When it comes to complex historical restoration projects, Baxter Construction  is on the shortlist in Princeton, N.J. Its half-dozen awards  in historical restoration include showcase projects such as the Woodrow Wilson House.

But although there’s plenty to brag about, owner Jim Baxter kept it all low key. A website, lawn signs, and the occasional quarter-page advertisement in a local newsletter filled the company’s pipeline. Then two things happened: the economy slowed, and Baxter joined a peer group.

He soon realized that companies the size of his — $5 million-plus in revenue — spent a lot on marketing. “A light went on,” he says. Baxter contacted Creative Counsel, a Princeton-area marketing company whose owner, Chris Casarona, suggested developing a ground-up plan to re-brand Baxter Construction. That would involve defining the brand, shaping the message, and ultimately getting that message out to the right prospects.

Earlier this year, Creative Counsel spent two months interviewing clients, employees, trade contractors, architects, and engineers. They had high praise for the company’s work and process. The job now is to raise public awareness, to select “the things that leverage that eye candy so other people who want those visceral, emotional things can see them and say: ‘Wow, I want that!’” Casarona says.

Before the end of the year, Creative Counsel will come up with a tag line, redesign the website, and develop materials that Baxter can leave behind in his ongoing networking efforts. The branding and resultant graphic changes “will bear no resemblance to the old Baxter [Construction], in terms of the old graphic identity,” Casarona says. “But everything else will be exactly the same.”

—Jim Cory is editor ofREPLACEMENT CONTRACTOR, a sister publication ofREMODELING.