While your company may not be ready for its own media campaign, studying the rationale behind creating a brand image can be beneficial.

Morris the Cat. Charlie the Tuna. Trusty the Yellow Lab.

Trusty? One West Coast roofing company hopes its efforts to create a brand image will resonate with consumers, if not quite on the scale of a Morris or Charlie, at least enough to spring to mind when it’s time for a new roof. While your company may not be ready for its own media campaign, studying the rationale behind creating a brand image can be beneficial.

“The campaign was created to enhance and extend the Petersen-Dean brand with a lovable, universally appealing character that could add life and fun to Petersen-Dean’s communications about our roofing business,” says Jennifer Varno, director of brand development for Petersen-Dean Inc., San Francisco, a large residential, commercial and industrial roofing company. According to Varno, the Trusty campaign is designed to garner attention, create immediate awareness, and symbolize qualities and attributes of Petersen-Dean that people can believe in, trust and, most importantly, remember.

“From the outset, using a dog that says ‘ROOF!’ seems a bit corny and a little too obvious. But that is actually one of its great strengths,” Varno continues. “The built-in association is so direct it is unforgettable and unmistakable. It is the kind of campaign that uses a little humor to create powerful brand awareness.”

Though animals are often used in advertising, Varno feels that in this case Petersen-Dean is getting both real product name association, because of Trusty’s constant response (“ROOF!”), and the association with a host of qualities and attributes that are also part of the company’s message. “There are no negative connotations to this symbol. The dog represents friendly ‘trust,’” she says.

Trusty poses with a driver in the Laguna Seca Champ Car series.

Campaign Elements

Petersen-Dean picked a Labrador for its brand image because it is one the most popular dogs in America. And of course, dogs in general are considered “man’s best friend.”

“Trusty gives us a symbol/metaphor/emblem/logo — an encapsulation that so beautifully and quickly communicates to people what we offer and what we promise them,” Varno explains. “They can trust us to take care of their roofing needs. It could take 1,000 to 10,000 words to try to explain all the reasons they should believe in us. But most people won’t read all the words. Trusty provides the symbol for much of the ‘emotional’ content we want them to attach to Petersen-Dean.”

The positive brand attributes that Petersen-Dean hopes consumers will associate with Trusty, and in turn, the company, are:

  • Dependability

  • Trustworthiness

  • Hard working

  • Good at the job

  • Friendly

  • Loyal

  • Always ready

  • Strong, solid

  • Performs with passion

  • Dedicated

Next Steps

Petersen-Dean began developing the Trusty campaign in the fourth quarter of 2002 and was ready to launch a few radio spots at the beginning of 2003. The radio ads use Trusty as the Petersen-Dean spokesman in an interview format. “The interviewer’s voice is rich, warm and full of humor and the scripts are written to cleverly put the message in the questions, which are all answered, of course, with a big ‘ROOF!’ from Trusty,” Varno explains.

The radio ads have been running from the start of the year with a slight two-week hiatus before the second series of spots was introduced. So far, the spots have been placed at various times on KGO and KCBS. According to Varno, “The response has been great. The humor in the ads has been acknowledged by numerous callers, and many have said they now look forward to each next ad.”

To take the campaign to the next level, Petersen-Dean attended the Laguna Seca Champ Car Series on Father’s Day and introduced a Trusty mascot — a yellow lab costume worn by a professional mascot entertainer. “The response was tremendous!” says Varno. “Kids loved the big Trusty, of course, but even grizzled guys there for the hard core racing came up and wanted their picture taken with Trusty.”

The next steps in the evolving campaign include creating a visual of Trusty that can be used in a variety of ways, such as on the Web site, on brochures and print ads, and on giveaway items like T-shirts, caps and stickers, etc.

Varno feels that Trusty works equally well for both builders and homeowners. “The builders need to know they can trust our process and our final product,” she says. “They want to feel secure about insurance and safety issues and that they are using a product that is going to represent them well. Homeowners want to trust that they are dealing with a company that will give a great looking, quality product for a competitive price. And they want to feel that the company they choose will be reliable, friendly, approachable, and will provide a good experience. And of course, they want to know they can trust that the final product will last.”