These so-called “Grandpa graphics” are modernized versions of vintage 1940s and 50s images that evoke a bygone era focused on handmade quality and business deals done on a handshake.
What’s old is new for many builders and home improvement
companies, thanks to a trend toward retro branding that has taken hold in the
advertising industry. These “Grandpa graphics” are modernized versions
of vintage 1940s and 50s images that evoke a bygone era focused on handmade
quality and business deals done on a handshake.
That old-school message works well for builders and home improvement firms eager to create a positive persona in the marketplace, says Dan Antonelli, CEO of Graphic D-Signs, an award-winning New Jersey advertising agency that works exclusively with small and mid-sized construction and building businesses across the country. Here, BUILDER talks with Antonelli to find out more about the trend. Click on the slide show above to see a sampling of his retro-style ads.
Why does old-time branding resonate so
strongly with customers of home building and improvement companies?
The service-oriented businesses are usually the ones we recommend consider a retro-themed branding where appropriate, because they’re the closest to that ethos. The iconic imagery of the honest, good-time, American service company was founded on strong relationships, reliability, and person-to-person interaction. Moreover, the success of these past companies was a product of the quality handiwork and extra elbow grease they put in each day. Their reputation depended on it!
With home building and home improvement companies, there is often very little that can be done to stand out from the competition. Price points, services, and guarantees for several different companies may be very similar. The focus on standing out then rests on the little things: their attention to detail, their customer service, their freebies. However, the branding can be a huge point of differentiation, if it can convey those same old school values of trustworthiness and reliability.
Through the careful combination of appropriate context and effective execution, a retro brand can achieve exactly what all great marketing aims for: a memorable, credible, professional experience. It isn’t necessarily an appropriate approach for all businesses, but for those who do fit the bill, a retro-infused brand design can be a true game-changer.
Is there a risk that a company could look
dated with an old-fashioned approach?
While it is becoming more of a trend in recent years, a retro-inspired branding is not the answer for every marketing challenge out there. Part of the reason it works for these HVAC, plumbing, construction, and utility companies is because of the uncanny differentiation it affords. Your particular location, industry, target market, and past experience might warrant a different strategy.
Moreover, the quality of the deliverables and the creative concept all center on choosing the right design team for your project. Just like building a house, the foundation of your brand development is the most important component to building a great brand identity.
right advertising team will be able to help you navigate this process, from
concept to finished design. Make sure to do your own homework and select a
designer or firm based on its portfolio, reputation, and your business network.
The right team will understand not only how to build the initial logo, but
establish how that logo will form the foundation of your brand. Look for those
that can apply that branding consistently across all touchpoints--from trucks
and signs to digital and marketing collateral.
What should builders know before changing their branding?
Before changing your logo, and ultimately your branding, you need to commit to setting the bar higher when it comes to customer service. It’s important to realize that besides changing your logo, you need to start changing the way you think about your company’s presentation. A new logo and new branding are an investment in your company, which will either be used or remain untapped. Make the most out of the changes and ensure that every touchpoint of your marketing encompasses your branding.
Remember: a clear and identifiable brand is critical to a company’s success because it helps you gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Dan Antonelli has more than 20 years of
experience in small business branding and marketing strategy. His team at Graphic D-Signs has won more than
175 design awards since its founding in 1995.