September 1, 2015
Last weekend, I was lucky to meet Dan, a retired, former executive of Sherwin Williams at a backyard summer party. For years, Dan ran plants and also had significant jobs in sales and distribution overlapping the era of Jack Breen, the beloved CEO who engineered the company’s growth from 1979 to 1999.
Naturally, I couldn’t wait to ask him the question that pops into my head every time I see a Sherwin Williams 18-wheeler with that hideous “Cover the Earth” logo. You’ve all seen it – A SWP can that spills red paint all over the globe. “Do you know why, in this age of sustainability and environmental concern, SW hasn’t retired that logo?” I asked him.
He explained how he’s been asked that question many times and always gives the same reply. Here’s Dan’s interpretation:
Before Jack Breen came on board in 1979, SW actually retired the logo and sales declined. Jack decided to bring it back. The rationale was that it was one of the most recognized brand marks in the world and considered one of the company’s most valuable assets. Then, sales began to grow on a record course.
“Was it just the logo?” I teased. He replied how it was more about the internal attitude of the company that changed. Jack made it clear that SW was going to grow and that they would grow based on a heritage that started in 1866 in Cleveland. They wanted to be the market share leader in North America and then become one of the top companies in coatings and paints in the world. Jack set in motion a plan to improve efficiency, improve output, acquire gems like Dutch Boy, and reduce debt to zero. He did all of it and set the company on a very good course.
So, I did my own homework. Dan’s story was right, even though it left out a few important elements. First, Sherwin Williams had a strong commitment to R&D and to market research. They were the first to see the trend in home and commercial construction to new exterior and interior surface materials. Fewer homes would need paint because they would be constructed with aluminum siding and pre-coated durable shingles that would not need Joe Homeowner to go out and repaint every 7 years.
SW went hard into the industrial coatings market to diversify the company while pushing tirelessly to build its own retail stores so that they could deliver the best expertise and service to consumers and contractors. The brand continues to build today and has over 4,500 corporate-owned stores even while they are rolling out a new line of solutions through Lowe’s Home Improvement stores this year.
Next, I checked the financials going back 30 years. Holy Cow! (I’m a Yankee’s fan and once met Phil Rizzuto). On August 1, 1985, SW’s share price was $37.12 and its dividend was less than 3 cents. On August 3, 2015, its share price as $255.81, an increase of 689%. Its dividend also increased 24 times over that period. The majority if Wall Street analysts covering SW have a “buy” or “strong buy” on the stock.
Then, I checked the annual report and looked for evidence of the SW posture towards sustainability. They have a corporate video on the latter and have defined sustainability as a combination of:
What I found most intriguing was how they defined Pride as a sustainability strategy. SW celebrates its people and challenges them to find ways to advance their leadership today so that the pride of the brand will establish a strong and better future for the generations of SW employees that follow.
So, what is really in that “Cover the Earth” logo? I think there is lot of pride embedded in it. The employees wear that logo proudly and the Sustainability Video kicks off with the logo and ends with employees standing around it.
I give SW a lot of credit for standing on its pride and heritage. However, I still hate the logo and so do many other people with whom I have chatted. It’s anachronous and too inward-facing. Consumers are not getting it and millennials will rebel as they form households.
I don’t think a change is in the near future under current leadership (the CEO is 58). But I predict that SW will, in fact, update its logo under the next CEO.
In the meantime, can’t they just change the color of the paint that drips all over the earth from red to green?
Brands have been making headlines with increased frequency for viral PR blunders. Learn how to avoid their mistakes… https://t.co/xD9vyoUhgv
April 11 - 9:04 pm - View on Twitter
Would you want your #ad to run before a terrorist propaganda piece? It happened to Hyundai & it could happen to you… https://t.co/G2i2mNgkef
March 28 - 8:31 pm - View on Twitter
Our Director of Video Operations offers insight into the world of #VirtualReality: https://t.co/VE4cO1iciV https://t.co/k81r8hNhpk
March 21 - 7:49 pm - View on Twitter
Did you miss this week's Insight Tuesday? Graphic designer Carrie Nestel explores the importance of packaging: https://t.co/uZ0XD7NY51
March 9 - 4:14 pm - View on Twitter
Check out our CEO's insight into the Ad-Blocking cold war that is being waged between marketers and their audiences: https://t.co/b8CSJw3IjT
March 1 - 7:10 pm - View on Twitter
Account Exec. Leigh Cesanek pulls together some of Sunday night's most memorable #ads & speculates who really won: https://t.co/uxFDg8YmtK
February 7 - 8:41 pm - View on Twitter
Our CEO reflects on reasons we are not achieving the level of clarity that big data should be providing. Read it: https://t.co/Xap3aIysa7
January 31 - 9:59 pm - View on Twitter
Our CEO offers insights into the benefits of 'non-investments,' such as the annual family vacation he takes. https://t.co/NSJtyKRbEI
January 18 - 5:00 pm - View on Twitter
Use #socialmedia to spark meaningful discussions about the things your company cares about: https://t.co/4LrNHuLUOa
January 10 - 8:00 pm - View on Twitter
Paul Federico talks about a unique art show he is a part of, in which the individuality of the artist can shine:… https://t.co/C9kbQf7g8n
December 27 - 8:00 pm - View on Twitter
The Princeton Partners team wishes you a joyful holiday season! Watch our holiday video here:… https://t.co/n6tlEOpmXO
December 21 - 8:29 pm - View on Twitter
We're in the holiday spirit! Take PPI's quiz on the hilarious holiday classic, 'Elf.' https://t.co/0uAbOsWsNl https://t.co/DLU01euQtk
December 20 - 9:08 pm - View on Twitter
Our CEO discusses the strategic planning meeting he attended w. @PHAnews & why the White House Garden inspired him:… https://t.co/NJGXmBVq8G
December 13 - 8:58 pm - View on Twitter
Our CEO created a brief quiz to test your knowledge of financial literacy in the US. The results may surprise you: https://t.co/uVwDP9ECzp
December 6 - 8:49 pm - View on Twitter
Associate Creative Director, Aaron, has come up with ten #gifts to avoid giving your #clients this holiday season:… https://t.co/BL1Q6G5lvk
November 29 - 9:15 pm - View on Twitter
Tim Burr weighs in on the the viral mess that New Balance is currently dealing with since a Tweet was misunderstood… https://t.co/j2B4UdrftD
November 22 - 8:00 pm - View on Twitter
Check out our CEO, Tom Sullivan, on the homepage of @NJBIZ this morning for an 'Industry Insights' piece:… https://t.co/WxFVAoUvK2
November 22 - 3:15 pm - View on Twitter
Check out the latest in our blog series the "Intern Spotlight" & get to know digital development intern, Gabriela.… https://t.co/cgazIIY6Fc
November 21 - 4:15 pm - View on Twitter
Following the election, many people are feeling anxious about the future. Our CEO suggests taking local action: https://t.co/xP9r4v2F6e
November 15 - 8:10 pm - View on Twitter
We had Chris's daughter, Ellie, visit us in the office today. She helped us with website coding and even took us ou… https://t.co/YUCgbBuLpi
November 11 - 9:33 pm - View on Twitter