Last month, I attended NAHB’s midyear meeting in Miami and had the pleasure of sitting in on a presentation by Daniel Swift, president and CEO of Des Moines-based architecture group BSB Design.
Pulte Launches Branding Initiative
Pulte Homes has unveiled a new logo to with its national advertising campaign.
|Pulte Homes has introduced a new logo to spearhead its branding initiative. It will appear on everything the company uses in its marketing efforts. Along with the slogan, "Giving Builders a Good Name."
Pulte Homes of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., has just announced a national brand development program designed to make them a household word. The company has unveiled a new logo to go along with a national advertising campaign in hopes of building the same kind of name recognition that brands such as Kleenex and Xerox have enjoyed over the years.
Robert K. Burgess, chairman and CEO of Pulte Corporation (the parent company of Pulte Homes), says "To advance our leadership position and support our ongoing growth, we needed to reinvent our corporate identity and sharpen the messages we send to our employees, customers and supplier partners. Through this initiative we will be communicating one consistent and unified image."
Consumers were introduced to the branding initiative during the 74th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, in which Pulte Homes sponsored a float illustrating the children’s tale of the "Three Little Pigs." The float featured three homes, the one left standing of course being a Pulte home. After the parade the company unveiled two new commercials to back the brand platform. The commercials ran nationally, even in markets where Pulte Homes has no presence, in order to build recognition and help capture part of the relocation market.
"Thanksgiving Day marked the kick-off of our branding effort," says Jim Lesinski, v.p. of marketing for Pulte Homes. "The demographics of the parade audience are spectacular for us, with a huge segment of upper-income and educated viewers."
Pulte Homes’ presence at Macy’s is also the culmination of two other promotions, including the $250,000 Dream Home Sweepstakes, which awarded one winner a home in any of the company’s 400-plus communities.
The home building industry lags behind other industries in building brand awareness, explains Lesinski. Pulte Homes surveyed 1000 homeowners to gauge brand recognition, and found that 60% of homeowners don’t know who built their home, while 35% of homeowners who live in a newly constructed home were unable to identify the builder from which they purchased.
"The way the game has been played up to this point, brand and builder have not been that important," says Lesinski. "We think we can change that. There are some fantastic brand names in other segments of our industry, like Century 21, Andersen Windows, Tyvek, GE and Delta Faucets. There has just never been a strong brand on the builder end of things."
Lesinski says there are several basic reasons for this: a "build it and they will come" mentality; the fragmented nature of the business (even Pulte Homes, which builds in 42 markets across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, has only a 2% market share); the notion that once a home is sold it no longer becomes a source of revenue but a source of cost; and an elongated buying process where people purchase new homes only every five to seven years.
Pulte Homes expects a significant return on its investment in branding. Lesinski predicts approximately two points increase in profit margin and a corresponding increase in market share. Lowered marketing production costs are another benefit, as every piece of Pulte Homes’ promotional material will be consistent, with only a little customization required for each local market.
"People have always been willing to pay a little more for a well-known brand because they got that extra feeling of security," says Lesinski. "Of course you have to bring some substance to that notion to warranty that trust."
To reinforce that notion of security, Pulte Homes’ branding initiative focuses on four core attributes of the company: quality, integrity, innovation and customer involvement in the building process. Lesinski says that a consistent marketing program will go a long way in differentiating Pulte Homes from the homebuilding pack and generate category-leading awareness.
The new branding initiative is expected to be fully implemented in all of Pulte Homes’ communities (except those near closeout) by the end of 2001. This includes everything from billboards and print advertising to community signage and even candy dishes in all sales offices where every candy wrapper bears the new logo.
"This industry is about 10 to 15 years behind most other industries in marketing. We are all going to make some leap-frogging advances to join them, not just play catch-up," says Lesinski. "I predict a major transformation during the next few years in the way new homes are sold."