North Dakota has aspirations as big as the sky – and is poised to attain them. The state is developing the nation’s first network for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). After an intensive request-for-proposal process, the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, which leads the initiative, selected Greteman Group to create a name, identity, and brand as bold and aspirational as the network itself. Through this process, we have also developed a website, social media strategy, and aggressive outreach campaign.
“We chose Greteman Group as our marketing partner for multiple reasons,” says Nicholas Flom, executive director, Northern Plains UAS Test Site. “Their aviation expertise and experience helped them quickly understand our target markets and how to connect with them. Frankly, their thinking and passion blew us away.”
Simple Name for a Complex Network
The agency built upon North Dakota’s existing prominence as a UAS ecosystem to highlight the competitive advantage of a sky open to UAS commercialization through this first-of-its-kind statewide BVLOS network. The chosen name – Vantis – is an invented word, providing a clean slate to build meaning and the brand. The network provides a vantage point through UAS infrastructure and support with regulatory approvals, industry applications and usability, and a path to commercialization. Vantis serves as a shorthand to market the complex concepts of backhaul data networks and command and control radios to commercial and public UAS operators.
The mark conveys motion and flight. The dramatic, head-on attitude places a strong, centered V directly in your line of sight. The shape and radiating lines of various weights symbolize a rising sun on the horizon, suggesting innovation and birth of a new idea. The clean, stylized wordmark balances and grounds the logo. The exciting brand personality comes to life with a bold burnt-orange and dark-blue color palette, stylized infographics, large four-color photography and an emphasis on UAS in flight.
“Our teams meshed seamlessly, fostering tremendous collaboration even though the pandemic curtailed in-person site visits,” says Sonia Greteman, agency president and creative director. “Virtual workshops helped us develop a shared vision and pull together. The strong outcomes reflect that.”
The virtual UAS Summit & Expo, held Oct. 28-29, served as a platform for the grand unveiling of Vantis. Media outreach, a presentation, social media channels and a website were all coordinated to activate simultaneously the first morning of the convention. Earned media – newspaper, magazine, radio and TV – reached an audience of more than 5 million people for an ad equivalency of $145,000.
The mobile friendly website – VantisUAS.com – serves as a one-stop repository for information, telling the network’s story and promoting its capabilities through clear infographics, compelling visuals and partner testimonials. Strong calls-to-action prompt potential partners, entrepreneurs and users to leverage the network and highlight how Vantis works for North Dakota. Targeted promotion will begin in early 2021.
The Nation’s UAS Epicenter
The uses for UAS are growing exponentially – commercial, agricultural, recreational, scientific. UAS can go where manned aircraft cannot, or would not want, to go.
North Dakota has played a leadership role from the beginning. Its UAS achievements include:
- First public-private UAS business park
- Undergraduate and graduate university programs in UAS studies
- Original FAA-designated UAS test site
- Lead participant in FAA UAS Integration Pilot Program and UAS BEYOND Program
- Extensive research and development to include NASA UAS Traffic Management (UTM) initiatives
- Enabled commercial activities to include BVLOS approval to “climb to 10k” using ground-based radar and criteria-based BVLOS waiver to inspect transmission lines
Over the past decade the North Dakota UAS industry has grown from several dozen workers to more than 1,000, becoming the nation’s UAS central hub. In 2019, its state legislature appropriated a $33 million investment over two years with $28 million dedicated to establishing the nation’s first statewide BVLOS UAS network. The remaining $5 million was allocated toward Grand Sky UAS park infrastructure and Northern Plains UAS Test Site funding.
“Vantis marks a new phase in technological development with no other state investing in UAS at this level,” says Flom. “By essentially creating an interstate road system for UAS, we open up unlimited applications and opportunities for economic development.”