I can remember thinking at the end of 2013 that my company, Crematory Manufacturing & Service, Inc., was almost 20 years old, my father had retired 4 years previous and because I was at the helm—what was I going to do with it? How could I continue to grow the company but also to affect a positive change in the small but significant funeral sector. With the continued growth in cremation and the odd perceptions of cremation in, not only the public mindset, but also in the thoughts of the very people that are offering cremation to the public, I was at a loss. For many reasons, cremation became the bane of the funeral director's existence. In reality it should have been a wonderful thing for funeral directors but maybe not so wonderful for grave diggers or mausoleum owners. All of this has been in the back of my mind throughout my thoughts of how I was going to make my mark in our profession.
I decided that to start, CMS needed to update its look. We had tried in the past to re-fresh the outer image and have had plenty of success growing the company but really, it was a result of our equipment and service reputation, not so much our "look". I thought our look was OK but just needed to be fluffed up a bit. As I was researching and talking to marketing and branding folks regarding this update idea, I was even told that our look was a bit "cartoony". WOW.....that was eye opening to say the least. Stepping out of my ego a bit, I had to agree. So I set out to find not just a refresh, but a more complete transformation for the company.
I was extremely fortunate to meet a young couple that owned a creative branding and marketing company near Cincinnati, Ohio while speaking at a professional training event in Richmond, VA. We ended up in the bar (shocking) talking about brand identity and my desire to create a completely new look for CMS. My epiphany came over a double Macallen 12 year on the rocks. The couple explained to me that their approach is much different than most branding companies. They look within to reveal the identity instead of creating something that is forced onto a company just to look good in ads and trade shows. I was blown away by this.
The rest is history. I ended up hiring them to completely re-brand CMS and started in February of 2014 with a "B & B" weekend at their house in Covington, KY doing nothing but brainstorming, tossing out ideas, research, probing, thinking and basically trying to delve into exactly who CMS is. (We did have some fun along the way. If you know the Imperis make sure to ask them about doing yoga in a lesbian bar!) We ended the weekend having truly discovered CMS, who he is (yes, CMS is a male!), what he stands for, what he wants to accomplish and how he is going to do it! Not only that, we had the new "look" too! Funny thing is that the "look", although amazing, was the least exciting thing about the weekend for me.
We've made a lot of the internal changes already and have been working on the transition of all of the parts and pieces for months now. We will officially roll out the new brand on August 6, 2014 at the Cremation Association of North America Annual Convention in Minneapolis, MN. If you are around, stop and say HI! We are extremely proud of what we have accomplished and this is only the beginning!