When one of the world’s leading names in the built environment – Knauf – proposed the acquisition of all Armstrong World Industries’ business outside the Americas, the European Commission intervened.
As both companies were market leaders in modular suspended ceilings, they were concerned that this coming together of giants would impact on competition. Knauf had a rethink and divested the mineral fibre tile side of the business.
In Europe and the rest of the world, this organisation – known as Armstrong Ceiling Solutions – had two distinct operations: one owned by Knauf, the other by Aurelius, a private equity investor. Both were allowed to trade as Armstrong Ceiling Solutions, but for five years only, after which they would need a new brand identity.
With so much at stake, this was undoubtedly one of the construction sector’s most high-profile and complex brand challenges, and the clock was ticking. Keen to start work, the businesses now under the aegis of Aurelius asked Wyatt International to act as their lead strategic agency, having already worked closely with the senior stakeholders and being well acquainted with the brand.
Brand loyalty was at the heart of this challenge. Armstrong dominates the ceilings landscape and has earned the trust of specifiers and contractors. Its products – including Dune eVo and Ultima+ – are often specified on reputation alone. Now, these names were on a five-year countdown. Preparing customers in advance and taking them on the journey would help ensure a seamless transition of brand equity and loyalty.
Our first task was to establish a brand migration strategy. Working closely with the CEO, directors, and Head of Marketing of Armstrong Ceiling Solutions, we laid out a detailed roadmap, incorporating all key milestones and aligning them with actions. This strategy was approved by the Aurelius board.
We then set about building the brand. To do this effectively, we engaged employees in workshops and interviewed customers. We also researched the ceilings marketplace to identify key trends and topics. Using this insight, we then developed a new brand proposition and strategy, together with brand architecture, including a design system to help simplify and explain the transition of brand and product names.
To support this, we created a ‘Brand Axis’ comprising four key elements that help to define the philosophy of the business: value, solutions provider, responsibility, and continuous improvement. Finally, to provide a coherent messaging platform, we articulated a new brand story: ‘reimagine reality’. This focuses on the new company’s trusted history and its commitment to creating a bolder and more agile digital future, where its expertise will help people reimagine interior spaces from beginning to end, concept to completion, A to Z…
This brings us to the new name for the business: Zentia. Alphabetically, Zentia stands at the opposite end of the spectrum to Armstrong, marking a radical departure. Linguistically, it references two important aspects of their ceilings: the peak or a high point above an observer (zenith) and the ability of fibre tiles to create and shape moods and emotions (zen).
In keeping with Zentia’s digital-first mindset, we developed a brand launch toolkit comprising a variety of digital assets, including a brand anthem, interactive brochure, and social content, supported with a fully formed go-to-market plan and channel strategy for each individual marketing territory. These assets were deployed at Zentia’s virtual launch – a key milestone on a long journey of brand transformation.
Initially, Zentia and Armstrong will be positioned alongside each other in a dual-branded approach. Over time, there will be a gradual and phased shift in emphasis, supported by a clear communications plan. So, while this project will ultimately signal the end of one great construction brand, it will also mark the emergence of another from within it – which is exactly what we mean by brand and business transformation.