Is Your Brand Prepared for Market Disruption?


3 Types of Building Material and Product Companies That Are Ripe for Disruption

Established companies have a lot of positives: stability, a solid specifier base, efficient production models, enduring product lines and a sales force with a deep bench. While all of these attributes can make a company feel like it is at the top of its game, it can also be the perfect storm that signals the beginning of the end. In the eyes of architects, designers and contractors, a brand with a deep legacy can start to feel old and outdated. It can also be a signal to an outlier that the market is ripe for disruption.


Meet Nest

In 2010, the market for home thermostats was changed forever. That’s the year Apple engineers Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers formed Nest Labs. When Fadell couldn’t find a decent thermostat for his vacation home, he unwittingly discovered a market ripe for disruption. Fueled by their frustration with the lack of innovation of existing models, Fadell and Rogers looked at the product through the lens of Apple and decided that there was a hole in the market that they could fill. Leveraging their years of engineering beautifully connected products, they gambled on the idea that people would respond to a thermostat that was smart and beautiful. They were right. In 2014 Google acquired Nest Labs for a cool $3.2 billion in CASH. The market leaders at the time—solid, stable companies with efficient product models—were more focused on profits than on meeting the desires of their customers. They’ve been scrambling to keep up ever since. As technology moves at an untenable pace, better funded and connected experts feel confident to jump into industries and disrupt whole markets leaving established companies behind. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and now we shake our heads and wonder how they didn’t see this coming.

It’s easy to judge but far more interesting to try and understand why companies fail to see a perfect storm coming. I see three types of companies that are most vulnerable to disruption: those who are making too much money, those who have a geographic or cultural distance from their sales and marketing teams and family-owned businesses.


Making Too Much Money

It’s hard to believe that making too much money could foreshadow a sudden collapse for a building material or product company. Unfathomable as it sounds, too much profit means that you have perfected your existing production model, tweaked your sales force and sat back to reap the rewards. In short, too much profit can make a company complacent. Once the desire to achieve is no longer there, it’s only a matter of time before someone notices and fills in the gap.


Geographic or Cultural Divide

If there is a distance—physical or mental—between the C-suite and sales and marketing, it’s only a matter of time before sales start declining and market share is eroded. Sometimes the gap is due to the location of HQ, some are abroad or located in a different part of the country with vastly different geographic needs. Sometimes it’s an internal culture clash or a generational divide; in any case, the gap will undermine sales and marketing efforts. Really smart sales people with high performing products can’t do their job properly when corporate doesn’t understand their challenges or are trying to superimpose strategies that work in other countries on this one.


Family Business

Many architectural products and building material companies are family owned or run by leaders who come from a lineage of entrepreneurs. As the company is passed from generation to generation, the new leadership is faced with a myriad of unique challenges. Not only must they grow the company, they feel the pressure to do it at a larger percentage than their predecessor did. In addition, they are facing market disruptors like social media where one specifier’s complaint can be broadcast to thousands of others. Or sales reps with good customer relationships who now need digital campaigns and online nurturing in order to close sales—that’s something the last CEO didn’t have to contend with. They may have also been raised to believe that it is their job to preserve the company by fine-tuning it rather than pushing for innovation. It’s easy to see how change can become equated with risk and that can seem like a bad idea.


It May Be Time for a Rebrand

Industry leaders have become more open to rebranding as a way to keep their company relevant to architects, designers, and other specifiers. Rebranding offers a chance for a company to take a fresh look at their products, services, specification journey and spot opportunities for innovation and growth. If you’re facing one of the following, it may be time for your company to consider a rebrand.

  1. You’ve engaged in a merger or acquisition.

  2. You have a superior product that’s losing market share to inferior competition.

  3. Your brand is old or outdated.

  4. You are entering a new market or engaging a new target.

  5. You are launching a new product line.

  6. The market is changing rapidly.

Once you’ve made the decision to rebrand, you’ve made a commitment to change. Expect pushback from within your company. The number one rule to a successful rebranding is to keep communication open internally with your team and externally with your specifiers.

Every building material and product company lives in a dynamic market. Your competition is changing and developing with the goal of taking over the marketplace. If your brand is old and outdated, your specifiers will start to see your products in the same light. Many high performing products lose market share to inferior competition because their brands have gone stale. What’s vital in a rebrand is that you view it as an evolution—keeping your brand in line with the changing market.


Susan Milne

Want to grow your sales by increasing specifications by architects and designers? Click here to download our guide: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO GETTING SPECIFIED: HOW ARCHITECTS AND INTERIOR DESIGNERS SPECIFY ARCHITECTURAL PRODUCTS AND BUILDING MATERIALS. If you have a question that hasn’t been answered or would like find out more about how Epiphany can help you get specified, give me a call: 804.377.0106.