"We need to do some marketing."

That was the request of Matt and Gregg van Beber, owner's of MSI, a 50 person, manufacturer of durable product labels. After more than 30 years of organic, sales based growth, MSI realized the business had reached a plateau. While the manufacturing of durable product labels was still going strong (despite a recession the tech area, a significant source of business for MSI), growing the business to the next level meant shifting from a sales-based strategy of finding customers to a marketing-based strategy aimed at attracting new customers.

After some initial conversations, Bright Corner realized there was a lot more that needed to be learned about MSI's customers (and the business!) before we produced-or even recommended producing-any marketing materials.

The Research Process

Following an initial kick-off meeting with the sales team and other stakeholders in the company, we began contacting MSI customers for a frank perspective-on trends in the manufacturing industry, vendor relations, their day to day activities, personal experiences working with MSI, and any other relevant bits of information. From short phone conversations to long lunch interviews, and even tours of various manufacturing facilities, we documented information critical to later marketing efforts.

Next, we explored the scenario of a customer needing to find, select, and work with a label vendor. To inform this process (and understand firsthand the experience of working with a label vendor), we contacted a number of competitors and even-without their knowledge- our client, MSI. We then used the steps in this process as the framework by which to structure and report our findings.

This mix of inquiry and observation produced not only valuable research , but also a natural by-product-insights and ideas. The 'insights' included customer feedback made possible by our role as an independent group, and ranged from what types of direct mail actually work to ideas for referral programs. We also created more than a hundred ideas to improve the customer experience. So many ideas in fact, that we created an icon-based, labeling system to comment on how each experience might fit into a larger strategy.

These ideas included everything from the basics (improved identity materials and sales collateral) to creative marketing ideas such as a mailing out blank package labels at Christmas time for their customers. We also took traditional marketing tactics, such as the common direct mail postcard, and proposed more experiential, interactive concepts that engaged recipients with the subtle importance of durable product labels.

A new identity

During the research process, we uncovered a sharp disconnect between how the identity they had in place and how the company was - and wanted to be-perceived.

To resolve this disconnect, Bright Corner created a fresh, modern look to define them as an organization, differentiate them among the competition, and have an immediate and arresting impact, particularly amongst other small-to-medium sized OEMs who have traditionally made little or no investment in design.

Because so many label vendors offer a parity product or service, it was even more important that the design articulate MSI's competitive (although subtle) differentiator.: an authentic concern for the customer, and a commitment to simplify the lives of their customers.

The flexible identity system we designed for MSI not only articulates these values, but has been extremely well-received-even winning a Silver Medal at the DSVC 45th Annual Dallas Show. And, to our delight, we've observed a noticeable change in how the company is perceived by new customers.

What else has happened since…

Since its introduction to Bright Corner, MSI has experienced a significant upturn in its business despite an industry-wide recession.

Specifically, we've…

  • created a strong visual identity that differentiates MSI in the marketplace.
  • Redesigned printed (and virtual) materials around this new and consistent visual identity
  • created a comprehensive sales kit that addresses common sales related needs
  • raised internal awareness of design as a value added differentiator
  • created a sales and marketing strategy built around desirable customer experiences
  • created a strong brand position from which to create meaningful and engaging marketing experiences
  • created promotions and giveaways that MSI is unable to produce enough of, due to their demand
  • improved the business value of the MSI corporate web site

How has MSI changed internally? Immediately following the presentation of our research, MSI restructured their sales team to support a better customer experience.

Last word

And the highest compliment we've received? We were asked to partner with MSI in a new venture that would combine our creative ideas with their production capabilities.


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