Even established building materials brands — ones with a rich history and strong legacy — can be and should be recharged. External dynamics (competitors, audiences, products, services) are constantly changing. If brands don’t pivot to meet these shifts, their underpinning can be viewed as outdated and irrelevant.
When this stagnation continues for too long, it translates into a loss of position in the market, disloyal customers and, eventually, decreased sales. Operating with a status quo mentality can be the difference between a brand that barely survives and a brand that thrives.
But how do you know when your brand needs a boost? When is the right time to infuse fresh thinking or new approaches?
Brand revitalization is an ongoing process. But for most building materials brands, five common triggers signify the need to begin. Several are connected, but any one on its own is enough reason to start the brand revitalization process. Let’s unpack them individually.
1. Your market share, spec rate, and/or overall sales are flat or down for more than one quarter
When key business measures aren’t moving in the right direction for an extended time, it’s no longer just a blip. It’s now a trend that you cannot ignore.
A brand revitalization mindset pays close attention to factors like market share, spec rate and overall sales. It also lends a critical eye to competitors who are seeing increases in these areas. What have they figured out that your brand hasn’t? A new distribution relationship? An updated pricing strategy? A new product? Or maybe this trend can be attributed to a decrease in the category as a whole? Once the root cause is identified, you’ll know how to adjust your approach.
Brand revitalization in this instance might mean reevaluating how you’ve been communicating your value proposition and then positioning it differently. It might mean moving into new markets and building relationships with different audience segments. Or it might mean a new product launch that addresses dips in the category. In each case, it’s about creating a different experience for your customers — one that is exclusive to your brand and impacts the upward trajectory of your results.
2. You are launching new products or updates that require the market to think about you differently
You don’t need to recreate your core brand each time you launch a new product. In fact, in the majority of cases you shouldn’t. But with any product change you should review your messaging and make necessary adjustments. Then the market will understand the new product, how it relates to your brand, and how it’s relevant to them.
Some examples of product introductions or updates that call for brand revitalization include:
- A new formulation for your flagship product. Enhancements to your current product line are made to restore its competitive advantage. Brand revitalization elevates this new position in your marketing approach.
- Embedding technology into a current product or developing a new technology. Whether it’s designed to increase productivity or drive efficiency, innovative technologies are transforming the building materials industry. It makes sense that any new technology your brand introduces should also include a transformative message. Customers expect a technology launch with a contemporary approach. Brand revitalization will ensure that your technology release delivers.
- An entirely new product. Most new products in the building materials industry are extensions or gap fillers. But there may come a time when you are ready to release a completely new product to the market. If it’s been a while since your last product launch, it’s time to take a critical look at your brand. Understanding what has worked — and what hasn’t — in previous marketing initiatives informs new campaigns and helps you stand out from the competition.
It’s also important to look at industry trends and determine how to position your brand for what’s coming. Even if you don’t have new products launching now, look at what you are doing (and saying) to your customers. As the industry evolves, will your current messages continue to position you as relevant? Brand revitalization will help create a bridge with solid value propositions that position your brand for both today and tomorrow.
3. Your audience focus needs to shift
Your building materials brand might make a proactive choice to shift focus to reach a new audience. Perhaps you’ve never gone direct to your end users with your message. Instead, you’ve relied on the distribution channel to promote the value of your brand. Now, though, you want to build excitement for your product among your end users so they create the demand with the channel.
The approach that you used to promote your product to the channel won’t work for your end user. After all, what’s important to the distribution channel is much different from what’s important to the person using your product. A brand revitalization approach transforms your messaging and the execution to reach this new audience in the best way possible.
Even if you’re not targeting a new audience, you may still need to shift the way you focus on your current audience — especially if you discover that your brand is getting murky. This can happen when more competitors enter the landscape and capture your audience’s attention. Or it can happen when your audience’s day-to-day world changes and their priorities shift (as is the case when we look at a pre- and post-pandemic environment). Brand revitalization will provide clarity by reestablishing your relationship with the audience and elevating your brand’s value.
4. The ownership structure of your brand has changed
One of the most common ownership changes in the building materials space is a shift to private equity. Private equity firms acquire brands to drive higher valuation and growth during a three- to five-year holding period. During that time, they might merge your brand with another investment, infuse your organization with additional capital for improvements, or restructure to propel the next phase.
The strength of your core brand is important here — the private equity firm saw its value and potential. Brand revitalization is your way to drive growth early in the ownership process. It may mean taking a closer look at your manufacturing or distribution processes. Or it may require you to update for messaging for a new audience segment. The goal is to use brand revitalization to speed up the time to execution so results come quickly.
5. No one in your organization describes your company’s products, services, and value in the same way
The previous four triggers have been primarily externally driven. However, brand revitalization is as much internal work as it is execution in the market.
When no one inside your organization describes your products, services, and value proposition the same way, it’s problematic for your brand. This disconnect becomes particularly evident within your sales team. If your brand is reliant on field representatives to move your products into the market, then how your team talks about the brand is even more important.
Your field reps are likely talking about your brand based on what they know to be true. That means some may be using the same scripts they learned when they onboarded years ago. The information you give to your field reps — and to anyone within your organization — should evolve just as it does with your external customers. In fact, it should be directly aligned with what you are saying in the market.
In this instance, the brand revitalization process would consider the creation (or refinement) of your unique value proposition. This single message — one that is strong, relevant and authentic — provides consistency for your brand, but still allows for nuance. This way, when field reps (or others in your organization) are presenting to different audiences (a hospital, an elementary school, a retail establishment, etc), they focus on the core tenants of your brand but can also elevate the value that will resonate most with the audience.
Brand revitalization is an ongoing effort to stay relevant
No matter the circumstance that drives your brand’s need for revitalization — your competition starts telling a better story, customers become less loyal or you’re introducing a major innovation — it starts with being relevant.
Understanding how your audience sees your brand, being clear about your value proposition, and delivering meaningful execution (both messages and visuals) helps your building materials brand better respond to triggers. With brand revitalization, you’ll get to market faster, at a higher premium and with increased value for the organization.