“Thanks to Category5, we’re going from being a commodity to being your trusted advisor.”
Dana Birkes, VP/Chief Marketing Officer


Energy is the key to the advancement of civilization some researchers say. It’s the catalyst that allows us to evolve. Category5 was that catalyst for Clifford Power Systems, Inc., a Tulsa, Okla.-based generator company looking to grow its revenue.

The nearly 30-year-old company had a goal of growing from a $50 million company to a $100 million company in 10 years. A new chief marketing officer (CMO), Dana Birkes, was hired in 2013 to spearhead the project. With such an aggressive goal ahead of her, Birkes sought out Category5.

The Category5 Approach

Category5 first conducted a brand audit to determine Clifford Power’s goals, identify challenges and potential white space opportunities, gain better insights into its customers and understand how this relates to the generator company’s competitors.

From the brand audit, Category5 discovered that Clifford Power:

  • Was using an outdated sales model
  • Needed to reassess co-branding relationships
  • Could be better served by a revamped corporate image

“It was a very methodical approach and well thought out in its execution, but it was also about pulling information from the right sources at the right time,” says Birkes of the process.

Since the brand audit is a benchmarking tool, Category5 came up with a design that conveyed the selling strategy in a graphic way, in the form of a visually compelling infographic. From this, “we could demonstrate quickly how we were being perceived and have the management team come to the same conclusion quickly,” she says.

“They didn’t make a decision for us, but gave us a forum to lead us in the decision-making process and got us on track to let us know what we needed to do,” Birkes adds.

Corporate Makeover

Since image goes a long way toward perception, and perception is everything, Category5 addressed Clifford Power’s image as the first phase of its core branding updates. First up was logo development.

Clifford Power’s original logo had some image problems of its own. It featured an inverted black triangle with a red script capital “C” superimposed over it. The upside-down black triangle is a historical symbol used in Nazi concentration camps to label prisoners as “asocial.” The color red in the power industry indicates something isn’t working.

Category5 designed a new logo that features a blue and black circuit loop. In the power industry, blue (and green) indicates “on.” Blue is also the color of trust. The blue half of the loop represents a “C,” for Clifford, and the black half of the loop indicates an abstract “P” for the Power portion of the name.

“The logo represents continuous power supply so our systems are set up to come on when utility power goes off,” Birkes explains.

This dovetails perfectly with Clifford Power’s main goal—to keep the power on. In fact, it’s critical for Clifford Power’s customers. In casinos, for example, “you know exactly how much money you’ll lose when the power goes off. And without power, you’re out the money, so you want a backup power system that can keep you up in the event of a power outage,” Birkes says.

Once the new logo was established, its design was then extended to individual applications such as fleet trucks, billboards, marketing materials and uniforms.

Within two months’ time, “we went from zero requests from our old website to close to 100 reach-outs, asking about generators.”
Dana Birkes, VP/Chief Marketing Officer


Standing Apart From the Crowd      

Clifford Power fulfills all needs for generator systems. It provides a continuum for anyone who has a generator, which means the company manages equipment for the life of the equipment, can rent generators, provide parts, the whole gamut.

The service side of the business is run completely by Clifford Power, however Waukesha, Wis.-based Generac is the manufacturer on the equipment side. For years, Clifford Power promoted Generac heavily and came to be branded as Generac. This sets Clifford Power up as a dealer only, not the total solution provider that it truly is.

After the brand audit, Category5 along with Birkes recognized that it was important to go to market as Clifford Power so the community becomes more familiar with the brand and it becomes the trusted brand.

A New Sales Model

The biggest investment to date for Clifford Power has been the website. Birkes says that Category5’s design was not the core function but understanding what sells and how to sell it using a fresh approach.

Before Category5’s redesign, the website was flat and static. “All it said was, ‘This is who we are,’ vs. a site that has tremendous power to capture information, to promote search engine optimization (SEO) and perform continuous updates,” Birkes says.

“To me the web and ubiquitousness of this will be the way business gets done. More people want to do business this way,” she adds.

Although the site launched in September 2014 with no promotion at all, within two months’ time “we went from zero requests from our old website to close to 100 reach-outs, asking about generators,” she says.

SEO is also yielding benefits. Year to date vs. the previous year, Clifford Power’s website traffic is up 30 percent, with no campaigns—just pure SEO.

By adding marketing automation, Clifford Power also enables salespeople to give customers what they really want. The new system allows for connection to Clifford Power’s own CRM system, launches automated email campaigns based on customer searches and provides regular customer updates, among other features.

Birkes says what Category5 has put in place is just the beginning. “We will continually update our website. We are considering a client portal to view history and service records, and we’re also contemplating a chat service so we can expand our sales pipeline. Those things are definitely going to make a difference,” Birkes says.

Overall, Birkes says with the help of Category5, Clifford Power is beginning to see the needle move toward the $100 million goal. “If you have a vendor who understands the industry, you are so far ahead of the game. When you work with Category5, you are truly working with a virtual marketing department and your own virtual CMO. They become such an integral part of your company. They go above and beyond to proactively impact your bottom line,” Birke says.

The rebranding efforts have made a critical impact in another key way as well. “Thanks to Category5, we’re going from being a commodity to being your trusted advisor,” she adds.

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