When Boise, Idaho–based BMC’s 4,000-plus employees left work on Oct. 8, 2012, everything appeared normal. When they returned the next morning, though, all 87 locations sported a new look. Overnight, the few employees in on the surprise had changed everything that reflected branding—and decorated for a party.
Plans had been under way for months to rebrand and to launch a new website. BMC had decided to use the occasion of its 25th anniversary to launch a marketing campaign built around the new branding and website.
The goal of the new brand is “to sew together the cultures,” says Jeanine Froke, director of field marketing and brand development, “and we felt the effect would be more dramatic if we kept the anniversary party plans a secret.”
BMC grew in part by acquisitions, so the idea of being part of a single organization doesn’t have a long history for all employees. Moreover, the company has had many logos over the years. “The 25th anniversary party was a strategic initiative to teach employees about the brand,” Froke says.
There were balloons and cakes, of course, and each celebration was put together locally. Years-of-service ceremonies were held, presenters from senior management talked about the new branding, and a video featuring CEO Peter Alexander was viewed. Every employee received business cards with the new look—even those who had never had a business card before. “This was our way to show them that every position in the company is vital to BMC’s success,” Froke says, and to let every person take part in the rebranding.
Visually, the new brand is much bolder than the old one, she says, with strong blues and burgundy. It’s highly visible on truck decals, T-shirts, brochures, and presentation folders. All photography is in black and white to create a distinctive look, she adds.
Most important in rebranding is the message, and BMC decided on “Service you can count on: What you need, when you need it, how you want it.” To arrive at that message, BMC conducted focus groups and talked with employees. The goal was “to really understand our people, culture, customers, competitors, and our key differentiators,” Froke says, in order to produce “a message that resonates with our audiences and looks much different than any of our competitors’ messages.”
While many marketing campaigns target only people outside the company, Froke says BMC’s marketing dollars “are better spent on the inside out rather than the outside in. Happy employees are [better] ambassadors” than sponsored race cars or splashy billboards.
The website now shows a representation of all products and all brands, she says. It offers information based on a visitor’s location. For example, contractors on the East Coast would get details from the North Carolina BMC, which specializes in millwork, while those in the Dallas area would get options from several locations in their area that have millwork, lumber, building materials, trusses, and panels.
The total cost was $250,000, which covered research, collateral materials, the website, and the 25th anniversary celebrations. Measuring results of any marketing effort is a challenge, but BMC sees both a growth in revenue and higher employee morale. Sales for 2013 are estimated at $1.3 billion, a 38% increase over 2012.
—Diane Kittower is a freelance writer/editor in Maryland.