Communities of Distinction: A case study of Tolar Manufacturing Company Inc.

"With Kathy and me leading the marketing team, we developed breakthrough positioning, which was coordinated in all our efforts. The new positioning was launched at the top trade show in our industry and generated 1,500 leads. In fact, other companies approached us to discuss partnerships."

- Patrick Merrick, Tolar Manufacturing Vice President for Sales and Product Development

Background  Tolar designs, manufactures and markets transit shelters, street furniture and displays for transit entities, outdoor advertising companies and lifestyle centers. While they are considered a leader in their industry, the firm's marketing did not communicate a consistent leadership image.

Kathy Cox was the lead strategist at Outsource Marketing for Tolar. Tolar sought Outsource Marketing's help to prepare for the American Public Transportation Association Expo in October. The every-three-years show attracts Tolar's primary target audience, so the company needed to be at the top of its game.

Tolar engaged us to conduct a complete marketing process. After interviews with more than 20 clients, research on the category and competitors, we developed the positioning and tag line. We also examined the company's product lines and helped streamline its portfolio.

New Positioning  We discovered that customers were passionate about Tolar products andfelt that Tolar shelters and displays enhanced their community. So Tolar's differentiation focused on communities:

Tolar is for exceptional communities.

Tolar delivers innovative design to communities and advertisers that aspire to enhance their environment and the experience of their audience.

Tolar's service level and customization abilities are unmatched.

Translation Into Branding  Tolar chose the tagline - Durability with Distinction, which succinctly communicated how its structures survived the elements, while still enabling communities to be distinctive.

With a powerful visual message, the community was the star in Tolar shelters. Surprisingly, no competitors ever showed people in their shelters. The main visual elements in the printed and online communication were cut-out people in Tolar shelters, with the headline - A Perfect Fit: Your community. Our shelters.

We took the community element one step further, by creating Communities of Distinction, whereby Tolar customers could submit photos of their shelters and displays in their own communities. These were featured on the Tolar website and at trade shows.

Implementation  We then coordinated the implementation of the company's branding and fashioned it into a cohesive show message around the theme, Communities of Distinction.

In less than four months, we were able to implement the following tactics:

  • sales sheets for eight product lines
  • a corporate brochure
  • a giant Tolar booth sign
  • a large map and canvas bags with a list of the more than 460 Tolar Communities of Distinction
  • posters for the trade show
  • a slide presentation
  • a completely revamped website
  • pre- and post- show email newsletters
  • trade show directory advertisement
  • email announcements
  • business cards, stationery, folders and identity materials


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