Branding Report: Industry suppliers offer insight on their current branding strategies – Nov 2023

By Jessica Chevalier

A flooring manufacturer or importer may have the best, most innovative products in the world, but without a solid brand strategy to win market hearts and minds, their products won’t get the visibility that they could.

The hitch, of course, is that branding strategy isn’t a static effort-established once and adhered to for the life of a business-but a malleable concept that must evolve as the business, the market and the customer evolves.

We asked some of the top manufacturers and importers in the industry to weigh in on the approach they are taking to today’s market.

AHF has four key growth strategies: sell across more customer categories; sell more products and product categories; differentiate products through innovation and branding; and leverage operational excellence to win across all categories and channels. The company has been diligent about investing in its family of brands and segmenting channel partners to help all partners grow their businesses, viewing the world through the eyes of its distributors and retailers. As part of its aggressive growth strategy, AHF recently acquired ceramic producer Crossville and its distribution arm, Crossville Studios.

The Ava brand seeks to be the prime source for commercial LVT: the prime source for design, the prime source for innovative and technology, and the prime source for manufacturing. By partnering with Ava, the commercial brand of global LVT manufacturer Novalis, the client gets direct access to the actual company and factory that makes their flooring-no middlemen. Ava is now spending more time with the end users that will ultimately own and use the spaces that have the brand’s flooring installed. Novalis, an LVT manufacturer for 25 years, puts the full weight of its manufacturing, R&D and design infrastructure behind the Ava brand, enabling it to provide product solutions for every commercial market segment.

Bjelin focuses on providing durable and long-lasting flooring powered by innovation technology, an extension of the company’s roots in R&D. Sister company Välinge Innovation invented the first mechanical floor locking system and Woodura surface technology, which gave birth to hardened wood floors. In early 2023, the Välinge Flooring and Bjelin brands merged to offer one global brand providing high-quality, Scandinavian-designed floors to a wider market.

Named for the Boen waterfalls in Norway, at the foot of which the company’s first sawmill was located, Boen’s brand message is “Rooted in Nature.” Natural hardwood remains Boen’s core focus. The company specializes in widths and lengths that are not easily replicated in other materials, while also embracing the raw, natural look of hardwood flooring through its Live Pure finish.

Cali stands for fresh, innovative style, prioritizing the development of colors and visuals that make customers feel as if their home has had a professional design upgrade. That coastal-inspired style comes backed by reliable products and stable inventory and delivered by a team that its customers and partners enjoy working with. The company wants the whole experience to feel authentic and bring a smile to the customer’s face. While Cali used to be a small, niche company operating on a schedule that served up collections at its own tempo, it is now challenging itself to keep pace with the larger brands in terms of new introductions. Cali benefits from the backing of its parent company, Victoria PLC, which enables the firm to invest in future collections and secure a stable supply chain.

CFL Flooring, a provider of SPC and hybrid flooring solutions, takes pride in its commitment to quality, innovation and unparalleled support for its distributors. Through its in-house brands, like FirmFit and Novocore Q Floors, it delivers a brand message centered around durability, style and customer empowerment. What sets the firm apart from the competition is not just its product quality but also the holistic support it provides to its distributors. Its current strategy places a strong emphasis on comprehensive brand support. It understands that its success is intertwined with the success of its partners, and, thus, it invests heavily in aiding its distributors’ growth, offering extensive in-store merchandising support, ensuring that its products are showcased effectively, captivating both RSAs’ and customers’ attention.

Diverzify is on a mission to lead the evolution of the historically fragmented commercial flooring and interior services industry. Over the last few years, Diverzify has welcomed new partners, entered new markets and introduced new services, making now the perfect time to introduce refreshed branding that reflects the company’s transformation. Its national network has unified experienced industry leaders and skilled tradespeople. Through strategic acquisitions and organic growth, Diverzify has built a network of 15 brands.

The Dixie Group made the strategic move to target specific market segments with its focus on style, design and color, equipping its partners with a specialized product offering that meets the needs of and is aligned with the tastes of today’s consumers. A soft surface-only provider until 2017, the company now boasts over 200 WPC/SPC/LVT options and over 50 engineered wood SKUs, in addition to its recent foray into the laminate category. The hard surface segment has grown to become a significant component of its business.

Emser is focused on always finding a way to say “yes” to the customer. Since the company opened its doors, its commitment to service has never wavered. What has evolved are the tools it uses to deliver industry-best levels of service and support. Currently, Emser offers a virtual showroom experience as well as in-person professional design services at all 78 of its showrooms. In addition, its customer service model is designed to support the builder, designer, retailer and subcontractor, and it recently opened Emser Tech, a new testing lab that brings standard testing in-house.

Engineered Floors’ foundation is built on three pillars: quality, service and innovation. Quality is a part of everything it does; its team of industry experts are meticulous in ensuring every piece of flooring meets the test of time in both style and durability. Service is its backbone; it prides itself on unmatched support to its customers. Innovation drives the company; it continuously pushes the boundaries of carpet and hard surface technology to create groundbreaking products that redefine the industry. According to the company, these three attributes are reflected in its products and technologies, from its DW Select collection to its High-Def Color Technology.

Engineered Floors’ two specified commercial brands, J+J Flooring and EF Contract, together enable it to meet the needs of an array of commercial market segments and product applications. What Engineered Floors’ commercial division believes sets it apart is its quality, service and innovation, as it has deployed significant capital to build state-of-the-art facilities that can significantly outperform conventional facilities with regard to service and quality. The company believes innovation can offer customers new solutions to old problems.

HMTX Industries’ brand strategy is built upon articulating its core value: People before profits, now and always. For over four decades, HMTX Industries has not only been a family-owned business, but also a company that remembers its legacy while considering the future, all the while continuing to be transparent and caring for its stakeholders and the planet. HMTX’s manufacturing partners, workplaces, global outreach and product ingredients all reflect a dedication to the environment, wellbeing, social justice and equity. HMTX is committed to raising industry standards for beautifully designed products and transparent operating practices, and HMTX is developing products with sustainability in mind.

I4F’s mission is to develop patented technologies that revolutionize the flooring industry. Through partnerships and its own R&D, the company believes it is creating the most advanced, innovative, robust, durable and easy-to-install solutions. By transforming connections, it is bettering the environments in which people around the world live, work and play. As a result of its partnerships and R&D, the flooring market has access to the extensive R&D efforts of many leading industry players. This significantly accelerates the adoption of new technologies and creates new market standards. The company sees its customers as partners.

Over the past 50 years, Interface has challenged the status quo in the carpet and textiles industry. Foundational to its brand is its focus on designing products that help its customers create beautiful spaces across industries, its visions for sustainability and innovation, and its legacy as a premium commercial flooring company. Meeting its customers where they are is essential to the brand. Its enhanced digital capabilities-inspired by shifting needs during the pandemic-help its customers explore new design trends and how flooring can play a role in these. Interface emphasizes the physical and digital experience of its brand and products and considers itself not just a flooring provider but a design partner.

Kaleen Rugs has carved a niche for itself in the flooring industry with its ability to cater to specialized markets, all while showcasing high-end luxury rug and carpet programs. Its brand message revolves around “Elevating Your Space, Your Way,” allowing it to stand out by emphasizing the personalized, luxury nature of its custom rugs, broadloom applications and performance indoor-outdoor offerings, and the opulence of its Luxe by Kaleen line. Kaleen thrives on customization, providing customers with the means to create flooring solutions tailored to their unique preferences and needs. Kaleen’s brand story encapsulates its evolution, transforming from a traditional rug manufacturer into a brand suited to fill niche markets with its high-end luxury rug and broadloom programs.

Karndean, a family-owned entity, has been in the flooring business for 50 years yet continues to focus its craftsmanship on a single product: luxury vinyl. That specialization allows it to continually innovate, refine and perfect the product, providing an unmatched combination of aesthetic and performance benefits. Karndean flooring is sold exclusively through specialty retailers.

Mannington’s heart lies in its craft, making exceptional flooring products with thoughtful design and uncompromising quality, and striving to provide customers with ongoing resources and sustainable solutions to support their creative vision because, ultimately, the company believes that what it is crafting is not only flooring but also a partnership. A family-owned company manufacturing flooring for 108 years, Mannington strives for transparency and a holistic view of its sustainability efforts. It cares deeply about the communities it operates in, and its mission is to be the best people in the flooring industry to do business with.

Mirage’s journey began in 1983, defined by a resolute commitment to quality, a commitment to the wood processing industry and long-term business relationships founded on integrity. Mirage’s operations hinge on attention to detail and the desire to create a product in perfect harmony with its environment to ensure sustainable development for current and future generations. Quality isn’t just found in its products but also in its passion and in the services it offers.

Ever since Mohawk rolled out its first carpets in 1878, it has built quality into every flooring product it makes. Mohawk continues that tradition today with product innovation in all flooring categories, award-winning design and a talented team dedicated to outstanding service. Mohawk offers some of the most trusted brands in flooring, including Daltile, Durkan, Godfrey Hirst, Karastan, Marazzi, Mohawk, Mohawk Group, Mohawk Home, Performance Accessories, Pergo and Quick-Step, understanding the power of brands and how important they are for infrequent purchase categories such as flooring.

MSI’s tag line encompasses its brand message, “Making Dream Surfaces Attainable.” The company sources the world for the right products and spends hours engineering the specifications and logistics to provide customers with value in the form of product, pricing, service, logistics, inspiration, marketing and merchandising. As a company, MSI is focused on increasing the size of the overall pie when it comes to flooring, countertops, hardscaping and decorative surfaces. Today, MSI, the 18th largest importer to the U.S., has over 50 distribution centers and showrooms strategically located across North America.

The Mullican brand is founded on authenticity, heritage, sustainability and artistry-pillars that will continue to guide the company into the future and values that its customers and partners can count on it to deliver. In this effort, the company has honed its focus on communicating the benefits of real hardwood, as it believes customers have “waterproof fatigue” and are moving back to natural and more environmentally friendly products.

Novalis’ modern brand strategy across its portfolio of products stands on the cornerstones of inspiration, innovation and sustainability and is executed through the following: classic aesthetics with a modern twist, innovative materials and technology, sustainability and eco-friendly practices, immersive digital experiences, and educational content. Novalis will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2024.

Patcraft designs from the inside out, creating products and solutions that transform space and experience and connect inner spaces with the outer world. The company is inspired by the world around it to connect and collaborate through curiosity, and it designs with purpose for positive impact. From the materials it uses in its products to the impact these have within spaces and beyond, Patcraft strives to close the loop. A large part of this approach is connection to its customers, a connection that is rooted in insight and feedback. The company is focused on building a suite of resources and expanding its virtual offerings to enhance the customer experience-meeting customers where they are.

Schönox connects flooring professionals with information, product solutions and opportunities. Its approach is distinctly “Hands ÖN” with its regional business managers and technical sales representatives working in the field to support the work of flooring professionals. The company has greatly extended its reach by building upon its network of trusted distributors, with Schönox subfloor solutions now available at over 185 locations nationwide. The company’s driving course is to never stand still with innovation.

Shaw’s portfolio of residential brands is designed with the primary goal of establishing a stronger connection to consumers and customers by introducing innovative product solutions that resonate with their needs. In supporting emphasis and investment in people and innovation, Shaw’s brand approach is rooted in deep market research and segmentation analysis, enabling the company to better understand its customers and position brands accordingly. Today, each of the residential brands has a targeted focus, ranging from practical lifestyle needs to smart, innovative solutions to a more tailored, design-driven model for discerning consumers. Continued analysis and segmented data will drive greater differentiation across Shaw Floors, Coretec, Anderson Tuftex and Philadelphia Commercial, and the markets each serves. Adaptability and a commitment to continuous improvement are integrated into Shaw’s corporate mindset. Both are embedded at the brand level to nimbly provide consumers with flooring solutions that meet practical requirements and resonate with lifestyle and personal preference.

Stanton is designer driven, and each of the brands in its portfolio brings a unique look, aesthetic and construction. The company is positioned in the mid- to high-end market and is well known throughout the industry for its handloomed offering, as well as its custom-size rug fabrication. The demand for made-to-fit rugs continually grows, and customization of finish as well as the option to attach a quality pad have truly differentiated Stanton within this category, the company believes. Stanton recently launched a new brand called Stanton Rug Company to unify its existing assortment of pre-made rugs offered in stock sizes. 

With 60 years of manufacturing experience, Unilin, a division of Mohawk, is committed to excellence, customer focus and continuous innovation. The company believes that “good enough” is not good enough and is always looking for new ways, ideas or methods to stand out, surprise its clients and, in the end, make life better-not only by creating innovative technologies but also by making sure that these have been thoroughly tested and work in the real world. The company is also now focused on offering more services to its licensees and building closer partnerships.

The XGS (Xpress Global Systems) brand is rooted in dedication to streamlining operations and optimizing service for customers. As a niche provider, it offers unique and highly specialized services. Receiving flooring is made simple and easy with services like custom cutting, pick-and-pack options, and more. XGS has enhanced its services by investing in its people, increasing its technological capabilities and enriching operations. In recent years, it has worked to align its visual branding to best represent its message by moving to a simplified, consistent logo and imagery.

Copyright 2023 Floor Focus 

Related Topics:Novalis Innovative Flooring, Mirage Floors, Marazzi USA, Kaleen Rugs & Broadloom, Mohawk Industries, AHF Products, The Dixie Group, Lumber Liquidators, HMTX, Daltile, Mannington Mills, Engineered Floors, LLC, Shaw Floors, Interface, Crossville, Shaw Industries Group, Inc., Karastan, Tuftex, Anderson Tuftex