If your building materials brand has been around for a while, it likely has a loyal following and users that span several generations. Even more than that, people know your brand — and they talk about it. And the people they talk to know your brand, too.
It takes time and energy to build that kind of following, so it makes sense that you would want to preserve the essential components of your brand. But how do you balance the need to connect with new customers with the desire to retain the magic of your existing brand?
In today’s world, any one of several scenarios could necessitate the need to revitalize your building materials brand. These include:
- New regulations (EPA, OSHA, etc.) that demand updates to your product
- A new or expanded product line or the launch of a product in a new-to-you category
- A change in the competitive landscape — new companies enter the market or new competitors take the share that was once yours
But the brand work required to stay relevant in today’s market shouldn’t leave your history behind. In fact, it should serve as a catalyst to identify and understand the value of specific brand characteristics and amplify them in a way that not only honors your brand’s past but positions it for the future.
Establish a universal truth for your building materials brand
As a marketer, more often than not, you find yourself focusing on what your building materials brand needs to do differently. But not everything needs to be thrown away to move forward. For legacy brands, it’s just as important to talk about the aspects you don’t want to change.
The qualities that are constant for your brand — and have been since the beginning — are your universal truth. While they may feel intangible, these are the things that make your brand distinct. And they’re likely the same things that have enabled your brand to thrive.
Before beginning any brand revitalization work, spend some time thinking about what already exists: what’s working, why it’s working, and what it means to your business.
While you can (and should) think aspirationally, your brand needs to be rooted in a kernel of truth. If it isn’t, everything will fall. That includes your position in the market. So, start your brand work by completing statements like these:
- We can’t lose … (our commitment to the craft, the trust of our customers, etc.)
- We’ve always been known for … (putting the customer first, innovation, etc.)
- We can’t ever … (take a negative tone, compromise product quality or durability, etc.)
Review your answers to reveal core insights about your brand that should remain intact. Then keep those insights prominent in your brand work.
Find customer stories that connect to your brand’s essence
Customer research helps you understand the ways your product is used in the market. But another important aspect of interviews with customers is the ability to uncover ideas or feelings about your brand. Engage in these conversations early in the brand revitalization process to identify critical attributes that resonate with your existing audience.
A word of caution, though. Resist the urge to make your customers the marketers. One failure of research is relying on your audience to deliver the full idea for your next campaign. Instead, look to your customers for inspiration that you can turn into ideas.
Avoid questions that look for a solution. And don’t ask for the “three to five words that describe your brand.” Take this time to sit down with your customers and “talk shop.” Invite them to share positive (or even negative) experiences with your building materials brand. Let them chatter about the people, the products, or the processes that have shaped the way they view you. This could include interactions with sales reps, visits to retailers that sell your products, or talking to other contractors about their experiences with your brand.
Then, at the end of all your conversations, look for common themes. Ideally, what you learn from these customer stories aligns with and validates your brand’s universal truth.
Look inside your walls to better understand your brand’s legacy
The voice of your customers is important, but it’s equally important that your brand is attuned to the culture and personality inside your organization.
When customers describe your brand, they’re essentially describing the people. The employees of your company bring as much value — arguably, even more — to your building materials brand as the entity on paper.
The true acid test of your brand’s staying power is whether your internal audience believes in it as much as anyone else. Employees will be your biggest evangelists (or biggest critics), so their input on updates to your brand is paramount to your ongoing success.
Involve a cross-section of employees on the team before you launch any new brand efforts in the market. Individuals who have worked closely with customers over the years or have tenure within your organization can provide valuable insight during the homework phase of brand revitalization.
Then, once you’ve started the research phase, leverage people in key roles to validate your brand’s universal truth. Ask employees the same types of experience-focused questions that you ask customers. This will help uncover a unifying thread that connects your brand from yesterday to today — and further confirm what makes you unique.
Your building materials brand is worth preserving
Your building materials brand is defined by what you’re capable of, the culture of the organization, and where you’re going. There will be people who agree and those who disagree. But, ultimately, you should remain true to who you are.
Abandoning the aspects that are core to your legacy brand forces your audience (both internal and external) to think about your brand differently. If there was already a strong connection, they might be losing something that has significant meaning to them. That means your brand will lose as well — loyalty, market share, and revenue.
But brand work doesn’t need to replace who or what you are to employees, customers, and the market. Instead, it can reemphasize what makes your building materials brand great and provide the platform to more assertively tell your story.