From the Palace of Versailles to the Dallas Cowboys' stadium to your home’s kitchen, this brand is changing the way you think about your built environment.
Back to the Future
Making a 350-year-old brand relevant as a modern, socially responsible corporate citizen that is solving today’s building challenges
What do you do if you’re a multibillion-dollar corporation, with hundreds of thousands of employees around the world, and no one recognizes your name? This was the challenge once facing Saint-Gobain North America. For the world’s largest building materials company and a Thomson Reuters Top 100 Global Innovator, the answer was simple: it was time to go back to the future.
Three hundred and fifty years of history. Roots that reach from the Palace of Versailles to the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium to your home’s kitchen. They are building scientists, R&D specialists and technology gurus who are changing the way we think about our built environments. With an army of 15,000 employees and 250 locations throughout the United States and Canada, Saint-Gobain is letting North America know its name. From iPad apps and “pop-up” global exhibitions to award-winning community relations, we are executing a dynamic communications strategy that is equal parts public awareness, equal parts sales support. Architecting the story: one audience, one market, one trade show at a time.
Storytelling strategies to engage all audiences
In 2011, with a newly formed external communications team and Brownstein Group (BG) as its public relations agency of record, Saint-Gobain began a concerted effort to raise its corporate profile in North America. BG has developed a public relations strategy that encompasses regional, national and trade media relations, corporate social responsibility initiatives, social media and trade show support.
The plan communicates key messages to architects and building professionals, existing and potential employees in select markets, government officials and other stakeholders, with the overarching goal of becoming a brand of reference.
On Average, Securing 200 Pieces of Earned Media Annually
Moving beyond brand awareness to become a sought-after corporate partner
In an effort to educate young adults about sustainable building, Saint-Gobain launched the “Building Our Future Together” program, a seven-year, $1.3 million partnership with YouthBuild USA. The program includes green home renovation projects in four communities where Saint-Gobain has business concentrations: Akron, Ohio; Worcester, Mass.; Schenectady, N.Y.; and Philadelphia, Pa. BG launched a grassroots campaign in these four markets promoting the importance of energy efficiency and sustainability; demonstrating that green building is attainable for homeowners; and using local media and non-traditional events tied to project milestones to engage target audiences through hands-on participation.
From employee volunteer projects and product installation lessons led by building scientists to groundbreaking and ribbon-cutting celebrations, BG conceptualized and executed 4-5 events in each city – all of which exceeded community/student, employee and local government participation goals. All of the events garnered significant press that, on average, resulted in 15 unique news stories per event, with 95% including key message delivery. Specifically, 73% included a key message directed to “helping cities achieve sustainability goals.”
The “Building Our Future Together” program has been recognized within the public relations field with several honors, including a 2013 PRSA Silver Anvil, a Corporate Social Responsibility award from PR News and five Philadelphia PRSA Pepperpot achievement awards.
In Philadelphia, the partnership with YouthBuild USA garnered so much attention that Saint-Gobain was top of mind for the Mayor’s key education initiative. Saint-Gobain was approached to lead the US2020 initiative, a nationwide program designed to address STEM education challenges by matching youths with mentors in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics professions.
Celebrating globally, storytelling nationally, engaging locally
The company saw yet another opportunity to boost brand awareness by leveraging its 350th anniversary to create a yearlong branding program revolving around a never-before-seen global exhibition called “Future Sensations.” Open to the public and free to visit, “Future Sensations” was an immersive consumer experience with five distinct ephemeral pavilions that took visitors on a sensory journey of science, storytelling and art. The one-of-a-kind exhibition made just four stops across the globe, including Shanghai, China; São Paulo, Brazil; Paris, France; and Philadelphia – the only tour stop in North America and home of Saint-Gobain’s domestic headquarters.
BG ensured the Philadelphia exhibition was highly attended and that media relations activities kick-started a new era for the 350-year-old organization by reintroducing SG as a relevant, modern brand through thoughtful, methodical media outreach.
Words don’t do this project justice; check out the video:
over 10 weeks
visitors over 8 days
of exhibit—8% of
increase in traffic to
of the top referral sources to
company awareness from 18% to 36%
Project Snapshot: Branded Sales App
Developing a dynamic sales module that still embodies the brand narrative
A brand is best expressed through the channels that most successfully move the business forward. For Saint-Gobain, that meant using the brand language to improve the sales process. As a family of companies that encompasses all facets of the built environment, Saint-Gobain aimed to shift its sales approach from a traditional spec-sheet-driven model to one in which the sales team communicated the broader story of the company’s ability to improve lives, solve challenges, increase efficiency and therefore, better cross-sell a wider suite of products. Brownstein Group developed a tablet-based application that armed the sales team with the language and visuals to craft the overarching story while also providing access to specific details at the product level. Unveiled at one of the architectural community’s largest trade shows, this tool has become a staple of the sales process and a centerpiece of the brand story.