Soon after I began my career as Director of Marketing & Communications at NCM Associates in 2014, I noticed some peculiarities that made me want to explore NCM’s brand and history immediately. Our logo color was antique gold, and we rarely used it. Instead, we opted to use the black or white versions. Our secondary color palette boasted muted shades of green and blue. A key design element was abstract filigree. I realized there was a disconnect between our brand and our market strength. Additional research involving clients and employees led to a two-year brand refresh initiative that culminated with the launch of our new website on September 20, 2017.
Looking back, it was truly an enlightening experience. Let me share the Cliff Notes version of our brand journey, and perhaps you’ll want to start your own brand adventure for your business.
Who is NCM Associates?
Understanding our brand strength meant determining who we are to ourselves and to our clients. While this question may appear simple on the surface, when posed to clients and employees, the responses were anything but. During our conversations with employees, we defined ourselves as: dedicated, hard-working, driven, focused, and employee-owners. Then, when we interviewed new and long-time clients, we heard NCM described as: trustworthy, friendly, empowering, inspiring, sincere, and supportive. What differentiated the new from the tenured clients was the historically rich stories scattered throughout NCM’s past. I’ll give you one quick example:
John McCallan of Kearny Pearson Ford was introduced to NCM 20 Groups because his father, Barry, and his business partner, Jess Carraway, joined as members in 1970 when they owned Lakewood Ford in Colorado. Their moderator was Bob Morrow—of Nichols, Campbell, and Morrow fame—one of NCM’s three founders who worked from 1965-1988. John would attend meetings with his father and was introduced to other members and their sons, etc. For John, “20 Groups are part of my DNA.” I found this to be true with many multi-generational NCM clients. Can you imagine the friendships and stories?
And of course, any time we ask our clients for feedback, we can always depend on them to be brutally honest. This is so important, constructive, and exactly what we needed to grow as a company. Not all feedback during our research was positive, and for such instances, we developed an action plan for improvement.
What is NCM’s reason for being?
Existential questions can be so revealing. What is NCM’s purpose? No one’s asked that question at NCM for quite some time, if at all. Do we exist to serve our clients? What about meeting revenue objectives to ensure financial stability for NCM and its employee-owners? How can we make both happy?
While the conversations were admittedly circular, long-winded, and philosophical at times, all participants agreed it was an important and necessary step. The final answer to all these questions, however, was simple and magical: Helping each other succeed every day.
This is our promise to our clients and to one another as employee-owners. With our core values (integrity, service, excellence, humility, and growth) as a foundation, this truly is at the heart of who we are and what we do.
If you have an opportunity to visit NCM’s headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., you’ll be greeted with this same promise as you step off the elevators.
Beginning the transformation process
To address our brand color challenges, we studied color theory and its impact on some of the most powerful logos today, from Ford and Google, to Apple and McDonald's. And because we went through the exercise of defining who we are and our purpose, it didn't take long for us to find the color palette that matched our answers. Today, NCM Associate’s logo features a rich, dark blue which conveys professionalism, integrity, sincerity, and success. Our secondary palette exudes stability, heritage, growth, innovation, energy, and inspiration.
Armed with all the information we've gathered, we began the process of updating our business cards, letterheads, various templates, sales collateral, and introducing it in the marketplace in the form of ads, social media, and content-rich materials. And, as the culmination of many years of work, we launched our new website.
During this time, we also created NCM’s first-ever brand book, a beautiful depiction of our key findings from this brand refresh initiative. We shared this with all associates and it is a key onboarding gift to all new employees.
Our brand journey was truly eye-opening. Whether you’re a first-time entrepreneur or a seasoned business owner, it's important to go through this experience and make any necessary changes. Trust me, it's worth it.
Learn more about NCM's new website and what features we've added by watching this helpful video. Questions about our brand or new website? Give us a call at 800-756-2620 or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.