Close to you - The TECE brand
The ISH trade fair coincides with the company’s 30th anniversary in 2017. To celebrate 30 years of existence, TECE has developed a new brand image: the new design visually incorporates our defined brand values, intended to attract customers, markets and employees. TECE has identified its DNA: What will the company stand for in the future? Where will the brand lead us? The TECEnews editorial staff talked to Managing Director, Hans-Joachim Sahlmann and Head of Marketing, Petra Bischof, behind the scenes of the first brand presentation to company employees and guests.
A brand is the distillate of everything that makes up a business.
Herr Sahlmann – is everything at ISH new?
Hans-Joachim Sahlmann: No. Of course not. TECE is still TECE. However, we are continuing to develop. To do so, we first need to examine what we have done well in the past and where we currently stand. We’re not altering our DNA. You can’t do that to genetic material. Over the past 30 years, TECE has undergone impressive development. We see this of course because we have always been involved in the process – however, our customers, the industry and media observers also confirm that this is the case. Let’s not forget: We have lost our company founder and managing director. Thomas Fehlings was not just the owner, but also our captain and compass. As his long-time fellow companion, I have made it my absolute personal commitment to keep a record of, and update, the DNA that has made us successful.
Petra Bischof: If I may give an outside perspective as a relative newcomer to the company... I got to know TECE as an extremely punchy, creative and future-riented company. But rapid growth must be finely adjusted time and again, and customer contact must be continuously optimised. That is: with words and deeds that point to the future.
What is the new “close to you” claim telling us?
Petra Bischof: Of course, it’s always about the customer and you, that is the industry, the people with whom we do business and to whom we devote our products. TECE is, and always has been, a company closely aligned to customer requirements. Otherwise we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Does the claim have to be in English?
Petra Bischof: We wanted something consistent. And today, Tece is an international group in which many nations come together. We are sure that our customers will understand the claim. Obviously, the message behind a brand is only ever as good as the way it is experienced. Customers must experience “close to you”, then they’ll understand what we mean without the need for words.
Hans-Joachim Sahlmann: Being close to customers is nothing new for us. Thomas Fehlings got right to the heart of the issue. He came from an engineering family and cultivated a culture of asking questions: “Can we do it better, more attractively, more easily?” This way of thinking turned TECE into an inquisitive company, driven by ideas and innovation. Time and again, we present our customers unexpected solutions. However, we don’t just ask our customers questions, we also work very closely alongside them. If you want to develop a good cistern, you need to be there to see how the tradesman gets on with installing or repairing the most successful cistern on the market. You need to see what works well and where something can be improved.
Petra Bischof: “Close to you” goes even further. We are committed to standing by our customers. And when you make such a pledge, you should be measured by your ability to fulfil it. The psychology involved is an important factor. Being close to the customer has made us successful for an entire generation – and will continue to be our guiding principle in the future.
Could you give us an example of what that will look like in practice?
Hans-Joachim Sahlmann: We talked upfront to the people that we work for: customers, planners, architects, real estate investors and, last but not least, the tradesmen. We asked them where they see us and what they expect from us. Architects, bathroom designers and end customers expect us to provide them with freedom in design. What’s important here are the inspirational ideas that can enhance bathroom architecture with a pre-wall installation or an elegant flush plate, for example. For this group, these design elements are far more important than the cistern behind them which must also be functional.
Planners and property developers expect us to provide them with support throughout the planning process – and assistance with project- specific procedures. That’s a completely different matter altogether. It means: we must be efficient and available when needed. Stick to deadlines and commitments. And deliver safety in terms of fire safety, reliable sound insulation and compliance to the relevant standards.
And our processors – that’s the people at the building sites – require products and solutions which enable installation and assembly without any hassle. This could be pipe systems or in-door modular grease separators. During the development of products, we must talk to the people who are later involved in assembling and putting them together. People simply want to be able to work with our products without any stress.
We have carved out fields of competence – that demonstrate our strengths to our customers.
Petra Bischof: We have worked out policies and formulated messages for each of these customer groups. And each product and service that we offer will be measured by this. Gaining insight: Customers expect expertise from us, firstly: in design and creation, secondly: in project and planning, and thirdly in installation and assembly. Our systems, products and services are fit and able in these three fields of competence.
Today, on the stage in front of 500 company employees and guests, you described this market development as a process that has taken almost two years to complete. How do you justify this major time investment?
Hans-Joachim Sahlmann: A brand is the distillate of everything that makes up a business. That might sound a bit informal, but I’m from Munster and the analogy with Schnapps gets the point across quite nicely. The spirit and soul that can be found in good strong liquor is representative of the excellent work of the distillers. Having gone through this process, we now know better than ever before what we are capable of, and where we need to improve. We have defined the very spirit of TECE.
Petra Bischof: We have strengthened our self-image and are committed to working closely with our customers. But the new logo, the claim and the insight we have gained must lead to a customer- and market-focused posture. That’s our aim. That’s the aim of any company that tackles this difficult subject.