Brand overhaul from Goodall Integrated Design helps North American knitwear company branch into international markets

Case Study by Derwyn Goodall RGD

 

To gain a foothold in the UK and Chinese markets, leading North American knitwear supplier Cobmex Apparel Inc. required a brand overhaul to help communicate their superior quality through visual branding and strategic positioning. 

 

Background

Cobmex Apparel Inc. is the leading knitwear supplier to both the Corporate and Public Safety Uniform Industries in North America. The company was growing and wanted to penetrate international markets with a new brand that would reflect the superior quality they have become known for in North America. 

 

 

Challenge 

Customers often aren't aware of the unique demands involved in the process of making and supplying sweaters for the uniform market. This is not just a matter of making a retail sweater for the B2B market; it’s a technical product and one of the uniform industry’s most challenging product categories. 

 

Cobmex discovered that the European market was more socially conscious and price driven, seeking 'edgier' design and greater value, whereas core North American customers are typically more driven by quality and service. To address these communication requirements, sustainability and environmental concerns were prioritized within the new brand message. Visually, the new brand look and feel consists of a refined, fashion-forward aesthetic combined with a modern, clean design sensibility.

 

 

 

Design Solution

To convey both the style and the practical benefits of the product, the team established three key goals which informed the creation of the new brand: 

 

1. Distinguish the uniform knitwear category from retail knitwear and establish uniform sweaters as an advanced, technical product requiring specialized capabilities.

It was important to communicate that Cobmex sweaters are technical products that incorporate specialized properties which enable consistently high performance. The brand message needed to emphasize the unique offering of Cobmex Durapil™ and Durapil Ultra™, exclusive yarns which outperform other yarns in strength, durability and softness.

 

2. Present the Cobmex product in the customer’s context by focusing on the needs and demands that a Cobmex product satisfies.

As a leading supplier of quality knitwear to the uniform trade, Cobmex is used by a wide range of corporate and public safety clients: retail and restaurants, police and fire, hospitality and health care, grocery and government agencies, airlines and schools and more. To convey the durability, reliability, comfort and practicality of the product across all different clients, the brand campaign features a series of images showing end-users wearing Cobmex sweaters: a flight attendant, a police officer, a restaurant worker and a USPS employee. 

 

3. Build a brand identity that combines technical ability with retail-type style to establish a program customers and their employees will love. 

We talked at length about the fact that uniform sweaters have to work in various markets and suit the demands of each unique job setting. It was important to communicate Cobmex's commitment to high performance products that best serve their client's needs, which they achieve through rigorous testing and regular client feedback. A series of images show their state-of-the-art sweater production process, close ups of their proprietary yarns, and sweater design details that Cobmex customers demand.

 

The result of these considerations is the new tagline, 'Beautifully Technical', which summarizes the key message of the brand. 

 

 

Brand Touchpoints:

  • Brand strategy and positioning
  • Editorial content
  • Visual mark
  • Graphic standards manual
  • Stationery suite
  • Electronic forms
  • Commissioned photography
  • Marketing brochure
  • Canadian and American product catalogues
  • Exterior signage
  • Trade show booth
  • Website and social media consultation

 

 

Result 

"Choosing Goodall Integrated Design has been one of the best decisions I’ve made with respect to the marketing direction of our company. Our new tagline really sums up what we are about as a company now. Furthermore, we have experienced the very best in world class service, creative design and the ongoing development of our corporate brand.

 

We had the best year in our history in fiscal 2018 (initial year of the re-brand). Many major clients in markets other than North America have chosen us as their nominated knitwear supplier. As a result, many of our end users are now foreign-based, globally recognized brands such as British Airways. In all, the rebrand was a major first step in establishing ourselves as the company that we aspire to be, not the company we were."

-- Phil Newman, Chief Executive Officer

 

Takeaways 

  1. Build a strategic platform first. Do your research and due diligence. Who is the target audience? Who is the competition? Determine what the client’s communication goals are and what makes them unique in the marketplace. 
  2. Understand your client. As a designer, you are paid to solve your client’s problems, so it's important to approach any design project from the client’s perspective. Listen more and talk less. Become a 'design partner' rather than a 'design executor' by helping your client achieve his or her goals and establishing trust every step of the way.
  3. Be accountable. Stuff happens. Own it and fix it quickly if necessary.

 

Credits:

Brand Strategy: MJBraide
Copywriting: Foxman Communications
Photography: Lorne Bridgman

 

Published September 2019