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GSE Environmental

Learn how we redirected a global manufacturer from selecting the wrong brand position°

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  • Text: Durability Runs Deep
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  • GSE Environmental Website on a computer

GSE Environmental is the leading global provider of geosynthetic lining products and services used for landfills, mining operations, power plants and other civil and industrial applications. After years of mergers and acquisitions, the company struggled to unify their worldwide operations and culture. As GSE approached its Initial Public Offering, it needed a brand that effectively represented a large public company.

BrandExtract studied its brand position in North, Central and South America as well as Germany and the Middle East, developed a globally cohesive brand, identified opportunities to share and leverage information across regions, and cultivated a strong brand position around reliability and durability.

What We Did

  • Rebranded the company
  • Strategically repositioned company for IPO
  • Launched the new brand across platforms globally

How We Did It

  • Conducted a brand assessment and market research
  • Developed a cohesive brand for global markets
  • Realigned GSE’s internal operations and team

The Challenge

GSE has a very entrepreneurial culture built on years of global mergers and acquisitions, which presents an unusual challenge: every business unit was operating as if it were a stand-alone entity. While the company has facilities all over the world, each region was filling orders independently without a clear picture of the resources available at other locations. This created missed opportunities as clients in different parts of the world had different ideas about the breadth and depth of GSE’s product and service offerings. It also created internal challenges, as there was no central platform to share best practices and systems.

 GSE Inline Image

Shift Focus to a Shared Future

Not only did each region have a fragmented view on how they were connected operationally to other GSE locations, the brand itself lacked cohesion and relied on legacy elements from earlier mergers. And, with new leadership, the company was set to embark upon a new strategy of “Good, Better, Best” products as well as the development of niche innovations targeted at specific needs like coal ash containment. The BrandExtract team was charged with developing a bold new brand system that all parties could embrace, and a unified voice they all could speak, albeit in several different languages.

Overcoming a Green Bias

Prior to our engagement, consultants and shareholders had advised GSE leadership that they should focus the brand on “green” positioning, based on specific trends they were seeing in different parts of the world. During our assessment process, the team learned from current and potential GSE clients that “green” was not a factor in the geosynthetic liner universe. In some cases, that perception could even be seen as a negative. If the products do their job, the environment is protected. The new brand position would need to highlight GSE’s ability to “keep the bad stuff separated from the good stuff,” without invoking negative associations.

The Solution

To discover opportunities and uncover challenges, we conducted an in-depth brand assessment, which included surveys, interviews and market research in three languages. We corresponded with company stakeholders across multiple countries to shift the brand away from features and functions and bring the focus to the company’s ability to create durable, innovative solutions that protect the environment.

Build Unified Identity

It was important to unite the company so it could move forward as a true global player rather than several smaller national entities under the same umbrella. Based on our extensive research, we developed a brand that uniquely and authentically positioned GSE products. The distinctive look and feel we created was unique from any other company in the market.

Promote Worldwide Collaboration

During the assessment, we uncovered opportunities to improve service and communication across teams and for customers in different areas of the world. Some locations had developed advanced manufacturing processes, allowing them to create certain products for their customers, while other locations remained unaware of these capabilities. Based on our recommendations, GSE implemented an “Innovation Team” to facilitate the sharing of research and developments across the company.

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Support Global Brand Reach

To meet the vision for a truly global brand that would be sustainable in the long-term, we worked closely with GSE’s internal team to deliver a solid brand platform. We researched the appropriate voice, sensitivities and primary concerns across each of their international markets to allow their team to adjust the message as needed for particular regions while staying within brand.

The Impact

Internally, the new brand we developed for GSE helped facilitate better collaboration between their facilities and with their customers. Externally, it more clearly communicated products and services to a global audience and helped re-establish the company as the industry’s innovative leader in time for its debut on the NYSE.

Stakeholders adopted and embraced the new brand that represented the company’s future, not the remnants of its past. The GSE team began cross-selling globally – the focus had shifted to thinking about the best way to get the product to the clients, instead of the best way to produce it within their own region. The brand platform also supported new marketing initiatives designed to promote product awareness, new product development and greater visibility across the globe.

For example, the company’s lift in visibility and brand awareness was reflected in a traffic increase to their new website of over 50% compared to the previous site. Our redesign of GSE’s website also earned a 2012 Outstanding Website WebAward from the international Web Marketing Association competition.


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We’ve grown into a global company that’s capable of doing bigger and better things. Our partnership with BrandExtract helped us launch this global rebranding initiative that better represents who we are and what we're made of.

— Steve Eckhart
GSE Global Director of Marketing

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