Three years ago, when Tibma Design/Build, in Needham, Mass., began to focus on design/build work, the owners decided to update the company’s logo to reflect the change.

“In terms of branding, we were not telling the full story of what we could do for our clients,” says operations and marketing director Mary Tibma. “We needed something that portrayed our design capabilities in a more sophisticated way.”

Tibma worked with creative director Patricia Lynn and president Robert Kraay of RT Marketing, a Hickory, N.C., firm that caters to the construction industry, to redesign the logo and come up with a program to highlight the company’s design/build services. They began by defining what message the logo should convey. Tibma wanted it to reflect both creativity and solidity, to be dynamic, and to incorporate more color.

Lynn started with the existing logo. “We didn’t want to change it too much,” she says. The goal: create something that would allow the company to move on to design/build and larger projects, yet build on its existing brand. Lynn kept the serif font for the name “Tibma” and the sans serif font used for “remodeling,” but made “design/build” look more contemporary. She manipulated the “T” to give it the dynamic feel Tibma requested. “The way it is angled gives it a feeling of movement,” Lynn says.

She chose colors that Tibma Design/Build was already using on its website. The “T” design worked out well, she says, because the company has been able to use the single letter to brand materials that can’t accommodate the full logo.

Lynn says that the common use of house or tools themes in some industry logos is not as appropriate for the high-end market. She also cautions against making the logo too complex. “You want something that will work in the variety of places you use the logo, from trucks to shirts.”

Part of the Plan

Tibma says the logo update was a significant investment for the company. “We did our marketing on a shoestring before,” she says, “and we felt that was what our logo conveyed.” RT Marketing helped the remodeler build collateral marketing materials around the new logo. “We do not have a showroom, so it’s important for us to make sure our materials really portray us as a company,” Tibma says. “It is the only tangible way we can express what we do.”

Designer Patricia Lynn discarded the screw image used as the “O” in the companyís original logo because it emphasized the mechanics of construction rather than design.
Designer Patricia Lynn discarded the screw image used as the “O” in the companyís original logo because it emphasized the mechanics of construction rather than design.

The investment paid off because, she says, “It has improved the perception of our professionalism.” She advises other remodelers to be specific about their goals and to build a marketing budget that supports the roll-out of a new image. She says that working with a marketing company that understands the building industry was a bonus, not a necessity. Starting Point

RT Marketing caters exclusively to the building industry. When president Robert Kraay begins working with a company, he asks to review its existing marketing materials, logo, and color schemes. “If they have been around for a while, they [have already] unwittingly creating a brand,” he says, “and we want to reinforce it.” Kraay reviews the materials to see what visuals the company’s customers and potential customers expect and what the company owners like.

However, if the original direction of the marketing materials seems flawed, the consultant tries to more clearly define the remodeling company’s ideal customer. To that end, he asks for information about the remodeler’s target demographic, including gender, income level, profession, and type of work the remodeler wants to sell. “For example, if it’s a conservative or traditional [target] group, you want a logo that reflects that,” he says.

If a company has spent a lot of time developing a brand allegiance with a particular customer group, Kraay says that going in a new direction could alienate that group. If a remodeler wants to do this, then a drastic shift in marketing direction, almost like starting a new company, is acceptable. “The downside is that you are losing everything you have built in previous years. The upside is that you are targeting a new group,” he says, noting that most of his clients do not want to lose their original clients.

“The creation of a logo is a compromise,” Kraay says. “You try to keep the recognizable and distinct elements of the old one but put it in a new context.” He emphasizes that you must assure your original clients that you value their loyalty, but also let them know that, as an expanding company, yours is a business poised to offer them even more services.