan: Virtus Groups outlined the strategy for IHS to work closely with a small number of influential experts to set up pilot project locations and leverage outcomes for commercial roll out .
Clinical Claims Roadmap: Virtus Groups provided a strategy for IHS to conduct research projects required to drive clinical claims.
Following the strategy activities, Zhanna Krupinina identified key visual elements that were needed for IHS sales and marketing materials to present a cohesive visual identity:
Colour Palette: The colour palette is a crucial element of IHS’ visual elements, it differentiates IHS from competitors and shapes its personality. Working around IHS’ signature Deep Sky Blue colour, Virtus Groups designed a minimalistic yet distinctive palette that includes core, technologically toned blues and greys supported by brighter secondary colors that are used to highlight certain elements on the page.
Typography: Typography is another extremely important element that contributes to a cohesive visual language for IHS. The primary typeface is Muli, which is used for titles and subtitles, while the secondary brand typeface is SF Pro Text. Both are clean, san-serif font families that help to achieve a modern, organized, and clean look, which supports the colour palette perfectly.
Design System: To help visualize the new look, Zhanna set up design system guidelines that showcased the brand’s simplicity and scientific accessibility. To establish an innovative, crisp, light, and highly technological image of IHS, Virtus Groups created guidelines on the proper usage of imagery and text, aiming to provide a consistent representation across different areas. From product images to advertising, imagery plays a great role in the IHS identity. Virtus Groups outlined some principles and provided a demonstration of images that would support the brand. Thus, according to the new design systems’ manual, IHS images should feature their business, their products, and their employees. Photography taken with appropriate lighting, preferably on a light background, and with a large focus area, must always be subordinate to the company identity and establish a level of trust with its customers.
Virtus Groups set IHS on the path for a successful Canadian product roll out by establishing their competitive positioning, drafting a marketing strategy to fit their needs in 2020 and beyond, and executing on key visual branding activities. By engaging with Virtus Groups, IHS acquired expert capabilities for all strategy and visual elements without the cost associated with hiring an internal senior marketing specialist and designer. Instead, they had access to expert capacity, allowing them to focus on their core business activities while the Virtus Groups team handled the rest.
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