Bridging to Change

Change can be an intimidating prospect to a company, but not to Valspar, it is their mantra.  As a 200-year-old paint manufacturer, Valspar is looking to turn the conversation from paint to change.  At BrandSmart 2015, Heidi Petz, Vice President of Marketing at Valspar, discussed the key steps involved in evolving an established brand within the marketplace and keeping its message relevant.

Valspar’s mission envisions change as the cornerstone of the human experience. So where do you start?  According to Petz, you “start with the end in mind and know where you are starting from.”  Envision a bridge with your brand destination on the other side.  Every step along the way needs to be solid, relevant and lead toward your ultimate goal.  With Valspar, that goal is to be the #1 paint brand at the forefront of consumers’ purchase decisions.

Step #1 on the bridge toward change is to understand the inflection points that have defined your brand thus far and anticipate the next one.  Or next two for that matter.  Always be two steps ahead.  With Valspar, they have been a stalwart brand in the paint category.  In order to be #1, they are taking the emphasis off of paint to speak to color instead.  And once they change that message, they plan to transition to the topic of fashion.

Step #2 is to ready yourself.  The number one person to push your agenda and gain support is YOU.  And the best way to build support is by being enthusiastic about your goals.

Step #3 is to build support.  This is done by repeating the message to your team and key supporters and getting them excited about the change at hand.

Step #4 is to walk the walk.  In order to successfully change your message, you need to integrate it into every branding touch point and to remember to be consistent.  Valspar is doing this in many ways, including their color guarantee, which allows customers the ability to exchange their paint at no cost until they get the perfect color.  In addition, Valspar is building their image as a color-focused brand through various media, including video.  Through partnership with their PR agency, FCB Chicago, they created the “Color for All” campaign, which features an inspirational video ( that touches on the topic of colorblindness and the emotional reaction that humans have toward colors.

Changing your brand message can be a daunting task.  But in the case of Valspar, it has been an exciting journey and an opportunity to demonstrate how an established brand can continue to innovate and evolve its message. And Valspar hopes to change the way that people think about paint at least another 200 years.

Suky Lawlor, Director, Content Marketing, Chicago AMA



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