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Gfesser Brothers Discuss Building Trendler Brand on Latest Brothers, Battles & Bounty Podcast

When running a business, it is only natural to investigate what your competitors are doing. Businesses do this to figure out what makes their competitors successful and possibly incorporate their strategies into their own plans for success.

However, when the Gfesser brothers took this approach, they realized that all of their competitors seemed to be copying each other.  They found that their competitors had similar products and catalogs and even found their pictures being used by competitors.  When they came to this realization, they decided to not be preoccupied with what their competitors are doing.  They switched the focus of their time, energy, and effort into discovering what our customers want and how to best serve them.  This focus on how to best serve our customers and giving them what they want better than anyone else became the central principle of the Trendler brand.

Watch Episode 5 of Brothers, Battles & Bounty here:

Creating the Trendler Brand

As discussed above, the turning point in Trendler’s approach to branding is when we decided to put our time and effort into understanding and fulfilling our customers’ needs without worrying about what our competitors are doing.   Stefan explains that to really establish the Trendler brand, they needed to synchronize the finance department, production, and sales to create the infrastructure and foundation for branding.  Getting all of these departments on the same page made it possible to develop strong, cohesive branding.

The branding of your business is much more than a logo, it is the identity of your business.  The goal of the synchronization of the departments was to help our employees believe in our brand and what we’re doing to better serve our customers.  Everyone within the business must buy into the branding and focus on the audience that you want to serve.

Identifying Your Audience

Identifying your core audience, as in the people who your business can best serve, is crucial so that you know how to direct your branding and marketing efforts.  Building your brand identity and awareness with the right audience is a major key to success. 

In the days before the internet, Stefan handed Andreas a list of our current customers to analyze the list and identify the decision makers.  Andreas realized that the information they had for each customer was incomplete and began finding additional information such as the location of their corporate offices, size of their businesses, what industries they are in, and their gross sales.  This allowed Andreas to categorize customers by industry and determine which markets we were serving the most and which were the most profitable. 

With this model, the Gfesser brothers were able to identify prospective customers that met the same criteria as the ones we were already serving.  In one such example, Andreas explains how Stefan approached him about a current customer, saying that Trendler needs more customers like this one.  The customer was a wholesale distributor which was a market that Trendler had not yet fully tapped into.  Trendler now does business with 60% of the top wholesalers in the U.S.

Another important thing to remember is that businesses may have to adjust their branding to successfully sell to different markets.  Before selling to wholesalers, Trendler mostly worked with original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and sold chair frames to customers that would build their own seats onto the frames.  However, when they approached wholesalers, they had no use for chair frames without the seats and backs.  Trendler’s brand at the time was quality chair frames but to serve the wholesale market, the brand needed to be expanded to include finished furniture products.

Honoring Distribution Channels

This scenario presented the Gfesser brothers with a challenge as customers in the OEM market were concerned that our finished furniture products would compete with theirs.  However, we honor that distribution channel by not competing with the finished products created by our OEM customers.  We continue to provide these customers with furniture frames that they make into a finished product while avoiding selling our furniture products to end users. 

Trendler is one of the only manufacturers in our industry that honors our distribution channels.  By accommodating our customers in different markets in this way, we can strengthen the confidence and trust they have in our brand. 

Differentiating Your Brand from Competitors

Andreas admitted early in this episode that he thought branding was a logo.  When they began focusing more on the branding for Trendler, they realized it involves so much more than that.  Branding includes logos and color schemes as well as the message businesses send out to customers.  We made sure that we not only offered high quality products that fulfilled the needs of our customers, but also made sure to coordinate with each customer within the markets we served to avoid stepping on their toes.

What your business delivers to your customers is also a part of your branding that can set you apart from competitors.  At Trendler, offer the following as part of our brand:

·        Value: Our customers can expect a high-quality product for their money.

·        Speed: We offer short lead times, which is crucial in our industry.

·        Variety: Customers can choose from a wide variety of products, and we can mix and match parts and colors to create unique products that suit specific needs.

As we focused on these principles, we expanded our offerings from furniture parts and components and furniture frames to finished furniture products which strengthened our brand and opened the doors for us to serve different markets while continuing to deliver for the markets we have always served.

Branding Trendler Products

Many of Trendler’s early customers were OEMs that would buy furniture frames and components under a private label and then finish the products with their branding.  We continue to offer quality furniture components to our customers in this market as being a contract manufacturer has always been part of our brand.

In 2017, we expanded our brand to include finished Trendler brand chairs and barstools following the same principles of quality, variety, and speed which allowed us to serve different markets.  We continue to serve our customers under a private label while also offering branded finished furniture products for customers in different markets.  We are also careful not to compete with the finished furniture products of our private label customers, which builds trust in our brand and allows us to serve customers in new markets.

Be sure to check Trendler’s YouTube channel for more Brothers Battles & Bounty podcast and you can hear the complete conversation about branding by watching the full episode here: