Williams-Pyro, a company well respected for the innovative, high-precision devices it designs and manufactures for the defense and energy industries, wanted a new website. They were already an Aria client, and asked us to create a unified solution to replace the multiple websites they had cobbled together over several hectic years.
Our first impression was that the sites were difficult to navigate, heavy on jargon and acronyms, and seriously out of date.
But as we delved deeper, we began to see these websites not as problems in their own right, but rather as symptoms of a deeper issue. It seemed that in spite of its success, Williams-Pyro, had been so focused on new product development in competition for DoD contracts that it had fallen into brand-confusion of its own making.
For each of the company’s products there was a logo, name, nickname (that didn’t fit), and number—and these they used interchangeably. Many of these products were then nested under other names and logos such that no one on the outside could be sure whether these were product families or company divisions or something else entirely.
Then there was the name of the company. The –Pyro suffix left those unfamiliar with the company to assume that with a name like that this had to be a fireworks firm or blasting cap manufacturer.
Yet, because we had taken the time to get to know owner and founder Della Williams, we realized that there was more to this award-winning company’s come-from-behind success story than meets the eye. So, because of this and with the company’s 50th anniversary imminent, we felt that Williams-Pyro had a bigger opportunity before it than a new website. Much bigger, in fact. And we shared that thinking with the company’s executive staff.
To us, the timing was like the planets were about to align. Williams-Pyro’s 50th anniversary was a hugely impressive milestone, an occasion worthy of celebration and, now too, an opportunity to rebrand. We felt that the company needed a new identity worthy of its longevity and accomplishments as well as the chance to stop talking only about nuts-and-bolts performance metrics and start telling this inspiring story of ingenuity, grit, principle, and perseverance.
The Williams-Pyro team considered our point of view and agreed.
So, what had begun as a request for a new website, had evolved into a scope of work that started with a comprehensive re-name/re-brand/corporate identity—that now would be rolled out for all the world to see at the company’s gala 50th Anniversary celebration.
The results of our discovery process led to adoption of the name WilliamsRDM: Williams for the brand equity in the name and RDM for Research, Development, and Manufacturing. We felt that since R&D is a commonly used and recognized abbreviation in the world of business, the initials would be memorable.
With the name chosen, we began work designing logos, and one that used the letter W for its mark was chosen. Then, we suggested that four different colors be used to differentiate the corporate entity from its three primary product lines: green was chosen for corporate; blue for defense; orange for energy; and red for fire suppression. These colors appear on the rightmost “accent” stroke of three strokes that comprise the W mark in the logo.
Because the company had a reputation for taking on projects many larger companies were capable of doing but too big to bother with we leveraged the concept: “The difference between can and will” the service promise “Williams Will!” was added as icing on the cake.
Because of the timing of the anniversary event, we now had two task lists and timelines running simultaneously: the time-crunched, event-specific deliverables; and the comprehensive branding parts.
Everything that had to be in place in time for the 50th Anniversary celebration took precedence and required collaboration with WilliamsRDM on every detail of the event design, layout, decoration, and programming. It was a push, but the event came off perfectly with U.S. Representative Fort Worth Kay Granger there as keynote speaker and several hundred in attendance. They got to learn the reason for the change, to hear the Williams story, and to see the brand unveiled.
The fleshing out of the brand strategy from corporate identity collateral to the comprehensive web architecture had been created and press releases and letters announcing the name change to the company’s customers and suppliers were done.
We still needed to delivered templates for product sheets and capabilities literature as well as Powerpoint templates the company’s marketing department could populate and update as needed.
Far and away, one of the most rewarding aspects of what we did for WilliamsRDM was the “Rosie” campaign we created for them. Playing off the Rosie the Riveter poster of WWII fame, we were privileged to recount the company story from its beginnings with a husband and wife team in 1973 to a company of nearly one hundred top notch experts in fields today.
At this time, refinement of the websites continues to fulfill the initial design imperatives: that each of the sites be based on the same core architecture; that the Corporate website serve as the template for each of the others; and that the defense, energy, fire-suppression, and Firefighter-Fund websites be cost-effectively implemented and easily updated by the client; and, once the desktop versions were completed, that the sites be fully readied and responsive for mobile.
We encourage you to watch the video—a story about this company and the larger setting that made it possible: the same American exceptionalism, free enterprise, and sleeves-rolled, can-do attitude that made the US a beacon of hope and opportunity to the world.