Dunbar Rebrand

Helping a 55-Year-Old Brand Take a Stance

Industry: ,

Scope: Brand research and insights, stakeholder interviews, brand strategy and platform, naming, visual identity and brand language, messaging and copywriting, marketing collateral system and templates, website updates, social media templates, brand rollout strategy and internal and external brand launch plan

Recognizing the value of a strong brand as a strategic business asset critical for achieving its growth goals, Dunbar engaged Substance151 to define its position and competitive differentiators, communicate its approach and capabilities more effectively, increase employee brand engagement and advocacy and, ultimately, help the firm become the first choice for ideal clients and top talent.

dunbar rebrand infographic

Brand Research: Uncovering a Key Contradiction

Substance151 began with in-depth brand research to ensure that the new brand showcased the firm’s critical points of difference in concrete terms relevant to prospects, clients and employees.

dunbar brand research

During the client interview process, a major theme emerged: structural engineering firms were perceived as too conservative and overly cautious.

However, when analyzing this perception against interviewees’ descriptions of an “ideal” structural engineering firm, we saw that having a “conservative” structural engineering firm on their side is exactly what clients want and need.

Brand Strategy: Turning Negative Perception into Powerful Differentiator

We knew that to carve a distinguishable position, Dunbar had two options: To overcome the deeply rooted perception of structural engineering firms or embrace it and turn it into a competitive advantage.

Our recommended strategy was to fully embrace Dunbar’s “thoughtful and thorough” nature, capitalizing on the opportunity to shape the firm’s brand stance from the three pillars on which the most compelling and enduring brands are built:

Customer Insight + Inherent Essence + Polarizing Stance

Brand Platform: Flipping the Script on “Conservative”

The new brand platform communicates Dunbar’s inherent strengths and brings its differentiating qualities into the spotlight, enabling the firm to wear its conservatism like a badge of honor and its prospects to instantly recognize the value behind it.

dunbar rebrand brand platform

Dunbar’s brand personality not only needed to reinforce the thoughtful and thorough side of the brand platform but also accurately reflect the firm’s personable nature and progressive attitude.

Creative Execution: Bringing Brand Strategy to Life

New Name

As new partners were added, the firm’s name had become too cumbersome (Dunbar Milby Williams Pittman & Vaughan) – even Dunbar employees could not get it right. The acronym DMWPV was equally difficult to remember.

After weighing different approaches to the naming strategy, it was decided to simplify the name to “Dunbar.” The external interviews confirmed that this is how most clients already refer to the firm, and this was the most effective and least disruptive choice.


New Logo and Brand Language

The balance between “thoughtful and thorough” and “progressive” is echoed throughout all brand expressions.

The corporate color palette pairs a sophisticated steel gray with modern, bright blue and melon accents. Our choice of typography combines a more traditional sophisticated serif typeface with a modern sans serif.

The visual identity was inspired by the sharp geometry of steel structures and the beauty of that geometry, interpreted into abstract shapes and detailed linework.

dunbar rebrand visual identity engineering firm logo dunbar-graphics-4web12 dunbar rebrand brand identity dunbar rebrand brand language

For Dunbar’s collateral, we developed a flexible, modular design and an infinitely expandable visual system where each piece builds on the other in order to create a cohesive visual identity for the firm across all channels and communications.

Ida and Substance151 led our firm through a rebranding project that was comprehensive, process-driven and educational, and it produced results. Now we look as good as we are!

Kathleen Bozis, Associate / Director of Marketing, Dunbar

dunbar rebrand collateral redesign Dunbar collateral redesign Dunbar-web2

Our experience working with Substance151 has been tremendous. Ida and her team guided us through a 10-month process of learning about ourselves, determined what our clients and the market needed, and developed an effective platform that leads our firm toward the future. Substance151 knows the A/E/C market and their experience was critical to developing our new brand. The messaging and visual identity are clean and modern and are a perfect reflection of who we are!

Brian Stanley, PE, Principal, Dunbar

Your Project + Our Approach = Results

Do you have a branding or marketing project in the works? We’d love the opportunity to share how our approach can help you fast-forwards results. To start a conversation, fill out our project inquiry form, call 410-732-8379 or email.

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