After more than 33 years in business, Robert Criner decided it was time to revamp his company’s brand, starting with a name change: Criner Construction became Criner Remodeling. Even though the company’s original tag line, “Remodeling the peninsula since 1977,” alludes to the York, Va., company’s remodeling work, there was a misconception in the market that the company built new homes. “I am blown away by the amount of people who have known me for 20 years who just realized we don’t build new homes,” Criner says. “I should have done this a long time ago.”
Criner planned and budgeted for the $10,000 brand overhaul, which included reworking the company’s name, logo, marketing materials, stationery, website, clothing, signs, banners, and vehicles. He went to the local university and asked the sales and marketing professor there for the name of the institution’s best graduate and then hired her full-time for rebranding.
Having a marketing person in-house provides Criner with more flexibility and control, he says, and meets his need for someone in the office with “a keener sense of marketing” for other tasks as well.
The company’s original 1977 logo used bolts for the C’s in “Criner Construction Co.,” and was later updated and simplified to just three C’s. But for the new brand Criner wanted a modern, more graphic logo. “We looked around, and these types of geometric forms seem to hold the test of time,” he says.
He wanted the logo to be memorable, consistent, and proportioned so it works on a variety of mediums from business cards to vehicles.
Just as before, Criner wanted to establish the company’s longevity in the market with a reference to 1977, the year he established the company. The new tagline, “Personalized kitchens, baths, and additions,” lists the project types the company has always done. “We haven’t changed anything we do,” Criner says. “We’re just doing a better job of telling the story.”
The company launched the new logo at its annual pig roast in September 2010. As Criner made the announcement, his employees left the party and changed into shirts featuring the new logo, and Criner’s brother-in-law drove up in a van sporting the new logo design and featuring a kitchen project photo.
To get the word out, the company sent out a press release, with a photo of the new vans, to local newspapers and magazines and received some press coverage. A direct-mail piece about the rebranding was also sent to clients.
In addition, Criner changed the company’s name on paperwork for vendors, suppliers, and subcontractors, and had to notify his licensing board.
Criner says that the company’s rebranding efforts have caused the phone to ring with remodeling work but, he adds, typical of many companies in this recession, “I wish I could say these calls were for major projects, but a fair number are for smaller projects.” Nevertheless, he points out, “It’s a strategic move made at the right time to give us a boost when we needed one.”
—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.