This is a guest post from Megan Kacvinsky is the CEO of Point to Point, an advertising agency focused on revitalizing building materials brands. They use strategy, creativity and over 40 years of industry expertise to develop deeper customer connections, resulting in higher levels of market share, revenue and loyalty.
Megan has graciously agreed to share some of her wisdom on the subject of rebranding, something every company in this rapidly changing industry should be taking seriously.
When was the last time you stepped back and took a good, hard look at your brand? How has your company changed since you last updated it? What are your plans for future growth and does your current branding align with those plans?
In short, is your current brand image supporting you or holding you back?
Consumer product companies know the importance of branding. That’s why they update theirs so frequently.
They understand that a brand is so much more than just the logo you slap on your products. It’s the impression you leave on anyone who interacts with you and your products, even for a few seconds.
That’s powerful stuff.
And with Megan’s advice, you can make sure your company doesn’t lose any of that power.
According to Yahoo!’s Ten Biggest Companies in the Building Materials Industry, the average age of the top building materials brands is 58.9 years old. Only one – Resideo Technologies, a Honeywell spinoff – was founded in the last 10 years.
So what does this mean for you and your brand? It means Building Materials is an industry with a long legacy – aka, it’s old. In general, the longer your business has been around, the more standardized your business practices have become and the more rooted you are in a certain way of doing things. While standardization can help drive efficiency, it can also stifle innovation and creativity. And external market dynamics – competitors, audiences, products, services – are constantly changing, requiring fresh thinking and new approaches.
We typically see five common triggers or pain points that typically drive a Building Materials company to start looking at revitalizing their brand.
1. Your Performance Is Lagging
Your market share, spec rate, or sales are flat to down for more than one quarter. That means it’s a trend, not a blip. It’s not something that can be ignored.
One (or more) of your competitors has figured something out. Could be a new distribution relationship. Could be a pricing play. Could be a new product. Could be any number of factors, but now they’ve got your number and your numbers are down. What has been working prior is working no longer – change is necessary.
2. New Product Launches
You are launching new products that will require the market to think of you differently. Maybe your flagship product has a new formulation that gives it a refreshed competitive advantage. Maybe you are embedding new technology, or have developed new technology, that opens up new markets.
Whatever it is, how the market thinks of you today does not align with the vision for your organization. And it’s marketing’s job to start shifting that perception, as quickly as possible.
3. Your Brand Is All Over the Place
No one in your organization describes your company’s products, services, or value in the same way. This is particularly problematic if it is true for the leadership team of the organization.
If your own organization cannot consistently and clearly communicate the value of your brand, why should you expect anyone else to be able to do the same? And if your value cannot be clearly communicated, see issue #1 above – that drop in performance is going to start happening.
If you aren’t telling your own story your competitors will and it won’t be a good one.
4. You’re Moving to Private Equity
You recently transitioned from privately-held to private-equity. Welcome, you are now officially on the clock for the 3 – 5 year cycle that is private equity ownership. That means your new owners are looking to drive higher levels of value of what they just bought.
Brand revitalization investments for private equity companies are best early in the ownership cycle as a way to drive higher levels of value through the holding period.
5. Your Audience’s Focus Is Shifting
Perhaps you’ve never gone direct to your end users and always relied on the channel. Or maybe it is the channel, you’ve always felt your value was clearly understood but now you are seeing the need to state it more clearly. Other times it may be that you are moving upstream to driving specification.
Regardless of the audience, chances are they have some understanding of your brand and your products but your specific value and benefits to them are a bit murky. This murkiness is exactly what brand revitalization will bring clarity to, lifting your value and your revenue from this audience.
So once you’ve identified a need to revitalize your brand, how do you get started?
You might be thinking this means you need to revisit your logo, marks, color palette or even your name. More often than not, we find the logo, marks, color palette and name aren’t the issue. The root cause issue is the message. Words matter and the ones you have been using are probably feature-driven instead of benefit-driven, don’t speak directly to a customer’s pain point and aren’t differentiated in the market – you are just saying the same thing as everyone else.
When developing revitalized brand messaging, your first step is to look internally at your executive leadership. What can they tell you about the vision for the organization? What are the compelling differentiators in the business strategy? How are they leading the evolution of the company?
Armed with the business background, you need to talk to your customers to find out what they value. What is most important to them? What are their pain points? How would they respond to the revised products, solutions or services you are developing?
These two inputs need to be combined into a centralized internal brand positioning document that is vetted with your executive leadership and sales & marketing stakeholders. This document drives your marketing communications messaging strategy, bringing forward clear, compelling differentiators and reasons to believe at each customer touch point.
Revitalizing your brand is not something that’s going to happen overnight. It is something that takes a coordinated effort over a period of time to shift the marketplace’s view. But done correctly, it will drive a market premium for your products and services for years to come and create multipliers of value back to the organization.