Brand Refresh for Century Fire Protection
Century Fire Protection was founded in 2000 and is the Southeast’s largest commercial fire protection company. The firm specializes in all things fire protection and safety, from systems design and fabrication to installation to routine inspections and maintenance–they even sell parts. Its national accounts model, Century 360, spreads its service footprint coast to coast, providing comprehensive fire protection services, including consultation and design, fabrication, installation, service and inspections, and education and training for multi-location owners. Dun & Bradstreet reports that Century’s annual revenues in 2019 were $152.26 million.
Smartegies led a branding refresh effort in 2017 for Century. At that time, Century had quickly grown to become the largest fire protection company in the Southeast through an aggressive mergers and acquisitions growth strategy. Century’s plan focused on finding the second and third providers in specific geographic areas, acquiring them, and expanding the Century footprint and family. While the firm was growing exponentially from an operations standpoint, the brand itself was becoming fragmented. Customers were confused, and employees were still doing business as they always had; there was no company unity. As we progressed through the discovery phase of our branding process, we interviewed clients, project partners, and a mix of employees, including Century veterans and newcomers fresh from mergers.
The interview process revealed a unified desire to perform and a passion for fire protection and safety but a gap around the Century way of doing things. After some discussions with Century’s leadership, we advised them to adopt a new company-wide tagline. This tagline would unite and rally the employees but also provide customers with added confidence. Century’s new tagline and brand promise is – Expertise Empowered. The pointed yet straightforward tagline focused on the firm’s two most valued points of differentiation. Century was clearly an expert in fire protection, and no one disputed that fact. Its clients gave raving reviews, and its partners divulged that Century set the industry standard. Understanding that leading with expertise is what Century does naturally, Smartegies chose that specific word for the tagline. The second word, empowered, functioned as both a call-to-action reminder and to cement the declarative statement.
You see, many of the firms that Century acquired had been tightly managed to where all decisions, even small ones or time-sensitive ones, were made by the leadership. This practice served the smaller firms well but created havoc once they joined the Century family. Century’s leadership was being inundated with questions and requests, most of which they felt should be answered by the staff themselves. Leaders didn’t want their employees to stop a project to obtain leadership approval on a $5 part or even a $500 part. Leadership knew that they had hired fire protection experts with a passion for safety and customer care, and they trusted them to act on that expertise and deliver top-notch service to their customers. Leadership wanted their employees to know that they had the power to make decisions.
Leadership announced to Century employees, “We are adopting a new brand promise, Expertise Empowered, which signifies our commitment to hire and train fire protection experts who will take action and are trusted to do their jobs in the most effective manner. “This promise must permeate throughout our company, placing a call to action for our staff to treat every client and every project with the very best customer service, and empower each member of the company to make decisions on their own in order to meet the project goals.”
These two words have made a significant impact on Century’s business. Internally, it has unified its workforce and enhanced its employer brand. It has been fully embraced, and now helps fuel recruitment efforts, mainly because the employees are the firm’s most prominent advocates. Externally, clients are receiving fantastic service and thoughtful solutions to their fire protection needs. Knowing the nature of the industry, Smartegies suspected Century would experience additional growth and wanted to make sure the refreshed brand prevailed. So, we created a mergers and acquisitions playbook to help Century, and the future firms it acquires, plan, and manage the brand transition as the company continues to grow. Since the branding, we have partnered together on some exciting and memorable projects, and we continue to enjoy our partnership today. Among them are a text-to-apply recruitment campaign with highway billboards, a March Madness tradeshow activation, a Black Friday retail campaign for the parts store, and a philanthropy week cam