Revitalize Your Business by Rebranding

Ensuring that your branding is an accurate reflection of your company is vitally important to your success

Revitalize Your Business by Rebranding

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Maintaining a consistent, up-to-date brand is a universal tenet of business. It’s also one that can often be overlooked in service industries. 

At some point, you will probably need to rebrand to revitalize your business. Maybe that will just entail refreshing your restroom inventory with new colors, or maybe you’ll find it’s time for a complete brand overhaul. Here’s a look at how companies just like yours have faced the rebranding challenge successfully.

Why rebrand?

The reasons for rebranding are nearly as varied as branding strategies, and it’s important to understand what a company has to gain from these efforts, as the motivation can often inform the strategy.

Jerry Craft and John Nebus, co-owners of JW Craft Portable Restrooms of Naples, Florida, found their business in decline during the recession, after 31 years of success.

“Jerry and John knew the company needed a face-lift and weren’t sure how to do it,” says Jennifer Corrigan, an industry veteran with experience in marketing and sales.

They brought Corrigan on board as a partner to lead an expansive rebranding, with initiatives like new service trucks, a revamped company logo and an informative website. Other changes included requiring uniforms for route drivers and putting company decals on all four sides of restrooms instead of just one. Thanks to that effort, business stabilized and even increased.

Another common reason to rebrand is adapting to market changes. When Julie Rodgers’ husband Donnie lost a longtime government contract providing more than 500 restrooms to a military base, she decided to view the blow as a new beginning. Drawing on Donnie’s expertise, she focused her energy on booking weddings, proms, parties and other upscale events, leveraging women-centric service to capture a new customer base in the growing event services niche. 

In this industry, buyouts and change in ownership are frequent — sometimes a new owner needs to reverse a negative reputation, and typically the best way to do that is with a face-lift.

John Payne, owner of Waste Now Restrooms & Dumpsters, colloquially “Team Waste Now,” inherited the business by accident. When he rented a warehouse to store equipment for his landscaping business, he discovered 200 portable restrooms on the property would also be at his disposal. After an initial attempt to continue service under the existing name, he received backlash from customers as the reputation of the former business worked against him.

“It was a struggle,” he says. “I had to rebrand.”

It wasn’t as easy as just changing the company name, but rebranding with a focus on fast and reliable service helped him salvage the remnants into a profitable enterprise.

It’s also important to get your new image out in front of potential customers. Outdoor Restrooms Inc. found the perfect way to show off a new company logo when they won a contract to service Kansas City Royals games.

“Our oval logo is everywhere,” says Gary Springer, who co-owns the business with brother Greg. “It’s all about brand recognition; when people see our logo, they know right away who we are.”

Outdoor Restrooms Inc.’s new brand incorporates the Royals’ blue as the company color and builds a theme around servicing the games.

The bottom line: An immense number of eyeballs see the Outdoor Restrooms Inc. logo around the stadium, Springer notes.

Outdoor Restrooms Inc. is now in the second year of the four-year contract, and Springer says the value of such high brand visibility is incalculable. “It opened the door to things,” he says. “You just can’t buy that kind of advertising. Everyone in town loves the team, and I don’t know how you’d go about putting a value on our affiliation with it.”

Of course, high visibility is a double-edged sword. If the Outdoor Restrooms Inc. logo is emblazoned on dirty restrooms, the company’s reputation will suffer. “With that kind of visibility, we have to be as perfect as humanly possible,” Springer says. “With a company logo that’s so prominent, we have to maintain clean bathrooms 100 percent of the time, not just 95 percent of the time,” he says. 

While acknowledging that sets a very high bar, Springer also concedes that sometimes route drivers make mistakes. But he also believes Outdoor Restrooms Inc. will never lose a customer if technicians resolve problems to customers’ satisfaction as quickly as possible.

“In our industry, you never want a customer to call you about service,” he says. “We want to be off their radar — out of sight, out of mind. But if they do call about a service problem, you’re graded on how fast you respond.”

A visual approach

There are many different methods and techniques to rebrand a business, but it really boils down to two things: visual representation and the company’s reputation.

Most rebrands entail a new logo or some other visual change, a signal to the rest of the world that things are going to be different. These can be extensive, including a new name, logo, colors, and vehicles, or they can be as simple as hiring a developer to give your website a more modern look.

For JW Craft, Corrigan redesigned the company logo and developed a separate logo just for the special-events end of the business.

“I wanted a fresh look,” Corrigan says. “I’m a visual person myself. … And I want people to look at the palm tree on the decals and recognize right away that it’s JW Craft.”

A key tool in her marketing arsenal: photos of restrooms, restroom trailers and the new trucks. High-end clientele want to see what they’re getting before signing a contract.

“Driving a beat-up old truck and delivering old restrooms won’t cut it,” she says. “Even in the construction market, customers figure that if you have clean restrooms and clean trucks, you’ll probably keep the restrooms clean.”

The vision is essential to rebranding, but without structural changes, it’s an empty gesture. A brand is more than a name and a logo — it’s the level of service customers come to expect, and the image your employees put out to the public. If a logo is the book cover, employees are the story of your business.

So Corrigan took big steps to build a strong reputation behind the company colors.

“Our industry is not respected because of what we handle and haul,” she says. “I feel that if we go out on a construction site, for example, and have a uniformed, well-groomed employee driving a very nice-looking new truck, it helps our image in the industry. I’m very big on that.”

Corrigan is a staunch proponent of professionalism and raising industry standards. At JW Craft, that emphasis on professionalism extends to everything from employee training to prescribed restroom cleaning procedures, to refusing to decrease rates for customers who request discounts in order to win their business. They follow a strict cleaning regimen that’s posted on the company’s website so even customers know what to expect.

In rebranding to capture a new market, it’s important to build the brand around your customers.

“When weddings are planned, most generally it’s the women doing the calling,” Julie Rodgers says. Capitalizing on all the “girl power” is something she hopes will make Julie’s Johns and its niche focus stand out in a market crowded with portable sanitation choices.

Rodgers’ appreciation for spotless restrooms infuses her entire business. “Cleanliness is huge, and it has to be when you’re dealing with women. If you’re looking at us and you’re looking at somebody else, the difference is cleanliness (of units),” she says. “I expect Julie’s Johns to be as clean as our toilet is at home. I think that’s very important to a woman, especially a bride.”

For Rodgers, creating a new business meant having a strong logo and brand to identify it and its target audience. Her logo, highlighted in red, features a pair of shapely legs topped by a toilet seat.

“I envisioned legs and a toilet, so I started looking on the internet,” she says. “I wanted something that was feminine, sassy and elegant. I think my designer nailed it. I wanted something that would say ‘a woman owns this company.’”

A necessary hurdle

It’s easy for a business owner to become attached to their name, but sometimes a fresh start is necessary.

Change can be especially difficult for small, family-run businesses. The decision can even be an emotional one. But sometimes it needs to be done to reflect changes, even just a change in service offerings. It took Jonathan Powell eight years after adding portable restrooms to change his company’s name to reflect the new reality.

For 40 years, his business had been known as Powell’s Septic Tank, an important link to the legacy of his father and uncle, who started the company. And it was also the company many established customers knew. On the other hand, the name didn’t make any sense to new customers on the portable restroom side of the business.

In fact, some customers, especially for wedding events, were actually put off by the old name.

In 2015, after adding restroom trailers to go after the wedding market and buying out another company that increased his client list and equipment inventory, portable restroom work started accounting for over half his business. At that point, Powell felt it was necessary to change the name.

He came up with the all-encompassing Powell’s Sanitation. His website designer helped create a new logo and his attorney made it official. “We were just trying to brand it more,” Powell says. “To make it sound better.” Customers can still find their old website, and most of them just refer to the company as "Powell’s” anyway, so the transition was fairly smooth and painless.

Whether inheriting a family business or stumbling into a business by accident, the time will come when rebranding must be considered. Hopefully these stories will help guide you in making those important decisions.


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