May. 12th, 2014

The Never-Ending Importance of Strategy, Now Applied to Cleantech.

The clean technology industry is worth $170 billion and counting. But spend that money the wrong way, and it all goes down the low-flow drain. When Mortar started working with Westport, they told us they were a Canadian IP company, citing Dolby as an analogy. In the same way Dolby develops technologies for speaker systems, they said, Westport built the technology behind natural-gas-powered trucks.


But when we took a tour of their Vancouver facilities, we saw this.

That’s a natural gas engine designed for a long-haul truck. Oh, and it’s about the size of a smart car. Imagine this bad boy dangling from a factory ceiling on a thick metal chain, connected by giant wires to giant computers, whirring and humming as engineers test its power and agility. It was like the truck equivalent of a disembodied brain-in-a-jar, hooked up to a life support system.


Eets aliiiiive!!


Westport sure didn’t look like an IP company to us. From our initial observations, it seemed like they needed to focus less on their technology, and more on the human impact their technology drives. It’s a common situation we find our tech clients in, ingredient brands in particular – and cleantech is no different.

And so the Mortar360 process began. Our conversations with customers, partners, prospects, and industry analysts confirmed our suspicions. The same way that Intel was a computer processor company, Westport was absolutely an engine company. And these were no ordinary engines. They were more efficient (read: cheaper), better for the planet, and powered by domestic-fuel – which happened to be exactly what Westport’s early adopter audience was looking for.

Our research also revealed an important market perception. In 2013, Westport’s natural gas engines were already being used in long haul trucks. Yet most of the world was still talking about industrial natural gas vehicles as “the next big thing.” Why? Well, when your friend starts wearing mesh shirts to work, that’s an obvious change. When trucks start running on new engines? Much harder to see. And having an unclear brand message certainly doesn’t help.

Guided by these insights, we crafted a positioning that celebrated the powerful advantages of Westport engines and declared natural gas a thing of the present. The tagline, “Here and Now,” said it all. Add a custom photo shoot, and a stunning brand book and print campaign were born.





And some snazzy print ads, too.




The white balloons are a quiet nod to clean fuel. They represent purity, clarity, and the wonder of discovery. They represent possibilities and potential. They signify how Westport is changing transportation in cities and industries everywhere, helping make the world a cleaner place. We also brought those ideals to life in a brand video that’s been used at events, trade shows, and online.


Visit our case study page to see the brand identity, website, and manifesto ad we also created. We enjoyed helping Westport find its place in the clean transportation world. And now we’re doing the same for CALSTART, a nonprofit that knocks down the political and financial barriers standing in the way of clean transportation. That’s all we can divulge about our adventures in cleantech for now. ‘Til next time.

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