Branding is one of the most important parts of owning a business. Your brand is the face and voice of your company, and it’s what your clients think of when they hear your name. When your business has been around for quite a while, like mine, it’s beneficial to take a step back and evaluate whether it is time for a rebrand. In addition to your company and its services changing over time, it is inevitable that trends, ideas, and your customers will change throughout the life of your business.
I started Line 204, a boutique studio and production rental company in Los Angeles, more than 20 years ago. Recently, we took Line 204 from a working man’s company and transformed the brand into a sleek, state-of-the-art business that attracts the loyal, high-end consumers we desired. The rebrand did not just start and stop with a new logo. We had to revitalize every aspect of the company, from the front lobby to the website. Basically, we had to spend money to make it. We also had to trust that this rebranding process would work. Below are three principles we used to guide us through this process.
Know Your Why
Why are you rebranding? Did you launch a new product? Are you trying to differentiate yourself from competitors? It sounds simple, but knowing your why is the best starting point for determining your goals and path to rebranding. For Line 204, we needed to re-engage our current customers and appeal to new customers that were being targeted by our competitors. Our first step was hiring a design and marketing consultant. She brought to my attention that the original branding -- a bold, dirty, and masculine logo that I loved -- read as a working man’s company, which was perfect for when I started the business out of my backyard in the ‘90s. But, 15 years later, we were now pigeonholed, catering only to our existing client base who were being marketed something shiny and new with every studio and rental company popping up in town. It was time to rebrand to be competitive and gain market share. We approached the rebrand by targeting the type of customer we wanted to attract – a more discerning, high-end clientele who are loyal to the brands they love. We knew we needed a fresh, modern take on our bold, beloved brand that could stand competitively with the Apples and Netflix’s of the world. Knowing our why helped maintain our focus as we navigated the rebranding process.
Create and Stay True to Your Mission Statement
Developing a strong mission statement helps drive a lot of decisions that will be made regarding your brand’s new design and upgraded products. Line 204’s mission statement for the rebrand was “SPECIALTY FILM & EVENT RENTALS SMOTHERED IN SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY.” We are a family-owned-and-operated company with five of our key managers (including myself) from Alabama, so we knew the “Southern Hospitality” aspect of our business would not change and also that people gravitated toward it. So, we committed to it, and Line 204’s redesign was dictated by our mission statement. The result was modern-industrial décor with bits of Southern hospitality peppered throughout the space with new artwork and amenities. Every lightbulb was changed to help create a new vibe within the studios! The rebrand also included a new logo, signage, website and vehicle graphics. Hints of Southern hospitality are not only found throughout the studios’ décor and branding, but our clients also feel it in Line 204’s customer service. My motto is, “We’re in the relationship business first, and the rental business second.”
Don’t Forget Your People
While a rebrand focuses a lot on the external, you cannot forget the internal people that make your company. In addition to hiring a design and marketing consultant to assist with the rebranding process, we also had to hire some fresh, smart talent to elevate our customer experience, which included stage managers and a booking director. To help with the rebrand launch, we hired a new sales manager to draw old and new clients’ attention to what was new at Line 204. This made a huge impact in getting the word out about the facility’s new design and spaces, which were really attractive compared to many of Hollywood’s older, rundown sound stages.
Following our three-year, $2 million-dollar rebrand, utilization of our sound stage rentals has increased by more than 25%. Today, Line 204 is a well-known and respected name in the Hollywood production industry. Because of the rebrand’s success, Line 204 has expanded and scheduled to break ground this year on the largest studio complex to be built in the LA area in almost 30 years! While the rebranding process isn’t a smooth road, sticking to these three principles helped make it a bit easier and definitely worth all the work in the end.
Authored by Alton Butler, CEO of Line 204:
Alton Butler is a true rags to riches story, who has built one of the most successful studios and production rental companies in Los Angeles from meager beginnings in his home state of Alabama. In 1997, Alton launched Line 204 out of his garage in Studio City where he rented production equipment to Los Angeles commercial units. Under his leadership, Line 204 has grown expeditiously, employing over 120 team members across four business entities. In 2018, Line 204 will break ground on a 240,000-square-foot studio complex in Sun Valley - the largest to be built in LA in close to 30 years! Line 204 has hosted some of the most recognized print and commercial shoots in the industry, recently including The Hollywood Reporter’s Emmy “Roundtable” series, “Dancing with the Stars” promos for Disney and 2018’s notable Academy Awards promo with Jimmy Kimmel. Line 204has rented props and production equipment for some of the top TV shows on-air today, such as "This is Us.” For more information about Line 204, please visit www.line204.com.