There was a little disappointment at first.

After 37 years operating as Bayada Nurses, company founder and President Mark Baiada stood before members of his nursing staff and relayed the news: The word “nurses” was to be eliminated from the company’s name. As of January 2012, the company would operate as Bayada Home Health Care Inc.

It wasn’t a decision taken lightly by Baiada or his management team. But it was a decision they felt compelled to make.

“My wife is a nurse, we’ve been a nursing company throughout, so to drop ‘nurses’ when it had been in there for so long, I think there was a little disappointment,” Baiada says. “We still have nurses, but it’s not part of our official name now.”

Baiada and his team made the change as part of a wider rebranding initiative, recognizing that the scope of in-home health care services offered by the company had grown beyond nursing to include services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.

The challenge for Baiada and his team was to unify employees in the many different disciplines around the company’s core mission and goals and to ensure that every employee, no matter the occupational field, felt accepted by and engaged with the rebranded organization.

“We created a new logo, with a larger dove icon, to symbolize the Bayada Way, a document which lists our guiding mission and values,” Baiada says.

“But we also wanted it to come to symbolize the extent of our services and the fact that we were doing more than nursing. The culture of excellence that had grown up around our nursing staff — we wanted to be sure our clients associated the same levels of compassion, excellence and reliability with all of our services.

“It was really a case of wanting to be fair to all parties.”

Communicate clearly

Baiada says the initial resistance to losing the word “nurses” in the company’s name was motivated by nostalgia more than anything else. Ultimately, the nursing staff wanted reassurance that the company still valued its nursing heritage and would preserve it alongside the effort to identify the Bayada name with a wider service offering.

Baiada took steps to reassure the nursing staff that the nursing practice would continue to be held in high esteem within the company. But with nurses seeking reassurance over their future role within the company and employees in other disciplines enjoying the recognition implied in the company’s new name, Baiada stepped back.

He surveyed the situation and saw the opportunity to use the rebranding initiative as a means of strengthening the connection between every employee and the mission of the company.

With a properly crafted message, he could renew the sense of purpose throughout the organization, re-energizing the entire workforce, regardless of role or background.

With more than 18,000 employees and operations in 26 states, Baiada encouraged a method of cascading communication that started at the company’s headquarters, eventually reaching all of the organization’s local offices with multiple forms of communication.

“We had a series of meetings, we rolled out a new website to let people know what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, and we also sent out some mailings,” Baiada says. “We had a lot of positives from the communications office, which handled the communication all the way down to the local offices, which then handed things out and supported the local nurses and field staff.

“If we had a meeting with 20 people, we’d have an introduction. If people couldn’t make it, they’d get something in the mail.”

Every move Baiada and his leadership team made had an eye toward rallying the workforce around the guiding company principles of compassion, excellence and reliability. That included altering the outward appearance of all employees by outfitting them with new uniforms. Bayada issued new scrubs to nurses and new uniforms to the other field employees, all bearing the company’s new logo.

“Everyone received new name tags and new uniforms with the new logo,” Baiada says. “It was another way to mark the change and another way to get it out in front of everyone. Almost everyone got something with the new logo on it.”

Ultimately, Baiada wanted to make the change real to everyone in the company. He wanted to immerse everyone in the new Bayada brand. If employees feel connected to the company’s future, they’ll be able to take more of a sense of ownership in the company’s mission and goals, which will strengthen the culture in turn.

“What you have to remember is, Enron had a beautiful mission statement, but they didn’t follow it,” Baiada says. “You need a sense of commitment that what you are putting down on paper and communicating to everyone is something that you are following continuously.

“If you aren’t following it, you don’t have integrity. And you want your people to agree to it, so you want to get a dialogue going and keep it going. What is in your heart also needs to be in their hearts.”

Start a dialogue

Baiada began to facilitate dialogue well before the rebranding initiative took effect.

If you want your employees to own the change, you have to let them buy in to the process.

“We conducted focus groups with our employees and additional focus groups with people outside the company,” Baiada says. “We conducted focus groups with clients and customers at-large and referral sources and also did surveys. What we really tried to determine was the key characteristics that are important.

“What we found was the research reiterated that the Bayada Way was pretty much on target as a set of guiding principles. When people needed help, they wanted compassion and reliability.”

But generating a renewed focus on the company’s guiding principles was only the first step toward fostering employee engagement. Baiada wanted to engage his people on a continuing basis, allowing employees throughout the Bayada organization to have a say in how the company embodies its foundational principles.

The engagement that employees feel in your brand, mission and values will show in the relationships they build with clients and customers.

“Happy employees and satisfied employees make for happier clients, which means we get more business,” Baiada says. “We’ve brought an analytic statistician on staff, and the research shows that when we compare our employee satisfaction, our client satisfaction and our business growth, they are highly correlated. They say it’s hard to find a good tomato, and it’s also hard to find a good nurse or therapist.

“So when we get them, we have to take care of them. We need to focus them, give them a voice, respect and honor them. If you respect them and engage your people, you’ll be able to build a team that can meet your clients’ needs.”

Engagement is about stimulating the thought process within your people. You want your employees to frequently think about the end users of your company’s product or service and how those people benefit from it.

“Knowing the stories of the people you serve helps employees put a human face on the work they do each day, and it also helps spur ideas around the subject of building better customer service.

“A success for us is when a client improves to the point that they don’t need our services anymore,” Baiada says. “We share those kinds of client stories, and we’re continually trying to put them in writing and record them on video. It’s all about getting that message out there, even in ways you might not immediately realize.

“For instance, all the photography on our website is images of actual clients and employees. We don’t use stock photos or actors.”

Though he can’t be everywhere at once, Baiada also recognizes the value of a visible, accessible organizational leader in maintaining a dialogue with employees and reinforcing the mission and values.

“You have to start out with an open door and a willingness to let people in,” he says. “If you have a story to share or an issue to address, here is my phone, here is my email. If you find something isn’t right around here or you feel something is going on that is disconnected from the Bayada Way, let me know.

“Hopefully, you’ll be able go to whoever is in charge of your area first, but if you need to contact me directly, I’m accessible.”

Hire for the culture

Achieving buy-in with existing employees is critical to the success of any effort to rebrand the company or refocus on your cultural values. But every bit as important as your existing employees is the employees you don’t have yet.

The reinforcement or erosion of your cultural values can hinge in large part on the quality of the hires you make and whether those people can align with the foundational principles of your organization.

As the leader of an organization that provides in-home care to clients who might be struggling to overcome disease or disability, Baiada believes his company’s culture of compassion is essential to success and is a critical pass/fail measurement in the hiring process.

Job candidates are presented with Bayada literature emphasizing compassion as a core value alongside operational excellence and reliability.

“We try to be clear in our materials about who we are and what we stand for,” Baiada says. “A lot of people take a job based on what they think it is or isn’t, and when they start working at the job, it’s not the same thing that they expected.

“For example, if a person is working primarily for money, this really isn’t the place for them. If you don’t like working for the clients and serving them, you’re probably not going to like the job.”

To develop a deep understanding of a job candidate’s behavior and thought patterns, you need to put the person in a work situation during the interview. Bayada’s team asks scenario-based questions and tries to uncover real-life examples of on-the-job situations in which the candidate demonstrated an adherence to Bayada’s core values.

Baiada says reliability is often the hardest to gauge, and if there is a hiring mistake to be made, it will often involve hiring a person who otherwise fits the mold of what you’re looking for but has reliability issues.

“Some of our care is on a one-on-one basis, so if someone doesn’t show up to work, we have a crisis on our hands in trying to find a replacement,” Baiada says. “You can get a feeling for compassion based on how someone behaves in the interview process. You can measure excellence in their performance.

“But the reliability factor can be harder to gauge.

“Ultimately, if you’re serving people, you want to find people who are motivated by serving people. That’s one of the biggest keys to continuing to strengthen our culture moving forward. It’s that focus on people. We like helping people, and the job can’t satisfy you if that doesn’t push your buttons.”

How to reach: Bayada Home Health Care Inc., (856) 231-1000 or www.bayada.com

 

The Baiada file

History: Founded Bayada Home Health Care Inc. in 1975 as RN Homecare. The company was subsequently renamed Bayada Nurses, and then rebranded as Bayada Home Health Care on Jan. 17, 2012 — the company’s 37th anniversary.

What is the best business lesson you’ve learned?

It is all about people. It is getting the right people connected and capable of serving our clients, and in making the Bayada Way come true as they carry out their responsibilities. We have a lot of people who make that happen each day.

What traits or skills are essential for a leader?

In our system, you have to be compassionate, excellent and reliable. If you can model that and make that come true, we’ll be in a great position to do what our clients require.

Baiada on keeping an eye open for small-scale factors that can make a big difference to the culture: I am a nut like that, personally. I hope we have enough people here like that, to keep things going forward. I am kind of a stickler for connecting the details to the bigger picture. And that takes constant attention. You are always trying to draw a connection. You’re always asking if everything is coherent and connected, if there are any disconnects. Is there any way we can be doing things better? It is a matter of being attentive, like coach, teacher or chef. You have to be attentive to it all, with an eye for improvement.

Published in Philadelphia

Sage North America was a company in hiding — or at least its name was.

When Pascal Houillon was appointed president and CEO of Sage North America in 2011, the specialty software solutions company was known to the North American marketplace by many different brand names. But “Sage” wasn’t one of them.

Depending on which of Sage’s products or services you used, you might have known Sage by any number of names — and your experience as a customer might have varied greatly from brand to brand.

Houillon, who had led various global regions for parent company Sage Group PLC since 1997, knew Sage North America would never leverage all of its resources and realize its full potential under such a fragmented setup.

“In my vision, I wanted to bring this group of brands together as a singular company with a consistent customer service experience and a consistent way to go to market,” Houillon says. “The flag that I’ve tried to focus everyone on is the Sage flag, the Sage brand. Right after I took this position, we dropped all of the product brands, which we have become known for throughout North America, and merged everything into one master brand called Sage.”

But it wasn’t as simple as a name change for the 3,000 employees working for Sage in the U.S. and Canada. To sow the seeds of change and allow them to take root, Houillon needed to define what the unified Sage brand would embody, the vision for the company moving forward, and then communicate that vision in a manner that would create belief and buy-in across the entire Sage North America footprint.

Houillon recognized from the outset that it would be no small task.

“It’s a big transformation when you’re taking a group of companies with their own specific products and characteristics and merging them together,” he says. “You’re trying to form one company with one common customer service experience.”

Define the brand

As a veteran leader within the Sage organization, Houillon had spearheaded branding initiatives in other countries and regions. Apart from an emphasis on the Sage name itself, the other main component lacking in Sage’s North American branding approach was a focus on customer solutions.

Because Sage had become so fragmented, the company had aligned along product lines. Each segment of the business was driven by the production, promotion and sales of a particular product.

In a commodity-driven business, that approach works. But in the solutions-driven, customer-focused business that Houillon wanted to create, it missed the mark.

“We believe the Sage brand should mean we give our customers the freedom to achieve their visions for their own businesses,” Houillon says. “It is not about software or technology. It is not about the product by itself. Our customers are often small and midsized businesses that don’t have their own IT departments, so the Sage brand has to be a customer brand.

“It is not about promising that we are going to change the world with our technology. It is that we are going to give our customers the means to achieve their own goals and ambitions.”

Houillon and his leadership team pared Sage’s 11 North American business units down to four product lines, all focused on delivering customer solutions instead of promoting and selling a particular product.

“The first line is small business, the second one is midsized business, the third one is our credit card processing line, and the fourth line centers on verticals of a specific area or industry, such as IT solutions in the construction industry,” he says. “That was an important step in moving the focus from products to understanding the needs of our customers.”

Changing the field of play was a critical initial step, because the following steps focused on shifting the mentality of several thousand employees, who had been cultured to sell product, not find solutions.

“In a product-focused organization, you focus on developing your products, and after that, your salespeople focus on selling the product as it is,” Houillon says. “When you move to an organization and a vision that is more focused on marketing and customer solutions, you’re not developing a product and then figuring out how to sell it.

“You’re first analyzing the customer’s needs, then you move into the product development phase. Then you focus on the types of services you’re going to develop around that product. That is why this type of process takes time. We’ve been on this journey for well over a year.”

Manage the process

To help redefine the Sage brand, Houillon needed to redefine his company’s connection to the marketplace in North America. Shortly after Houillon took over, he helped initiate a series of projects aimed at defining a new beginning for the company.

“I asked Sage employees from different levels in the organization to work on different projects, and in the end, we would select the three to six different projects that we would ultimately work on and move forward with,” Houillon says. “In total, about 150 people were involved in the different projects, along with others who gave some inside information about their department to our project teams. It was really incredible how people stepped up and invested their time in these projects.”

Houillon and his management team ultimately selected four projects out of the 11 total projects. Sage North America focused on those projects as the initial steps that would redefine the brand.

By involving employees in the projects and initiatives that would shape the future of the company, Houillon spurred the new Sage brand off the boardroom table and into three-dimensional reality.

For several thousand employees, the idea of a new, unified Sage brand began to move from an abstract concept to something living and breathing. It was a critical step that, in many ways, served as the ignition switch for the entire process, as employees took a sense of ownership in what Sage would become.

“In the beginning, I think you have a lot of nostalgia,” Houillon says. “People are hesitant to drop the name and the brand that they have been working for and possibly have been working for over a long period of time. I’d say, for the first six months, people were excited by the change but also afraid of the change.

“Everybody wants to change, but nobody wants to have to deal with the consequences of the change.”

Houillon realized he needed to give his people an opportunity to express their thoughts and concerns over the elimination of the product brands in favor of a unified Sage brand. He couldn’t minimize how his people felt, but at same time, he couldn’t allow nostalgia and a fear of change to derail progress.

To Houillon, it wasn’t a matter of neutralizing the emotional attachment employees felt toward the old brands. It was a matter of taking that emotional attachment and moving it to the Sage brand.

“People have to have the ability to speak up and express themselves, because it is normal that they’d have an emotional link to the previous brand,” he says. “Having that emotional connection isn’t a bad thing. It’s a matter of viewing that emotional connection in a new way, with a focus on the Sage brand. I wanted to take those emotions and move them to Sage.”

As the initial rebranding projects began to bear fruit, the new, unified Sage brand developed an increasing profile with the company’s customer base. As customer feedback started to filter in, Houillon used it to deepen his employees’ connection to the new brand.

“After a bit of time, the employees start to see that the Sage brand awareness is rising, they see the feedback from customers, and they see that the customers like the change,” Houillon says.

“Previously, customers had to deal with several product brands, and now they’re dealing with a single brand for everything. The customer adapts to it, the employees see that, and they see it is a positive reaction.

“I remember getting some emails from customers who told me it was about time that Sage reorganized under one brand. They were tired of having all these different products with different names. When an employee sees that type of reaction from customers, it is much easier for your people to see the company is moving in the right direction.”

Keep communicating

Once employees started buying in to the concept of a unified Sage brand, Houillon needed to keep the momentum going through his communication strategy. To help strengthen the effort, he hired an internal communication specialist, eventually developing internal communications into a department of three.

The internal communications department has become responsible for developing messages that are initially rolled out at the local level, at each of Sage’s offices throughout North America, and then combined with large-scale communications from Houillon and his team at the North American headquarters.

“In our meetings, every quarter, I will speak, as will some of my colleagues,” Houillon says. “We’ll have about 20 different locations where everybody participates from their own location.

“It was critical for us to change the way we have internal communication, because it used to center on a single product line and now it is more of a global company communication. It is critical for me to explain the vision, explain where we are and ask for feedback from Sage employees. I wanted to be genuine and transparent, because a lot of the time, it is about what people see.”

Houillon also used his communication opportunities to focus people on the value proposition of the Sage brand — in other words, explaining why it is advantageous to customers and, in turn, to Sage to remake Sage as a unified brand.

Sage’s leaders had previously tried to straddle the fence between maintaining the product brands and moving toward a unified brand, but old habits are hard to break.

“About three or four years ago, we had a product called Peachtree, which is accounting software,” Houillon says. “We renamed it to Sage Peachtree, but after a while, everyone just went back to calling it Peachtree.”

The leaders at Sage quickly discovered it was necessary to completely rename the product under the Sage brand, and it was relaunched as “Sage 50.”

“What we have done is to redefine the global value proposition, and by doing that, what we have done is analyze all of the product brand value propositions and move them to a Sage brand value proposition,” Houillon says. “It adds more value to the Sage brand, and it helps us explain how all of our employees play a big role in this new connection and this move to a new brand.

“We want our customers to see excitement about the move. We don’t want them to call up and get a sense of resistance from the employees they encounter. If the customers see a sense of excitement among the employees, they’ll see that the change is a good thing.”

However, Houillon acknowledges that performing a fundamental branding change often means taking a step back to clear the path for a leap forward, and all that you can do as the leader is continually reassure your people that you’re making the right move for the company.

“This isn’t a linear progression,” he says. “Embedding a new vision with employees is a process that will create fear and expectation at the same time. Most of the time, things won’t improve right away. In fact, things will often get worse at the beginning. But things can’t get worse forever, and once you’ve reached that point, you try to build success.

“That’s why you need to be transparent; you need to explain exactly what is going on and what will happen. If you let your people believe that everything is going to be better simply because you’re changing, that is a big mistake. You have to be flexible and pragmatic in a time of transition and let your people know that when things go wrong and mistakes are made, it’s a normal part of the process.”

How to reach: Sage North America, (866) 996-7243 or na.sage.com

 

The Houillon file

Pascal Houillon

President and CEO

Sage North America

Born: Lyon, France

History: Houillon joined Sage in 1989 in sales and held a number of management positions as a regional director and sales director before leading the Sybel business when it was acquired by Sage in 1995. In 1997, he became CEO of Sage France, and in 2005 he also took on responsibility for Sage in Belgium, Brazil, Switzerland, and Morocco.

What is the best business lesson you’ve learned?

Being patient, which is sometimes not one of my qualities, I will say. As a leader, you tend to be very strong-willed, which means not only do you know where you want to go, you can get upset if it’s not exactly the road you want to take. That’s why you need to show some degree of patience with others. You need to be clear about where you’re going, but flexible about the road taken.

What traits or skills are essential for a business leader?

You need to always have a mentality where you’re willing to question the work you have done. You have to be a bit of a paranoiac in that you’re never satisfied with the work you have done, that you’re always looking at your work with a critical eye. You always want to do things better, and that has to be a constant in the way you think.

What is your definition of success?

When our customers say we’ve had an impact on their company. If we can make a positive difference to our customers, at the end of the day that’s success to me.

Published in Orange County

When Mindy Grossman came in as president and CEO of HSN Inc., she was the eighth CEO in 10 years — the company had hit a rut. But she decided to break that cycle by making big changes.

“What we really had to do was redefine the brand for today, unleash the potential of the organization and then build a business strategy, a product strategy and a long-term vision that really came from the core of the brand strategy,” Grossman says of the $3 billion interactive, multichannel retailer headquartered in St Petersburg, Fla.

Smart Business sat down with Grossman at the 2011 Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum to discuss how she implemented change at HSN to revamp the brand in 2006 and engaged employees in the process.

Q: How did you communicate HSN’s revamped message to its employees?

People need to understand not only the functional aspect of what you’re doing but what it means to them, what it means to their ability to be successful, what it means to their job, what it means to their role as an evangelist for the company. So in addition to a two-hour presentation (on our new brand and business strategy), we then … cascaded that through the organization in a very detailed way. We integrated it into all of our performance plans so people could identify what their objectives needed to be against the business and the brand mission.

Q: How did you boil down that message?

At the first level, we rolled out what our vision is going to be, which is really to create almost a distraction on the retail landscape. We changed the paradigm, our mission to bring the joy and excitement of new discoveries every day. And then we identified six pillars around that that we needed to have. … Then behind that, we said here are the three business priorities: grow our active customer base and lifetime value of every customer, expand our gross profit, and what we were calling total quality improvement — our people, our talent, our processes, our execution.

You’ve got to keep communicating that. I think one of the reasons we’ve been able to keep our momentum is they haven’t changed. I think one of the things that companies do is they zig and zag. … You have to have clarity of purpose and you have to make people get passionate behind it.

Q: How did you inspire confidence in the change?

What we needed to do is as we had successes — whether they be small, whether they be large — we communicated them and we celebrated them. So people felt the momentum was beginning, and they could get excited and they could share that excitement. And they have examples of where our changes were working. Because whenever you go into a transformation, once you’ve come out of it and you are building, you sometimes forget the ugly stuff that you had to do. You had to get out of businesses; you had to get out of brands. That first year we had to get out of $150 million worth of businesses that either didn’t fit the brand or warrant quality or weren’t relevant. You’ve got to make those changes and people need to understand why, because unless you can communicate that, they are confused. … Or they are scared; people are scared of change in many cases.

Q: Why did you celebrate success?

We knew that you couldn’t take 24 hours a day of programming, 365 days a year, and change it overnight. But what we did have to do was take some very bold steps.

For example, in beauty, 70 percent of our beauty business was in four brands that were exclusive to HSN, and we didn’t have a diversified portfolio. The company was having a difficult time attracting prestige and boutique brand. … In fashion, we had to get out of almost everything we had except for a few brands that we still have today and have grown. … So we did partnerships with (Sephora and) Scoop. … Fortunately, they worked and they served as catalysts.

So we had to celebrate that, even though in the scheme of things, they were a couple of hours of programming, right? But then you all of a sudden saw your profile go up in the marketplace, in the trade. You are then able to attract other brands and businesses. So those were the type of things that we had to do — communicate while we were doing it, and then come back to the organization and give them a little bit of a report card.

You have to do that (because) not everything is going to work. And you have to be as open and transparent to say to the organization, ‘You know, we tried this. We put a lot behind it, and you know it didn’t achieve our expectations. But here’s what we learned and here’s what we’re going to apply to the next time.’

Q: How do you build a culture that can embrace the failures?

We are a culture of change. We are a culture of strategic risk taking. I like to say, ‘We take risks; we don’t like to commit suicide.’ There’s a difference. We are at a culture of innovation, and if you are going to do that, you’re going to have to take inherently those risks. The thing that you have to do, though, is you can’t talk through two sides of your mouth. You can’t say we want to be this kind of culture and then something doesn’t work and you’re berating somebody for failure.

So we have a lot of dialogue so that when we are going into something that potentially might be defined as a risk, we talk about it. We identify why we’re doing it. We look at what the metrics and what our goal is. And sometimes the goal is less metrics and more impact. And so you go through all of that, and then at the end you do a diagnostic. And the way we approach it is not ‘This didn’t work. Why?’ It’s ‘What have we learned from this experiment, this launch, this … new direction?’ But if we didn’t do that, we wouldn’t have some of our most interesting businesses right now.

How to reach: HSN Inc., (800) 284-5757 or www.hsn.com

Published in Florida

When Ken Kemerer looks at the 80 percent revenue growth SilMix Ohio has achieved since 2001 when it was purchased by Wacker Chemical Corp., he gives a lot of credit to getting involved in industry associations.

Not that it was the only factor ? a rebranding effort three years ago was also part of the mix ? but being an active member of industry groups was a must.

“That’s where the networking is huge,” says Kemerer, director of SilMix Ohio, a manufacturer of custom silicone compounds. “We have added 50 customers since 2009, and we truly believe this branding and networking has resulted in the new customers.”

To get going with industry group networking, you need to research the organizations through universities, libraries or the Internet.

“In the rubber industry for instance, the American Chemical Society is an umbrella group that has a rubber division and a subset for regional and local groups,” Kemerer says. “You want to support financially and technically through manpower and participation all those groups. We support basically all those groups in North America now.”

In terms of support, it means more than paying membership fees.

“You can sponsor their websites, sponsor their fundraising, their golf outings and donate to their scholarship funds,” he says. “The regional groups have technical meetings. You can give technical presentations at their meetings. The technical service is important because other companies may not have an expert on site and you can provide that technical side of the industry.”

The fact that you are at a regional conference giving a presentation and answering questions about your specialty goes far in establishing your brand.

“It’s all about the networking in getting the name out, so that if people are not familiar with your specialty, and they have questions, yours will be the first name they think of,” Kemerer says.

One thing that obviously helps the initiative is encouragement from company ownership.

“Our owner is a corporate citizen, which means we have a responsibility to the industry,” he says.

This attitude should underlie your involvement in the industry groups ? you are not just giving a presentation as a sales pitch for your company.

“The industry groups had been the only place to get knowledge unless you hired somebody who had been trained by somebody else,” Kemerer says. “As the Internet has come along, and online training, they have changed, so the industry groups are really providing networking opportunities on a high level. It’s almost more of an awareness than technical training. These opportunities are out there.”

With your interaction in the industry groups, you are advancing your knowledge throughout the sector.

“There are not that many technical experts out there if you are in a niche,” he says. “Yes, it’s self-serving when you present, you may get your name known as somebody who has the answers, but it is not just about that. It’s also about corporate citizenship.

“There are many opportunities to present new and innovative things if you can in particular areas such as the medical field. That’s on the cutting edge as is helping customers in the industry become aware of new ways to do things or new developments.”

One other fact to keep in mind while attending or presenting at a conference is that your competition may be present, and while it is wise to guard what may be trade secrets, with care, you can still deliver an effective presentation. Don’t use it as a soapbox to show your differentiation.

“We do see competitors, but we see them more on a regional level,” Kemerer says. “We all have the same general purpose products. Some competitors may also be your customers ? so you want to keep good relationships, a good working knowledge and make sure you don’t cross any of them.”

How to reach: SilMix Ohio, a division of Wacker Chemical Corp., (330) 628-5017 or www.wacker.com/silmix

Formula for rebranding

If your company can’t decide where your rebranding should start, do what Ken Kemerer did at SilMix Ohio: look to your “Pillars of Success.”

“We identified our ‘Pillars of Success,’ that’s what we call them ? our customer service, our technical service and our flexibility, and we made them our focus,” says, Kemerer, director of the custom silicone compound manufacturer.

With that simplified mission statement, it gives you a basis to build a branding and marketing effort that will represent your company well.

“We built three different advertising ? let's say modules ? based on those,” he says.

“Identify your pillars of success, and then customize your advertising both visually and verbally along those lines so you can publish it in different media ? magazine, newsletter and website. Have a variety of pictures, so they don't get stale. Use text that describes each pillar of success.”

Then to help support the industry groups, use the same collateral to expand your brand to that outlet as well.

“It worked out real well for us for the past three years, and now it is a good time to have a new angle and still build off the same things ?­ and more as video opens new opportunities,” Kemerer says.

Published in Akron/Canton