Restructuring brand architecture for global success.
Over time, brand portfolios can become unwieldy. As businesses grow, they may find that what worked in the past in terms of organizing and operating their collection of brands isn’t always the best model for future. Aleron, formerly Superior Group, realized they needed to reevaluate their brand portfolio when prospective customers began confusing their sub-brands, undercutting their ability to win new business. They looked to Block Club for a new brand hierarchy and identity system that would help the organization grow and better differentiate their various service offerings in the marketplace.
Before Aleron became Aleron, they were Superior Group—a workforce and productivity company with thousands of employees in offices around the world. But they weren’t always so large or complex. In 1957, Superior Group was a fledgling drafting firm with a local client base. As demand for their services grew, more talent was required, and a recruiting service business was born. Over the next 60-plus years, additional companies launched under the Superior Group umbrella, each positioned to provide different talent, process, and outsourcing solutions. By the time Superior Group engaged Block Club, they organized their various lines of business under three sub-brands: Superior Talent Resources, Superior Workforce Solutions, and Superior IT Innovations.
Like many growing companies, Superior Group’s years of expansion added new layers of complexity to their brand portfolio. Even with regular portfolio evaluations, Superior Group had a brand confusion problem. Clients, prospects, and even some internal stakeholders had trouble delineating the differences among their sub-brands. This issue was particularly problematic when it came to business development. Potential buyers often didn’t realize that there were distinct companies and business lines. Instead, they tended to lump them together as “Superior Group” and associated them all with talent acquisition. As a result, Superior Workforce Solutions and Superior IT Innovations, neither of which were staffing companies, were often passed over for more recognizable competitors in their respective verticals.
Superior Group needed a strategy that would alleviate the brand confusion and allow the company to grow well into the future.
Superior Group turned to Block Club to evaluate their brand portfolio and create a new brand hierarchy, name, and identity system that clearly delineate their sub-brands, optimizing the company for continued growth.
Before we could arrive at a solution, we had to understand Superior Group’s branded-house portfolio of companies and the distinct needs, challenges, priorities, and values of each sub-brand under their umbrella. To that end, we immersed ourselves in the organization’s operations and culture and absorbed their long-term vision to develop a 360-degree view of the issue. From there, we analyzed the competitive landscape to better understand trends and best practices across the industry. This gave us the perspective we needed to arrive at a new and strategic brand hierarchy, with distinct names, positioning statements, and stories for each sub-brand, and a familied visual identity to bring it all together.
Strategic Brand Hierarchy
As we were working through the project, we devised several potential brand hierarchies. After weighing the pros and cons of each, we recommended replacing the company’s branded-house approach with a clean, cohesive family of brands, which dictates that each sub-brand stands completely on their own. This would compel the sub-brands to adopt new, differentiating names, identities, positioning statements, and brand stories—eliminating the confusion that had previously undermined business development. As a bonus, a family of brands means each distinct sub-brand is insulated in name from any harm that might befall another, safeguarding the health of each brand and the overall health of the company as they grow and assume new risk.
Names That Resonate
Hierarchy in place, we conducted exhaustive research and creative workshops to arrive at a system of highly distinctive names true to the values and attributes of the parent company and each sub-brand. In effect, Superior Group became Aleron, a name inspired by aileron, an aeronautics word indicative of balance and support. Superior Talent Resources became Acara Solutions, an adaptation of the Sanskrit word for form or shape—that is, what Acara offers to people and companies when they pair them through short- and long-term employment opportunities. Superior Workforce Solutions became Broadleaf Results, indicative of both the breadth of services Broadleaf offers and their commitment to seeing both the forest and the trees for their client. Lastly, Superior IT Innovations became Lume Strategies, a name evocative of supportive, knowing, guiding light.
With names established, we set our sights to developing strong positioning statements for Aleron and each of their sub-brands. The positioning statements we arrived at communicate their competitive advantages and differentiators in the marketplace and are used internally to align their distinct value propositions with their marketing efforts. At the same time, the positioning statements are harmonious with one another, ensuring a familial quality to the way each sub-brand is marketed. Today, the positioning statements we developed continue to inform and focus Aleron, Acara, Broadleaf, and Lume’s marketing initiatives and materials.
Captivating Brand Stories
With positioning statements to guide us, we then devised brand stories that narrated the rich identities of each brand. For Aleron, the brand story provides a closer look at the brand’s history, progress, and vision for the future, while charting the company’s smart growth, from a humble small business to a multi-dimensional, dynamic global company. The story frames the rebrand by comparing the new, clean system with the company’s longstanding commitment to helping companies evolve and adapt to changing market forces. For Broadleaf Results, Acara Solutions, and Lume Strategies, we followed suit with stories that weave Aleron’s longstanding commitment to connecting people and businesses with the unique services each sub-brand provides. Together, the brand stories comprise a braided narrative of a full-fledged workforce solutions company.
A Consistent Visual Identity
Once messaging was complete, we created a system of disparate but complementary visual identities to represent Aleron and their sub-brands, complete with brand standards that could be easily applied to any future brand the family might acquire. To family the brands, the system leveraged a uniform typeface with a signature navy blue, creating a clean, sophisticated identity. The typeface was chosen specifically for their unique blend of legibility, noble character, and clean presentation. We then tailored the system to each brand through the creation of unique wordmarks and brandmarks and distinct but complementary color palettes.
Broadleaf’s brandmark mimics an actual broadleaf, connoting the reliable growth and renewal of deciduous trees. Acara’s brandmark is an ultra-minimal, forward mark, inspired by the concepts of balance and stability. Lume’s brandmark references the refraction of light through a prism, conveying the agility, customization, and speed crucial to Lume’s work, while Aleron’s brandmark evokes a functioning aileron, imparting a sense of balance and forward motion. When all of the brandmarks are displayed concurrently, they are distinguishable yet strikingly cohesive, further serving our mission to eliminate brand confusion.