Philip Dwyer Chief Digital officer
It truly changed the perception of the Highway1 programme in San Francisco, and it definitely placed the programme ahead of its competitors in terms of communications.
It’s the sort of statement made by many an agency about their projects — but it’s rarely can delivered with such sincerity.
For WONDR Brand Director, Oisín Hurst, however, it’s 100% justified. For not only had he and WONDR founder, Dermot O’Shea worked to develop a digital presence that showcased future startup — but the project also gave the PCH a story and experience that would lead to greater recognition.
Of course, while these changes would end up impacting just about every facet of the wide-ranging business, they all stemmed from a response to one relatively small problem.
The hardware company, which was founded by Irishman Liam Casey, made its name working with Fortune 500s companies (well known phone, tech & fashion brands) and IoT startups ranging from flic to Ringly to develop, manufacture, package and distribute hardware products for companies that ranged from plucky startups to large multinational corporations.
The issue wasn’t that Fortune 500 companies weren’t on board — in fact, it scored highly in brand awareness with them. The problem was many people weren’t aware of its supply chain capabilities; in other words, it was limited in perception to a mere manufacturer.
As part of its services, PCH was bringing products from the drawing board into people’s hands, taking startups through every step of the process — an end-to-end process that was being missed by clients. That knowledge gap prompted PCH to review the entirety of its business — including its seven business units which cover areas B2B, B2C, B2B2C and more — and from there, it created a product that would be consistent but also caters for the differences each unit offered.
When WONDR was approached by Philip Dwyer, PCH International’s group Chief Digital Officer, the aim was clear: to avoid the clichés associated with corporate sites and blogs, mainly one that only pushed its own announcements without offering anything in return.
“PCH had a great story, particularly Liam Casey’s journey to build the company into a trusted partner with some of the World’s best known technology brands,” says Dermot. “As an avid fan of WIRED, I was well versed with getting information around hardware launches as a consumer, so this project gave me a chance to understand it all from the business side too.”
The approach taken was certainly different, Oisin notes, “As Philip proposed the first PCH project to us, it was clear that he intended to use digital as the first platform to express the brand repositioning. He was very open about the fact he didn’t want yet another corporate site that would act as a recording archive of past press releases.”
Instead the brief was to develop a strong digital platform that would clarify PCH intent in the connected hardware revolution. Working on the master site and all the sister sites, we managed to produce a convincing industrial and service story.
The standout example is its hardware startup accelerator Highway1. On the landing page, you’re presented with a short background video showing what it offers, a clean design, large images that catch the eye, two main colours — sky blue and white — to complement each other, and a straightforward interface that works both on desktop and mobile.
This is a great representation of WONDR’s work — communicating the main thread connecting all of PCH’s units: the speed of hardware innovation, the momentum driving connected hardware and the worldwide ecosystem behind it. All while maintaining PCH’s unique identity.
Dermot says, “Highway1.io tells that story best. We transformed the website from a simple start-up registration form to a strong showcase of the alumni startups; the blog quickly became a must-read destination for all hardware start-up looking for an accelerator programme”.
Telling that story helps prepare those visiting Highway1 or any of PCH’s services. By getting a sense of what it has to offer, they would know they were engaging with something more than just a hardware service.
“PCH were very active at the time on the global tech event circuit, regularly featured in WIRED, TechCrunch and The Wall Street Journal, so they needed their digital branding to reflect the scale of business they truly were,” says Dermot. “Also they were well connected with the VC community in Silicon Valley so it was important that when those influential people visited any of the web platforms ahead of a Demo Day for example, that they got the sense they were dealing with one of the world’s best.”
While it’s an obvious thing to say, having a clear digital presence is important — all the more so for PCH, allowing it to use the many different advantages brought about by digital, including gaining customer insights, improving relations and customer lifetime value.
In short, it’s easier to find leads, improve collaborations and grow demand through digital, making the redesign more than the sum of its parts — and this digital version of the company perfectly represented what the team was trying to get across in the first place: end-to-end integration.
“More importantly, it provided an opportunity for PCH Group companies to present the unique, seamless and interwoven customer journey, emphasising end-to-end services with demonstrable case studies in how we deliver continuous customer value creation,” says Philip.
“We don’t see digital purely as a channel to market, particularly as digital continues to create new frameworks for industries and consumers alike.”
“Consequently, digital has provided strong scalable advantages internally by improving executive strategies leading to business process optimisation, and enhancing capital and resource efficiency across the business”.
Highway1 wasn’t the only standout project WONDR worked with PCH on. there was also the official rebranding and launch of PCH Group site at the Dublin Web Summit. It too followed a similar line of thinking to Highway1.
“WONDR utilised rich publication solutions to create an immersive experience that not only clearly articulated the PCH Group proposition, but additionally facilitated deep-dives into the unique services offerings from PCH,” says Philip. “It continuously delivered countless competitive advantages for Fortune 500’s and startup IOT companies along the journey from prototype to consumer”.
Not to mention the launch of Hardware for Health, a strategic collaboration between PCH and Johnson & Johnson Innovation, which looks at advancing new healthcare solutions.
For that, WONDR developed a responsive site with integrated CRM (Customer Relationship Management) functionality, catering for the custom-fit programme that brings innovative health hardware startups from concept to the consumer.
And that’s not including how it’s assisted PCH in other group companies like TNS Connect and PCH Access. It’s a partnership that has reaped dividends for both parties.
Oisín remarks, “Digital is a core space for the development of direct business communications. Controlling owned platforms makes it easier to develop leads, develop demand and increase collaborations.”
“For example, as PCH collaborated with Johnson & Johnson to develop a health hardware accelerator programme, we were able to develop a communication platform and a registration service in just few days. The first registrations came in within just a few weeks of the businesses agreeing to the programme.”
While Highway1 is seen as a jewel in the crown, with everyone saying it’s the project they’re most proud of, really the main draw is how the entire project came together as a collective.
“I’ve said it a few times to anyone that will listen, that Highway1 was one of my favourite projects as it gave WONDR a chance to show the difference digital branding can make,” says Dermot. “Two years later, the brand and its digital presence hold up well and document the early stages of startups as they invent the products of the future.”
“Collectively, it was developing the holistic group brand proposition for PCH, while also implementing a portfolio of digital assets that both showcase and seamlessly integrate PCH’s end-to-end digital solutions platform,” says Philip.
“Yet at an individual project level, it is Highway1 that stands out. It was a pleasure to collaborate with the team at WONDR in developing a site that captures its unique and compelling offering.