Swan: It Still Makes Hoses, But Call It A 'Watering Company'

For many, a hose is just a hose. However, the Swan Company, which sells hoses under the Swan, Scotts, Element, Miracle Gro and Goodyear brands, wants to elevate the entire hose category and be recognized as an innovator, not just a manufacturer. 

Now, Swan is teaming with Brand Initiatives Group for a branding makeover that includes a new company focus, new company look and several new products. In all, this new "The Watering Company" brand positioning will provide the overarching brand umbrella across all Swan brands and licensed products. 

The goal of this entire effort is to change mind-sets and shift perceptions. Above all, Swan wants to be recognized as The Watering Company, not just a hose company. By doing so, executives hope they can inspire their people with a higher purpose, elevate themselves in the eyes of their customers, and add value to every one of their brands and products. 



“Water is Earth’s most essential resource," says Miguel Nistal, Swan CEO. "At Swan Products, we strive to make the world a better more sustainable place for passionate gardeners, proud homeowners and hardworking farmers. That is why we are “The Watering Company.”

As part of the effort, Swan is introducing this new branding internally, since executives feel that in order for a brand positioning and purpose to be real, all stakeholders have to believe in it, says Brett Shevack, CEO/Founder, Brand Initiatives Group.

"Leading brands and companies need to always keep their competitors playing catch up by separating and differentiating themselves above the rest of category. BMW wanted to be perceived as ‘the ultimate driving machine,’ not just a car. Starbucks aspired to be ‘the third place’ in people’s lives, not just a brand of coffee. Swan Products recognized they, too, had the opportunity to redefine themselves as The Watering Company, not just a ‘hose company.’"  

Swan employees were invited to a launch event to signal their commitment to this manta by signing huge banners that will hang in all Swan Products facilities. They were also given T-shirts, hats and ‘watering’ fountains. 

After the internal launch, the initiative will extend through all external channels and touch points. Beginning in late May, the Website and e-commerce site will reflect this new branding. At the same time, executives are meeting with retail customers to present this makeover and encourage retailers to rethink how Swan is presented in their stores.

Finally, the brand will introduce new packaging, trade advertising, as well as updated digital and trade show displays. Collectively, these efforts will hopefully build recognition, shift perception, and create focus and clarity with consumers and customers.

All marketing communication in all media will reflect the new positioning. Since Swan’s first line of customers is the retailer, there will be trade advertising in key trade publications along with a totally redesigned booth at the National Hardware Show, say executives. Public relations will play a key role, particularly with the growing, heightened concern about environmental and water conservation issues. 

One key challenge with this repositioning is changing the "commodity mind-set" of both the retailer and shopper, says Shevack. "Swan wants to be perceived as an innovator -- innovation flows through every hose Swan makes -- not just a manufacturer, as having deep knowledge and expertise, not just facilities and capabilities, but as a company that is purpose-driven, not just sales-driven." 

Another obstacle is streamlining a message across all of its various brands. Each Swan brand is targeted against a different demographic and psychographic target. As such, different messaging has been developed across digital and social media to engage key target customers, particularly homeowners, working farmers and gardeners, along with a larger broad universe of consumers that simply want to purchase low-priced hoses. 

Brand Initiatives Group started working with Swan late last year. The Group has worked with a range of companies and organizations, including GE, 7-Eleven, Omnicom Group, Lane Bryant and the Limited Stores.

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