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Developing a powerful international brand for IPAF, the world authority in powered access.

The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) is the world leader in training operators and managers who rely on powered access for safe and effective work at height. This has added further weight to its internationally respected voice on all aspects of the use, legislation and standards relating to this increasingly widely used equipment.

Effective communication on an international scale has been crucial in transforming IPAF from a specialist trade association into a world-class force promoting the industry it represents. Building the image and reputation of the Federation within its own industry, with user industries as well as with regulatory bodies, government and standards agencies has demanded an especially thorough and often proactive approach to market communications.

Close working relationship

Since 1993 IPAF has worked with Sussex-based R&M Marketing Ltd to deliver its message and promote its brand image. “The key to our successful, long-term relationship with IPAF has been the development of especially close working links with the IPAF team and getting to know their business, aims and objectives almost as well as they do”, is how R&M's Richard Rawlings believes the benefits have been achieved.

The timing of the involvement of R&M marked a turning point for IPAF. Founded in 1983, it had already become a successful trade association representing its relatively static membership of major manufacturers and rental companies. The development of its operator training programme in the early 90s was to change this by bringing the Federation to international prominence.

The founder of IPAF, and managing director at the time, Paul Adorian, was familiar with Richard Rawlings’ expertise and experience from as far back as 1970 when he played a major part in launching EPL, an aerial platform rental business set up by Paul Adorian, to a market place that did not begin to understand the potential of such machines.

He recalls IPAF's decision to use R&M “We knew we had the right approach to training but encountered resistance to its wider uptake; we needed to highlight its commercial benefits with a powerful brand image and marketing message. I knew R&M’s expertise and experience especially in construction and construction plant. It turned out to be a good decision; we made substantial progress with their help,” he explains.

Brand development

R&M developed the concept of the Powered Access Licence and Card as well as the branding for the PAL Card. This is given to all successful trainees and has become the most widely recognised and accepted proof that an operator has been properly trained in the use of powered access equipment. The PAL brand and the visible success of the training programme have become synonymous with IPAF and its authority on all aspects of powered access equipment use, design and manufacture.

IPAF training is delivered by approved and regularly audited training centres. Strong branding and effective promotion has seen this grow from a handful of UK centres training hundreds of operators in the early 90s to over 400 centres in 21 countries now training over 80,000 every year. Over 500,000 operators already carry the PAL Card to confirm their ability to use powered access safely and productively. They now need to; increasingly, legislation worldwide is demanding such proof of proper training.

Increased turnover

The success of the IPAF training programme has had a major impact on IPAF's ability to develop and promote its industry in other areas. Training revenue now forms the major part of IPAF's turnover. In the early years, the revenue was principally from membership subscriptions.

Even though membership has increased substantially – doubled in the last five years – training income now dwarfs this.

The continually strengthening financial position has given IPAF the resources to expand its promotional activities to run an annual Summit Conference. Focussing on a central topic within the industry, it is attended by and addressed by key members of its own industry, its customers, government departments and standards agencies.

IPAF has also been able to mount high-profile, international awareness campaigns and to expand its advisory, information, insurance and translation services for members.

Corporate identity

With the substantial expansion of activities came the need to ensure that IPAF's complex message remained clear, effective and consistent. With many different graphic elements and motifs, several languages and a broad variety of media being used, the Corporate Identity guidelines covering usage of graphics, tag lines, typefaces, text style and translations presented a challenge in which R&M was able to offer considerable help.

International influence

International promotion has been strengthened with local offices in 7 countries including North America, where a new company AWPT Inc was established to oversee training and develop the huge potential market in the area.

Coordinating the delivery of such broad-based, multi-lingual communications, IPAF appointed Information Officer, Berlinda Nadarajan in July 2005. Based in IPAF’s Swiss office, she is now the main channel of communication with R&M. “Knowing that R&M is always on hand to interpret any of our requirements and quickly turn these into finished copy, visuals and print, really makes my complex task run a great deal more smoothly” says Berlinda.

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