Brand new

When Joe Steiner saw a headline that read, “Reinvent or die,” the phrase hit him so hard that he went to his top management and proposed that they rebrand the company.

When they were done, the company had a new vision for growth and would soon have a new name — Color Art Integrated Interiors Inc. Steiner, chairman and CEO of the office interiors dealer, walked the company through the rebranding process nearly seven years ago, and the company continues to grow: Color Art posted 2007 revenue of $92 million and anticipates $115 million for 2008.

“You have to constantly reinvent yourself and do things differently in the market, or the competition will either catch up or pass you,” Steiner says.

The rebranding process starts with understanding your clients and the market needs, evaluating your vision and then educating your employees and the marketplace about the changes, he says.

Smart Business spoke with Steiner about how to craft and implement a new brand for your company.

Evaluate your vision.
We go through a process of making sure where we’re going is still in alignment with our vision.

The vision meetings have some structure to them, but we don’t try to limit any thought or input or idea that somebody has because basically, our vision is as broad or as focused as we make it.

We don’t talk anything about numbers or goals or objectives. We just talk about where we want to go as an organization — looking at different ways to grow our business.

If you don’t do something differently, it’s just so hard to grow.

We keep ourselves wide open, and after we come out of the meeting with ideas and thoughts and where we want to go, we put it up on the whiteboard and say, ‘Is this in line with our vision?’

Align your new brand with customer and market needs.
As you look at your core competencies, you have to say, ‘Who is your customer?’ You try to take a look at your core competencies versus what your customer is really asking for.

That requires face-to-face visits with customers. It also requires taking a look at what they do and trying to cater your services around their needs.

I think it needs to be well thought out; that’s why we went out and hired a firm to help us through the process.

We hired a firm, and the firm basically did a marketing study on all the various businesses we were in and took all of our competitors and our strengths and our weaknesses and our threats and our opportunities and kind of brought that back and said, ‘How does the marketplace currently look at us, and ideally, how do we want them to look at us?’

[Ask], who are you? How does the marketplace perceive you? How do you want the marketplace to perceive you? And, if those are different, how are you going to change it?