Chapel Hill-based branding and advertising consultancy Engine Enterprises LLC is celebrating a big milestone this month: its 10-year anniversary. The 10-employee firm has worked on numerous campaigns for clients both in North Carolina and beyond, including Grandfather Mountain, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau, CEP Compression and Bayer Crop Science.
“The Great Recession wasn’t the most obvious time to start a business,” says founding partner Brant Wansley. “But we felt the opportunities were out there, especially since we had deep experience across multiple categories — food and retail, financial services, higher education, health care, high-technology and travel and tourism. We’ve drawn clients from all those areas.”
Wansley, who received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from UNC Chapel Hill and a Master of Arts in marketing/advertising from Michigan State University, worked in Atlanta, New York and Washington, D.C., before relocating to North Carolina to start Engine Enterprises.
He discussed the company in an interview.
How did Engine get started?
I founded Engine with colleagues from my previous ad agency involvements: Rockett Burkhead Winslow, The Catevo Group and MarketSmart Advertising. One of our first clients was Grandfather Mountain, one of the state’s premier tourist attractions, because of our team’s depth of experience in the tourism category including such destinations as Buncombe County Tourism, Pinehurst Resort and Hilton Head Island.
What are the benefits to having a business based in North Carolina? Why did you choose Chapel Hill for the headquarters?
North Carolina is a very pro-business, entrepreneurial state. The Triangle region with its concentration of leading universities provides a vibrant community of intelligent, creative talent. Chapel Hill is a great place for work/life balance. Also, as an alum of the UNC School of Media and Journalism, I have strong ties to Chapel Hill.
How much has Engine grown over the last 10 years?
We have grown from a three-person shop to 10 team members plus digital and public relations partners.
Who are some of your biggest clients?
Bayer Crop Science, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, CEP Compression (Division of Medi-Corp. Inc.), Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau.
What’s been one of your favorite marketing projects?
Translating a German athletic brand [CEP Compression] positioning and communications to the United States with more of an emphatic and democratic direction.
How has marketing changed over the last decade? How do you adapt?
The digital revolution has disrupted the industry but many guiding principles still hold true. Recognizing the importance of bringing humanity to the digital world is the new equation for business. We believe more purpose driven efforts which provide valuable products and services with the greater good will bear fruit. That’s how to really connect with today’s consumer.
Engine has something called “millennial board.” What is that? Why do you have it?
Our millennial board is an on-demand panel of millennial aged consumers who provide feedback to brand positioning, creative ideas and advertising executions to better connect with this large market. That market has become more important to many of our clients. Insights from this group improve effectiveness of communications.