Last month in this space, I reviewed a series of market projections for 2014 from Harvard University as well as the industry’s leading associations.
Selecting a name for a remodeling company can have far-reaching implications.
Selecting a name for a remodeling company can have far-reaching implications. Whether a concept projects a certain image to clients or relies on the family moniker, your company’s name will have a direct effect on how you build a brand and market your company.
When Jeff Fredrickson and John Lafian formed a partnership 14 years ago, they gave serious consideration to the company’s name. In fact, they labored over the decision for more than four months. Both owned companies previously -- Lafian’s company was named Heritage Siding and Window Co., and Fredrickson owned JF Carpentry and Remodeling. As a partnership, they decided to eschew naming the company for an owner, as Fredrickson had with his previous company. They considered "Heritage" and "Cornerstone" as possible names, but after much thought, concluded that "Crown City Construction" was the best fit.
The name rang true on three different levels. First, Lafian and Fredrickson wanted the name to reflect their personal values. "We wanted to run our business in such a way that it would be a reflection of our belief in the Bible," Fredrickson says, "A Crown is symbolic there."
Interestingly enough, Cortland, N.Y., the company’s original location, is surrounded by eight hills and seven valleys, and is nicknamed Crown City. "We also wanted something that people could identify with locally," says Fredrickson. "There’s a lot of ‘Crown’ businesses here for that reason."
Finally, they wanted the business’ name to reflect their commitment to customer service. "We wanted to treat our customers like kings and queens," says Fredrickson. "The crown is symbolic of that. Once we thought of Crown it had so many reasons, the personal reasons, the location that tied in, and of course the philosophy for customer service," says Fredrickson. "It really was a good match for us."
Jeff Brown, owner of J.S. Brown & Co. in Columbus, Ohio, never considered another company name. Brown comes from a large family with strong ties to the area. "Columbus is not as big a town as everybody thinks," says Brown. "People know people."
Name recognition and a known brand were already in place for Brown. His father worked for 40 years at Columbia Gas, inspecting plumbers’ work commercially. "I work with the same plumbers today," says Brown. "They all knew him and respected him." Brown’s brothers also worked in related fields. "I come from a family of eight kids, who are all very entrepreneurial and proud of our name, so that’s why I chose [that name]. Everybody who knows me, knows that I’m not going to do anything to hurt that name. My clients know it, and they hold me accountable to it, and I wouldn’t want anything less. I’m very proud of it."
The company’s future objectives play an important role in name selection and brand building. When Lafian and Fredrickson formed Crown Construction, they wanted to be able to sell the business. "We wanted to create a system where 10 years from now, we could walk away from it and have a shot at somebody buying it and not have it be so tied in with our personal identity," says Fredrickson. The fact the company was a partnership was a big consideration as to why they chose to forgo a personal name. "A lot of companies, when the partner dies or retires, that’s it."
For Brown, his name has become a brand that conveys quality and integrity to customers. "We’re at least among the top five remodelers in the Central Ohio area. You can’t get there and do the volume that we’re doing and do the quality that we’re doing and have it all come down to one guy. We’ve been in business for 22 years. When I hand them a card, often they’ll say, ‘You’re the guy.’ I quickly tell them it’s not me, it’s a team system."
J.S. Brown & Co. is expanding next year beyond Columbus. "It’ll still be called J.S. Brown & Co. It’s going to be less and less a Jeff Brown thing. It has to be. I’m confident that were I to sell this company, I don’t think [my name] would [affect it]."
Changing a name, and subsequently the brand, can be expensive. Four years into their partnership, Lafian and Fredrickson dropped "City" from the company’s name, and the business became Crown Construction. The slight name change occurred for two reasons. First, the logo was too big. "You can only have so big a job sign, and Crown City Construction was just too many letters," says Fredrickson. "It was hard to read." If you’re considering a name change, Fredrickson recommends mocking-up potential names on signage before deciding.
Also, consider the marketing objectives of the brand. In the first four years of business, Crown City Construction’s base expanded. Only 30 to 40 percent of work came from Cortland. "The rest was in Ithaca and other counties. They would ask us, ‘What’s Crown City?’" says Fredrickson.
Now that the name and brand has been fine-tuned, it’s an effective marketing tool. "It opens up a nice dialogue. As we introduce ourselves, it gives us an opportunity to talk about who we are and tell our story."