Control Southern, a leading distributor of automation and customized valve solutions for manufacturing plants in the Southeast, contacted HeavyDuty Branding about some core challenges affecting its brand. Due to several key regional acquisitions and pure organic growth, the company had tripled in size in terms of both revenue and employee headcount in just under ten years. Along with enjoying all of this success, the company strove to retain its identity as a family company built on the principle of servant leadership.
The rapid growth caused the organization to experience a drastic change in the culture and many new employees needed ways to become familiar with the operations, the complete product and service offerings, and even the Control Southern brand itself. With its marching orders in place, HeavyDuty Branding set out to rebrand the company from the inside out.
Like any job that enters the HeavyDuty Branding factory, the first step in the process was to conduct heavy research on the subject; in this case it meant heading inside the walls of Control Southern to conduct 30 interviews. In these interviews, employees from top-level executives with 30-plus years of experience to new hires who had been on the job for just a few months were asked pointed questions about both the strengths and weaknesses of the company. The employees’ identities were kept anonymous in order to get unfiltered, unbiased responses.
To get an outside view of what Control Southern’s customers thought about the company, HeavyDuty Branding went right to the source. The team held 20 interviews with different customers across industries that included pulp and paper, power, chemical, pipeline, life sciences, food and beverage, metals and mining, nuclear and OEMs.
On a concurrent path, thorough competitor research was underway. HeavyDuty Branding staff not only gathered information on competitors in the southeastern region where Control Southern distributes, but the team also pulled data from leading distributors across the country as well. An exhaustive list of valve/regulator products, valve product distribution, repair services, engineering services and automation competitors was created—each of these areas of focus aligning with Control Southern’s own business lines.
INDUSTRY REVIEW AND CUSTOMER SEGMENTATION RESEARCH
HeavyDuty Branding took an in-depth look at the key industries in which Control Southern sold its products and services. Focusing on current trends and future projections in the pulp and paper, power, chemical, pipeline, life sciences, food and beverage, metals and mining, nuclear and OEM industries, the team provided a concise report with recommendations on how to move forward within each field. At the same time, the team put together key buyer personas to identify who was buying products and services and why they were buying, as well as which communications resonated.
HeavyDuty Branding examined Control Southern’s logo and made some subtle changes to update its design in order to better reflect the direction the company was heading. It also created a new tagline, “when integrity leads, success follows” to be incorporated in marketing communications.
Since Control Southern had never formally established brand guidelines for how to treat its brand in the market, HeavyDuty Branding created an extensive document which is now used across the organization. The document outlined the rules for design, tone and brand application, and established an iconographical system to visually communicate the company’s six benefits by solution which included automation, engineering, reliability, services, training and valves & instrumentation. With the brand guidelines intact, HeavyDuty quickly updated select internal and external marketing and sales materials. This work involved rewriting, reorganizing and redesigning case studies, line cards, PowerPoint decks, cut sheets, product literature, training materials and other collateral.
The team also helped migrate Control Southern from a complicated, SEO-unfriendly website to a more streamlined, user-friendly web platform. With a focus more on the overall solutions rather than just the products, the content provided a more holistic and complete reflection of the overall company.
INTERNAL BRAND ROLLOUT
To help get the word out about the branding work, the HeavyDuty team launched an internal
awareness campaign complete with a music-themed kickoff meeting. Under this “One Band One Sound” banner, key employees who were designated Brand Ambassadors used customized Brand Ambassador Playbooks to instruct and inform colleagues of Control Southern’s new brand guidelines, review a new product line card and learn from an informative training video.
BUILDING THE SERVICE DESIGN
Service design sets a uniform plan for every consumer interaction or touchpoint within an organization. With Control Southern’s brand guidelines in place, a formal educational process was also applied to create uniformity in actual customer interaction. Employees were given materials with training across a range of touchpoints which included how to answer the phone, on-hold messages, email signatures, social media protocol and even how to interact at a sales conference. This service design plan helped cement the brand into the minds of its customers