One of the major tasks of our marketing department and probably other modular companies’ marketing departments is creating a favorable image to be associated with the word “modular”.

Two decades ago, maybe more, the word “modular” was associated with prefabricated homes, mobile homes, and portable trailer buildings. The word began to acquire negative connotations. When people thought of modular, they thought of the cheap, quickly thrown together buildings that could be traced to the beginnings of modular construction after WW2. You walk through a building like that and you feel like you are stepping through a cardboard box. It’s no wonder the term began to gather negative connotations.

However, in the past 20 years, modular construction has seen incredible advances in technology and method, where today’s modular building is a completely different species of building altogether.

Modular construction is quickly becoming the new definitive “construction”, and represents an exciting new way of thinking about construction itself. The trouble is, the word still carries those old negative connotations and a lot of people don’t realize what is going on in the industry. This is a problem, considering how energy efficient, waste efficient, flexible, and intuitive modular construction has become. 

People see the modular products that Allied Modular puts out and some of them are genuinely surprised. They marvel at how nice the buildings are and how solid they look and feel.

Realizing the true image and connotations to be associated with today’s meaning of the word “modular” on a mass scale would really usher in the modular method as the new definitive type of construction, and I think that is slowly happening to some extent.

It makes me think of today’s 3D technology in digital entertainment, oddly enough.

But I suppose you can draw the analogy without too much difficulty. 3D technology has been around for a while; I believe they first started showing 3D movies in the 1950’s, and then the technology grew more popular in the 80’s and 90’s, but it was still only limited to a smaller niche then. Finally, the technology caught up with the idea and we see releases such as Avatar that are hugely popular and then the floodgates open and now everything is becoming 3D. We will see more advanced forms of the technology and 3D will become the standard delivery of digital media.

I see a lot similarities with that and modular construction.

An idea will often begin as a gimmick and as technology catches up and the gimmick becomes more and more useful and wholesale, the gimmick can solidify into something useful, and eventually a standard if the idea is powerful and universal enough.

I think modular construction is one of those ideas, an idea that will become a standard.

So we come back to the question of how we deliver the image of modular construction as the new standard of construction into the global consciousness.

Do we do it simply by demonstration? I think that is already underway at this point. Can we help to move it along with a cartoon character? A funny commercial? An icon? I don’t know at this point.

Time will tell, as it always does.