Vollmer was retained by Norwood, the leading supplier in the $16 billion promotional products industry, to develop and execute a branding campaign that would provide a unified, recognizable image and identity for Norwood and the company’s 31 product lines. Over the past 17 years, Norwood acquired 13 promotional products suppliers. By December 1999, Norwood was comprised of two divisions, 20 locations, 13 subsidiaries, 31 product lines and 6,000 products, all presented under individual brands. Until this time, Norwood served as a silent parent company, with no visible role in the day-to-day operations or marketing of its subsidiaries or product lines. In this business-to-business branding campaign Vollmer developed and executed a new brand identity that successfully unified the organization, building awareness of the Norwood name while leveraging the established product line equity within the client’s time constraint of five months.
The primary challenge of the branding campaign was the short lead time. Vollmer began work in January 2000, with the launch occurring on May 11, 2000. During this brief period, Vollmer conducted research and a branding workshop; developed the brand positioning and strategy; coordinated the development of logos; developed, printed and distributed collateral materials including stationery, signage, media materials, Meeting in a Box materials and letters to distributors.
Formal quantitative research commissioned by Norwood indicated that Norwood’s go-to-market strategy of offering each product line independently was confusing to customers (promotional products distributors) and, while customers had high awareness of many of the 31 product lines individually, they had little or no recognition of the Norwood name. Fifty percent of distributors were unaware of all of the lines offered by Norwood. This research also indicated that customers who currently purchased a Norwood product line would purchase other Norwood product lines. Vollmer conducted primary and secondary research to determine the recommended brand positioning. Primary research consisted of one-on-one interviews with key Norwood executives to assess the company’s presence in the industry and competition, develop Norwood’s SWOT analysis and identify goals for the company. Informal telephone surveys to select distributors and key trade media determined awareness of the Norwood name and the associated product lines. Secondary research, such as reviewing media clips, industry publications and competitor Web sites, was performed to evaluate the industry.
Target audiences: 1) Norwood employees; 2) current and potential Norwood distributors; 3) current and potential Norwood investors; and 4) media that influence the above. Norwood’s 4,100 employees were a primary audience as it was critical that every employee live the brand to ensure the success of the branding campaign. Distributors were also a primary audience, directly impacting sales volume. While Norwood is a privately held company, investors were targeted as they are instrumental in achieving the growth goals of the organization. And lastly, media that influence the above were targeted as one method of communicating with external audiences. Objectives of the branding campaign were: 1) to increase awareness of the Norwood brand and product lines among the target audience; 2) to further position Norwood as the industry leader; 3) to generate sales of Norwood products; and 4) to drive traffic to norwood.com, the company’s e-commerce site.
Based on research, a positioning statement and Brand Promise were developed, “As the industry leader, Norwood will provide distributors with easy, efficient access to the broadest range of innovative products, superior customer service and the business and technology services they need to increase their sales and profits.” Norwood’s Brand Promise became the underlying message for all communication. Simultaneously, Vollmer coordinated the development of a corporate logo that tied Norwood’s 28 product lines (consolidated from 31) to the parent company so as to not diminish the product lines’ brand equity.
Pre-Launch – Vollmer spearheaded a branding workshop with Norwood management to establish key messages and further define the Brand Promise. Vollmer supervised the development, printing and distribution of collateral materials including letterhead, envelopes, corporate Post-It notes, location signage and graphics standards manual.
Launch – To create excitement and ensure maximum impact, a specific date (May 11, 2000) was selected to launch the new corporate identity and strategy. To address Norwood employees, Vollmer developed and distributed a Meeting in a Box, containing a video featuring the CEO. The CEO, facilitated by the Chief Marketing Officer, educated employees at all levels on the new Norwood identity, the importance of branding and Norwood’s commitment to the brand and Brand Promise. The video was distributed in English, Spanish and Closed Captioning to facilitate clear communication with all employees. To produce the video, Vollmer 1) assisted with developing a script; 2) secured vendors; 3) coordinated schedules with video crew, CEO and Chief Marketing Officer; 4) produced visuals for display during video shoot; 5) attended video shoot on location at Norwood headquarters in Austin, Texas; 6) reviewed Closed Caption copy; 7) coordinated review of the Spanish translation and voice over by a Vollmer and Norwood staff members; and 8) edited footage to desired length. Supplemental materials for the Meeting in a Box included an instructional letter to the meeting leader, suggested agenda, overhead transparencies of the new logos and Brand Promise and Q&A sheet to direct group discussion. Materials were distributed in advance, allowing ample time for location leaders to review the materials prior to the meeting. Vollmer produced 4’ x 10’ “Team Norwood” banners for display at each location, reinforcing the unification of the company. At the conclusion of the meetings, every employee at each location received a golf shirt embroidered with the new Norwood logo. Branding messages were further reinforced in June with the launch of Norwood Notes, an newsletter for employees company-wide produced in both English and Spanish. The newsletter masthead incorporated the new logo with all 28 product lines. A column from the CEO reiterated the need to build the Norwood brand and the Brand Promise was referenced as the standard that every employee should strive to attain. As a reminder to employees of their role in the success of the brand, the Brand Promise is prominently featured in each monthly issue of the newsletter. Additionally, Vollmer produced a 5’x 6’ banner noting the Brand Promise for prominent display at the Norwood Growth Center in San Antonio, the company’s training facility.
Materials also were distributed to external audiences (distributors, investors and media) on May 11. Distributors were identified as key or primary accounts based on the size of the account. On May 11, key accounts received via overnight delivery a letter from the CEO outlining the importance of the branding strategy, the impact of the branding on the distributor and Norwood’s commitment to its customers. A golf shirt embroidered with the new Norwood logo also was included in the package. Primary accounts received a similar letter from the CEO via facsimile. Trade media also received via overnight delivery a complete press kit including a company fact sheet, executive bios, press release announcing the new brand strategy, logo slicks of the new Norwood logo as well as product line logos. Press materials were packaged in a presentation folder displaying Norwood’s new identity and accompanied by a golf shirt with the new logo. Upon distribution of media materials, Vollmer aggressively pitched executive interviews with key trade media and trade organizations.
Ongoing – Vollmer continued to support the new brand identity through December. Vollmer supported norwood.com with media relations, research and collateral material development. Vollmer aggressively pitched trade media to create awareness of the new Web site, promoting features and milestones. To gain customer opinion of the site, Vollmer secured and coordinated with a research firm to conduct focus groups in three markets across the U.S. Vollmer also coordinated the development of a 16-page, 4-color booklet, entitled “12 Easy Ways to Increase Your Sales and Profits.” The user-friendly collateral utilized screen shots and concise text to communicate site benefits to distributors. Fifty thousand booklets were printed for distribution via direct mail and trade show attendees.
To support industry trade shows, Vollmer developed and distributed media materials to trade and local market media, coordinated interviews with Norwood spokespersons and pitched media after the shows. Additionally, we developed and distributed direct mail pieces and created mass distribution faxes to drive traffic to Norwood’s booth. Vollmer also provided coordination and support of Norwood’s first Traveling Road Show, a 23-city tour featuring all 28 product lines. Vollmer produced and distributed all collateral materials for the Road Show, including save-the-date postcards; invitations; mass distribution faxes; reminder e-mail notices; program containing product lines, toll free customer service numbers and ASI numbers; and a 30-page coupon book containing valuable discounts and special offers. Additionally, Vollmer coordinated logistical details for the events (including ordering red, white and silver balloons for each location, ensuring a festive atmosphere) as well as developing survey questions to gather Norwood representatives’ feedback in order to better enhance future shows. Vollmer staff also attended shows as requested by Norwood, providing additional customer assistance. The Road Show supported the Brand Promise by providing distributors “easy, efficient access to the broadest range of products.”
Vollmer developed and executed a media relations strategy, pitching marketing, technology, business, online, trade and local market media. Newsworthy topics included new features available on norwood.com, brand introduction, new products, facility and management changes and the use of promotional products as a marketing tool. A print advertising campaign in key trade publications was an integral element to the branding campaign. The ongoing “Thank You Norwood” campaign consisted of two-page, full color spreads featuring Norwood customers supporting the Brand Promise. To execute, Vollmer 1) identified appropriate distributors representing diverse demographics and geographic locations across the country; 2) contacted distributors to request their participation in the campaign; 3) coordinated (and attended on location in some cases) photo shoot with photographer and distributor; 4) reviewed and selected photos; 5) edited copy; and 6) secured placement.
The branding campaign achieved its objectives. 1) Based on a recent benchmarking survey, 79 percent of distributors now report moderate to high awareness of the Norwood name, and recognized an average of 22 of the 28 product lines in the Norwood family. This was achieved in part due to our media relations activities targeting key media outlets. 2) Norwood was named by the trade organization Advertising Specialty Institute as the industry’s leading supplier. 3) Norwood’s inaugural Traveling Road Show attracted more than 5,000 distributors generating additional sales and exceeding Norwood’s expectations for attendance by more than 60 percent. 4) Additionally, Norwood’s one-year-old Web site has secured 11,500 registered users (the universe of distributors is estimated at 19,000) and has received more than 12 million page views.