For most of its history, Sunnen’s customers knew the company for one thing and one thing only: honing machines and accessories. In fairness, the company pioneered many of the standard honing techniques still in use today. But as the company expanded and acquired new subsidiaries around the world, customers weren’t seeing the breadth of what Sunnen could do.
After nearly a century in business, Sunnen was at a tipping point. It needed a brand, message and experience that conveyed a bold new chapter—a chapter to carry the company forward through the next 100 years.
Sunnen’s brand program began with a series of Discovery sessions. We spoke with Sunnen leaders around the world to get a clear picture of where the company was, where it had been and where it was headed.
As to be expected, we heard some conflicting answers, but also plenty of common ground. We worked closely with Sunnen’s U.S. leadership team to determine which insights held the most weight and which ones would ultimately inform our branding work.
The scope of Sunnen’s capabilities created a certain challenge during the brand positioning phase. Its sprawling catalog includes machines, tools and accessories over three distinct product lines of bore creation, sizing and finishing. Yet, there is one quality uniting each of them: precision.
Historically, Sunnen had marketed itself based on the quality of its products. And without detracting from that quality, we tasked ourselves with pulling back the curtain to share what that quality meant for its customers: safer products, faster engines, longer machine life—and much more.
Sunnen’s new messaging comes together in a simple tagline, built from just three words we felt best conveyed the experience of working with the company: Partnership. Precision. Performance.
Much of Sunnen’s visual identity was anchored by a sunburst mark, first designed early in the company’s history. However, during our discovery sessions, we learned the mark had experienced some wear and tear over the years. Some measurements were imperfect, original illustrations were lost to time and the mark itself created a sense that the company was Japanese—especially when paired with the Sunnen name.
After much consideration, we moved to refine the sunburst mark and bring it into the 21st century. We updated it with mathematically sound angles and spacing, forming a radial that subtly nods to the shape of a Sunnen honing rod, one of the company’s most fundamental products. For the wordmark, we adopted a modern geometric typeface. With its bold look and all-caps treatment, the wordmark positions Sunnen to stand out amongst its competitors.
With all the pieces in place, it was time to develop a comprehensive brand guidelines document. This document housed all the brand positioning messaging and design elements that made the new Sunnen brand so distinct. One of the biggest pain points we heard from Sunnen leadership was a lack of consistency from one subsidiary to another. Our brand guidelines document included in-depth instruction for how to use the new brand, giving all Sunnen team members a common playbook.
E-Commerce Web Design
Sunnen’s old website was localized to the U.S. and didn’t offer the modern functionality of its competitors. Our goal was to position the website as a vital sales tool for the Sunnen team, ultimately alleviating some of the burden on overtasked sales representatives.
The new website was built on an e-commerce platform, allowing Sunnen to more readily share the breadth of its product catalog with users. We developed several levels of access, meaning Sunnen could determine which users could only browse the catalog and which could make purchases.
The new site is designed to showcase Sunnen’s full capabilities, as well as the critical applications of its work. Photography was carefully considered to illustrate the key benefits of using Sunnen equipment. We also wrote the site’s content with an emphasis on discoverability and organic search engine optimization. Our goal was for every user to leave the website learning something new about what Sunnen does and what it can do for them.