Your business has shifted over the last few years. Strong leads are coming from different places. Your company has expanded into different project types and clientele.
These are indications that it may be time for a rebrand. As businesses shift, so should a company’s identity. Erin Dougherty, design coordinator at Distinctive Design / Build / Remodel LLC based out of Charlotte, N.C., shares how she determined the current state of the company was holding her back. [Note: the link goes to the old Website while the new, rebranded Website is being developed.]
Change of pace
After years of contract design and coordination work with Vince Busby’s remodeling firm, Distinctive Building Services, Dougherty was offered a partnership. The attorney who assisted with the firm’s transition to new ownership recommended a switch from sole proprietorship to a limited liability company structure.
“The attorney asked us the name of the company, and it got me thinking about whether our name was speaking to what it is we did,” Dougherty says. It was certainly a convenient time to change the company name, but was the company ready for a whole new identity?
After careful thought, these were top five drivers of the rebranding:
- The former name, Distinctive Building Services, did not clearly represent their services. In fact, Dougherty says this was intentional 15 years ago, when Busby was deciding on a name. Back then, he anticipated changes in the business and didn’t want pigeonhole his company into one category. But now, the vagueness caused confusion. “People thought we cleaned office buildings because other cleaning companies had a similar ‘building services’ name,” Dougherty says.
- The recession stimulated a massive shift in the types of projects the company completed. “The economic crisis drove us to a high-end clientele because they could afford remodeling at the time,” Dougherty says. Not only did Dougherty notice their top clients were doctors, lawyers and executives, but the projects were much larger and complex.
- Starting out initially as a painting contractor, there was a shift in the mid-1990s to commercial and residential general contracting with limited design capability, to the current state of the company, which is a design/build firm specializing in kitchens, baths and additions. “The design side of the company was not flushed out in the first 10 years, but over the last four years, we have provided intense kitchens and baths design,” Dougherty says. The new clientele was attracted to the one-stop-shop services of a design/build firm.
- In the last few years the company went from primarily word-of-mouth leads to an influx of online leads. In the first 10 years, with virtually no advertising, the company was forced to turn down work from so many referrals. But targeting the high-end clientele required stronger online presence, and with it, a stronger company identity. “For so many years, no one recognized the company name or logo—they would tell friends and family ‘to call Vince,’” Dougherty says. With little brand recognition in the first place, the rebranding was their doorway to a whole new world of online prospects.
- The rebranding of the company involved removal of the jack-of-all-trades identity Distinctive Building Services represented. There was also the search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to think about—the company was not popping up in searches related to remodel, design, build, kitchens and baths—even though those were the services they provided. “We wanted to incorporate new keywords that represented our services,” Dougherty says. Hence, the refined name Distinctive Design/Build/Remodel LLC, represents the 15-year reputation Busby built by incorporating similar wording and logo design, however lists the new services they provide.
Strong identity for expansion
The rebranding was well worth the risk. Dougherty can hardly wait to reveal the new identity with the launch of the Website by the end of the year.
Dougherty says that a strong company identity increases flexibility for future growth, namely, in the company’s cabinetry division.
“The cabinetry side of the business was always funneled through the remodeling projects. We never advertised or sold cabinets outside of our remodeling clients,” she says. Now by establishing a core business, Dougherty feels more confident about expanding the cabinetry services under the Distinctive Design / Build / Remodel LLC umbrella.
“There will be changes down the road, but it’s much easier to market yourself when you understand your strengths and your identity—everything else can be an offshoot from there,” Dougherty says. –Morgan Zenner