U.S. Minerals produces high quality slag products for the roofing and abrasives industry that allow customers to prepare a surface for its first application of paint, restore a decades-old, weathered surface to its former glory, or blast nearly any surface to the target profile and finish.

Coal, copper, and specialty abrasives produced by U.S. Minerals are marketed, packaged, and sold as Black Diamond Abrasives, an endorsed brand. Black Diamond Abrasive Products are manufactured throughout the United States and available in the widest standard gradations in the industry. They are sold by distributors, in retail locations, and at U.S. Minerals plants.

The Challenge

In 2021, U.S. Minerals began developing a “beneficial reuse program.” It would be the first service U.S. Minerals offered, adding an element of differentiation from competitors that only sold products. The beneficial reuse program would allow customers to proactively address the spent abrasive slag waste that is inevitably produced on the job site every time their product is used to blast old paint and rust off of surfaces in order to restore them.

In the absence of this kind of service, surface preparation companies had to gather the spent abrasives themselves and transport them to a landfill. Customers incurred associated costs, spent additional time, and exposed their employees as well as the local environment to
harmful impact.

Red Caffeine was asked to consult on the creation of a new service brand that fit within the existing U.S. Minerals brand architecture. The brand development also involved naming the beneficial reuse program, designing a new logo with complementary brand colors, and crafting messaging that positioned the service in the market and included a distinguishable tagline.

As we developed the new brand, we were also asked to think about the best way to introduce the service to existing customers that qualified as well as the larger market throughout the Central United States.

The RC Solution

The two-fold challenge required our team to understand U.S. Minerals’ strategic intent, its customers’ pain points, the value of the new offering, and the larger positioning opportunity within the industry.

As a standard Red Caffeine best practice, we began with research: industry research to determine the new program’s competitive landscape; market research to better understand the challenges facing surface prep companies; and patent/trademark availability research to validate or eliminate early name, tagline, and URL concepts. We also dug deeply into the way the program would work, the improved future state it would make possible, and the many audiences that would eventually benefit.

Initial concepts focused on the circular nature of resource reuse programs like the innocuous Reduce, Reuse, Recycle campaigns now commonplace nationwide. Additional evolutions included the financial, environmental, and operational benefits the program promised. But, the common thread that ran through each aspect of the program was protection. protect your budget. protect your time. protect your company (from liability issues). protect your employees. protect your environment.

This thinking led us to create PROTECT™, an Abrasives Management Program by U.S. Minerals.

Visually, our design team scripted PROTECT™ in all caps to establish the term as a service offering rather than a verb. We introduced a vibrant green color to the U.S. Minerals palette, a nod to PROTECT™’s environmental benefits. Inside the “O” we introduced a shield, the definitive symbol of PROTECT™ion. Within the shield, we incorporated the Black Diamond Abrasives branded diamond icon, originating from the coal source of the abrasive materials. We
architected PROTECT™ as an endorsed brand, always to be connected with the parent company, U.S. Minerals. Finally, we landed on a simple, yet all-encompassing tagline: PROTECT™ what matters most.

Alongside the visual and verbal aspects of the PROTECT™ brand, we positioned the program as
a proactive and responsible initiative for companies interested in expressing their commitment to environmental responsibility, worker safety, reduced liability risk, and of course time and
money savings.

PROTECT™ was subtly rolled out as part of a new booth design for the Association for Materials PROTECT™ion and Performance (AMPP) Annual Conference + Expo, the leading industry trade show in order to generate buzz and test out early FAQs in the market. The visual brand was the central piece in a wrapped design for the company’s tanker trucks, creating curiosity everywhere U.S. Minerals delivered its product.

For all our efforts to explain PROTECT™ as “a simple 4-step process” implementing an initiative like this is fairly complex. Given the C-Suite buy-in required for PROTECT™, we targeted a small number of qualified companies and several of the key decision-makers within as part of a multi-channel account-based marketing (ABM) campaign to raise brand awareness, increase understanding of the program, build internal support for it, and ultimately to drive adoption.

To identify the appropriate target audience for the ABM campaign, we worked with the U.S. Minerals sales team, leveraging Netsuite, LinkedIn, and Seamless.ai. Over a 28-day period, contacts received a four-email sequence, introducing PROTECT™, explaining the features and benefits, driving their attention to a dedicated landing page, and ultimately inviting them to a webinar highlighting customers’ early adoption and successful results. Contacts were also directed along this journey originating from LinkedIn ads and organic posts. Contacts that visited the webinar landing page but did not register were served digital retargeting ads off-site.

The Highlights:

  • A complete brand that includes a new service name, logo, colors, tagline, strategic messaging, and positioning.
  • A recorded webinar introducing PROTECT™, explaining the adoption process, and answering FAQs.
  • Competitive research and stakeholder interviews to inform future positioning and messaging.

Kathy Steele


Meet The Author

I am passionate about people, obsessed with helping businesses grow, and love to support the underdog cause in my community. As a business leader, I'm an educated risk-taker who persevered through challenging economic conditions and a business divorce to be a two-time honoree on Inc. Magazines Annual List of America's Fastest-Growing Private Companies.

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