Repackaging USG: A Behind-the-Scenes Look

June 29, 2015

An Interview with Linda McGovern, Vice President of Marketing at USG.

Linda McGovern has been at USG for 10 years and led the charge to rebrand the company and its products in conjunction with the packaging requirements set forth by OSHA and its Global Harmonization System (GHS) mandate. Below, Linda takes us through the process of rebranding and its importance.

Q. How does a company know when to rebrand its products and what are the most important things to keep in mind?

A. A company has to ask itself “why now?” In 2007, USG experienced the most dramatic downturn in our company’s history. Rather than just trying to stay afloat, USG and our executive team looked at this as an opportunity. We needed to demonstrate both internally and externally our renewed focus. One of the most visible ways to do that is through the relaunch of our brand.

Relaunching our brand allowed us to demonstrate our renewed commitment to our customers. We knew for years we wanted to showcase this important relationship, and when coupled with GHS, the timing seemed right.

Q. How long does it take to develop new packaging and get it rolled out and on shelf?

A. For USG, the process took years and our core re-branding team is still intact as our new packaging is just hitting shelves now. We hopped on the GHS initiative quickly, trying to get an understanding from the very beginning of all of the requirements surrounding the mandate. We asked ourselves what does it mean for us as a manufacturer? What about our customers and distribution partners?

USG is a partner to its customers. We support them in terms of awareness and education. The GHS mandate impacts product packaging for a significant number of USG products. We needed to ensure we were approaching this the right way from the very beginning. We put a team together that was solely dedicated to our repackaging effort, and enlisted the help of an outside firm, SGK.

We launched our new packaging in early December 2014, a full six months ahead of the GHS mandate deadline of June 1, 2015. We sent information and images to our customers and to the industry as a whole. In April, products with new packaging started rolling out to retail outlets and distributors.

Q. Where did the ideas for the new packaging come from?

A. Ideas and feedback come from all directions, both internal and external. We talked with employees across the organization at all levels -- from sales and marketing to customer service and manufacturing. We even involved customers in our research.

Q. What input do you look to your customers for?  

A. Bringing in customers to get their feedback was crucial to this process. We know that packaging plays an important role in how our customers understand not only our products, but also our brand. We conducted extensive research and hosted focus groups with customers. They provided insight into how they use our products and the information that matter most to them.

Q. How do you get customers on board with the new look?

A. This is why it is so important to bring customers into the process. Not only did we ask them in the beginning to talk about their ideal packaging designs, but we also showed them design concepts along the way. We looked to our customers to tell us what they liked and didn’t like. The end result is based on feedback we heard from our customers.

Communication is also key in an initiative as big as this. It’s important for our customers to understand why the packaging looks the way it does and how we landed on the new look. For example, contractors told us that they’re busy, so we made our packaging easier to spot. We also heard that our instructions could be clearer, so we simplified them with a more consistent layout.

We also focused heavily on our communication with our sales team. The depth of their knowledge is critical to ensure they are able to educate our retail and distribution partners. It is important that a sales person at a distribution branch or a rep in the aisle at one of our retail partners understands all the features and benefits of our new packaging and is able to help our customers do the same.

Q. How do you evaluate customers reaction to the new packaging?

A. We ask for feedback and then we study it. The feedback we receive from the sales team and our distribution and retail partners is a key factor in ensuring we are getting our message out. Our ultimate goal is to create a better experience for our customers. 


"Repackaging USG: A Behind-the-Scenes Look.” Linda McGovern, Vice President of Marketing at USG; gyro, 6/29/15.

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