Sponsor a Student Design Competition

The design competition is a central part of the curriculum in schools of architecture and design. Building product manufacturers can benefit in at least three ways by sponsoring competitions that incorporate their products.
2014 Winner. Design by Jenny Trieu.

A recent example is the Wilsonart Challenge, sponsored by the plastic laminate manufacturer of the same name. The company takes the challenge to a different school each year; this year's competition was at University of Houston. Benefits to the manufacturer include:

1. Great publicity: The award winner got a third of a page write up in at least one major architectural magazine that I know of, plus exposure on the company's blog, website, and the internet at large. The winner was announced at International Contemporary Furniture Fair, and I would not be surprised to see the winning project in Wilsonart's booth at upcoming trade shows.

In a mature product category, a competition is a way to create "news". The brief challenged students to create something that would be attention getting.

2. Fresh ideas about product: Students push the envelope. The questions, experiments, and ideas they generate can be a trove of new techniques and product applications.

3. Build brand loyalty with new generation: The good will generated by the competition rubs off on students beyond the one class participating in the design. From incoming freshmen to recent graduates and faculty, the sponsor's brand is the go-to supplier.

This is a good return on investment for the cost of a scholarship, technical support, and a bit of material.

See press release at http://www.wilsonart.com/corporate/press-room/infinite-wins-10th-annual-wilsonart-chair-design-competition