Ready to take on the big boys? Want to expand your line of products or services? If so, take a lesson in rebranding from Arcoa Industries, a San Marcos, California-based manufacturer of litter-removal tools.
In 1996, when Marty Ziegenfuss took over the company her father founded, Arcoa offered one product: the E-Z Reacher, a long-handled pick-up tool that gave impetus to the tagline "Our business is picking up." The company's packaging and marketing materials were produced ad hoc-different agencies handled different components. Says Ziegenfuss, "Our materials had no consistency." Plus, Arcoa's products were introduced on the whims of engineers. The Range Divider, for example, was its only product in the golf industry. Most important, the company's core product, the E-Z Reacher, wasn't being accepted at the "big box" retailers. "With our packaging," explains Ziegenfuss, "we didn't look like a big company."
In 1999, Arcoa hired Project Works, a marketing firm in Escondido, California. Project Works' Leslie Mogul and Rob Mikuteit conducted a positioning study, created new packaging and introduced marketing materials that scream "We're professionals!" The new tagline-"Simplifying everyday chores"-serves as a litmus test. If products don't fit under that umbrella, they aren't introduced. The Range Divider was discontinued, and new products such as the E-Z Pruner and Bigmouth and Dirtbag trash bags were launched.
Today, Arcoa products are sold in Home Depot and Ace Hardware stores, and sales have quadrupled since 1996. The moral of the story? To turn into a big company, sometimes you have to act like one.
Elizabeth J. Goodgold is CEO and chief nuancer of The Nuancing Group, a brand consulting firm in San Diego.