Study: Authentically Own Your Brand

Metal recyclers are often encumbered by the stereotypical images of junkyards and eyesores, of people who get their hands dirty salvaging the junk that others toss aside.

But in reality, these stewards of scrap are diverting thousands of tonnes of recycling from landfills every year. For Industrial Metals, the word ‘no’ is not in their vocabulary—they find a way to recycle anything their customers put on their weigh scale. It’s a dirty job, but when the end result is a cleaner world, they get to work.

Understanding the Challenge

The branding challenge in this case was that while Industrial Metals is a large company with an over 100-year history, they weren’t well-known, particularly beyond the boundaries of their own industry. This is because their brand wasn’t reflective of the size, scale and scope of their business. Industrial Metals serves everyone from large enterprises and small- to medium-sized businesses, to owner-operators, farmers, professional scrappers, site owners, dealers, consolidators and homeowners in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario – a pretty large and diverse target market. 

To succeed in all of these markets, Industrial Metals needed a brand that properly reflected its offerings. And, we had to keep in mind that a company’s brand is not what they say it is — it is what the customer sees it as. We needed to understand how customers viewed Industrial Metals, not just how they viewed themselves. 

Industrial Metals logo in different colours and versions GIF

Finding the Concept

After spending much time with the company owners, we learned that their customers don’t so much buy their service as they buy the personalized experience that Industrial Metals provides. From there, we developed their brand story, which showcased what the metal recycling experience looked like for each customer. It was an authentic position that Industrial Metals could authentically own. 

A significant part of the brand story was to develop a new logo that distinctively spoke to who they were while also acting as a callback to the company’s origin. 

Barbershops have poles, pawnbrokers have three spheres, theatres have masks—and a metal recycler needed its own take on a tried-and-true symbol. 

That symbol turned out to be a re-imagined version of the original symbol for a foundry/factory. That symbol transformed the company into one that wasn’t well-known, into an iconic brand, a brand that resonated with their target market. 

What Happened Next?

The new look was rolled out on merchandise, marketing materials and on a new website. Almost immediately, the company’s ranking on Google improved. Having a brand that is authentic to what they do is motivating their team and drawing new customers to seek them out. 

Marketing Tips for In-House and Agency Teams

How can you best capture the scale and story of your business in a single image?

  1. Your brand should be authentic to what you do. Great brand work is about understanding what you can authentically own and then building a brand around it. A company that is known for its strong sense of customer service and being friendly, can own that; a company that is not, shouldn’t try to force that image. It won’t resonate with customers.

  2. Draw inspiration from unlikely sources. Logos and symbols don’t always need to be innovative and new. Draw inspiration from all around. Sometimes something old can be new again; when a visual identity is done correctly, it looks as if it always belonged.

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