We are honored to announce that DeSantis Breindel’s work with Quaker Houghton, Thornton Tomasetti, Littler, and Vicinity Energy were recognized at the sixth annual Transform Awards North America. The Transform Awards consistently set a strong benchmark for work in brand development while reflecting the growing significance of brand in strategic corporate communications. The corporate brand—and its implementation, positioning and creativity—has become one of the most valuable assets a business owns. Quaker Houghton and DeSantis Breindel were awarded Silver in the category of “Best Corporate Rebrand Following a Merger or Acquisition,” Thornton Tomasetti and DeSantis Breindel were awarded Bronze in the category of “Best Brand Evolution,” Littler and DeSantis Breindel were Highly Commended in the category of “Best Creative Strategy,” and Vicinity Energy and DeSantis Breindel were Highly Commended in the category of “Best Strategic or Creative Development of a New Brand.”
The awards ceremony, hosted by Andrew Thomas, was held as a special online event in light of the social, travel, and distancing restrictions due to Covid-19. “This is the sixth year that the Transform Awards North America has celebrated the transformative power of brand strategy and design,” says Andrew Thomas, publisher of Transform magazine and founder of the Transform Awards. “Every year it has got bigger, and the work we have celebrated has got better. We’ve seen a challenging year, but the number of entries and especially the calibre of entries has just been fabulous.”
When their merger was announced, Quaker Chemical and Houghton International were both leaders in the special chemicals industry. The newly combined company, renamed Quaker Houghton, came to DeSantis Breindel for help with rebranding as it struggled to translate the merger into a resonate value proposition for clients as well as employees. Our research revealed that what clients most valued was the expertise of the companies’ teams of product specialists. More than vendors, both Quaker and Houghton were seen as partners in ensuring the future success of their global clients.
DeSantis Breindel developed a new brand strategy built around a simple but powerful concept: “Forward Together.” This brand strategy pivoted the company from a products focus to a solutions focus, from features and functionality to experience and expertise. To support this change, the new logo for the merged company suggests two entities coming together—not only Quaker and Houghton but also Quaker Houghton and its clients.
Our synchronized campaign to introduce the new company—and the new brand—to clients and prospects was equally successful. Messaging emphasized that the merger was about adding value, not reducing costs. In particular, the brand manifesto video was lauded by employees and clients alike. The marketplace got the message: post-merger revenue growth has exceeded expectations.
Thornton Tomasetti had established a strong brand in the marketplace as a structural engineering firm. As the organization evolved and expanded its offerings to encompass everything from forensics and disaster preparedness to life sciences, the “structural engineering” story no longer fit. Thornton Tomasetti came to DeSantis Breindel for help with rebranding as it struggled to explain what tied all these practices together while also shaking the entrenched reputation of being “just” a structural engineering firm. With a clear and audacious goal—to be the global driver of change and innovation in the industry—Thornton Tomasetti needed a brand that evolved its story, building on the equity it had established to express not only who it was today, but also what it would deliver on tomorrow, all while celebrating who it had always been.
DeSantis Breindel developed a new brand strategy focused on Thornton Tomasetti’s unique culture of innovators that enables the firm to always say “yes” to challenges that other firms eschewed, helping their clients achieve bold goals. Inspired by this insight, the evolved brand was built around the concept of “Here’s How,” a mindset that sees every challenge as an opportunity to redefine possible. Supporting the brand strategy and messaging was a new visual identity system that revealed the “how” behind the firm’s structures and solutions, and a new immersive website that shared the full Thornton Tomasetti story, well beyond structural engineering.
The evolved brand has been enthusiastically embraced by the company’s leadership and employees alike. Externally, clients embraced the new, broader story of the firm—as evidenced by increased client conversations on, and web traffic towards, the practice areas beyond structural engineering.
Littler came to DeSantis Breindel for help with rebranding as it struggled to articulate the value of its unique innovative practices in the legal industry. A pioneer in more ways than one, much of Littler’s success had come from its willingness to truly invest in innovation in a way that was unusual in the industry. Absent a compelling story, the “Littler difference” was often reduced to its sheer size and scale as the largest labor and employment law firm in the country— important attributes, but not enough to establish a brand in and of itself.
DeSantis Breindel developed a new brand strategy focused on Littler’s unique approach to innovation, and how this approach enhances their ability to surpass client expectations. This strategy was encapsulated in the brand essence, “Fueled by ingenuity, Inspired by you.” The brand emphasized the differentiators that had always defined Littler, but had never been articulated in a clear way—a commitment to innovation not for innovation’s sake, but to meet the ever-changing and hyper-specific needs of their clients. The new brand strategy and messaging was complemented by a new design language that visualized the ingenuity process in a creative way that stands out in the industry.
A French-based multinational organization focused on water and waste management and energy services, came to DeSantis Breindel for help with rebranding after it sold off its North American energy districts to a private equity firm. The new entity, renamed Vicinity Energy, needed to quickly establish a strong and differentiated identity. With the financial backing of a major private equity firm, the company was poised to grow rapidly—provided it could communicate a compelling value proposition to its target audiences.
DeSantis Breindel developed a brand strategy focused on the concept of being the “first call” for organizations for whom energy resilience was paramount. This strategy was encapsulated in a new brand tagline, “Connect with us. Count on us. Thrive alongside us.” The new messaging emphasized human connection, reliability, and the outcomes of the relationship—reliable energy at a lower cost and with a smaller carbon footprint. To support the brand strategy, DeSantis Breindel created a new name for the organization: Vicinity Energy, to emphasize both the highly localized nature of the company’s district energy networks and the close relationship and responsive service customers can expect to receive from Vicinity employees.
The new name and brand have generated significant buzz across the energy industry, including several major news stories about the newly-launched company in leading consumer trade publications. The pace of RFPs is accelerating as word of the company’s new status begins to permeate the marketplace.
The Transform Awards evaluate exemplary work in brand development and acknowledge the growing significance of brand in strategic corporate communications. DeSantis Breindel’s excellence in rebranding and brand development was recognized in a room brimming with industry specialists.