The Rebranding of Sabian
Rebranding of Sabian. The relaunch of a great brand.
Sabian rebranding. Now, a new brand for musicians.
If you don’t know Sabian, then you are not a drummer. If you don’t know Andy Zildjian… well, you’re simply not a lucky guy.
I’m not a drummer and, until last year, I did not know Andy Zildjian, Mark Love, Stacey Montgomery-Clark, Dom Famularo, Charlie, Dwight or Mike Connell. But I now know the Sabian brand inside and out. And I have been lucky enough to hang out with the gang and meet any of the eclectic associates at the company Robert Zildjian founded many years back in Meductic, New Brunswick Canada.
If you know the history of the world’s best cymbals, you certainly know Andy’s last name. His family damn near invented the art of cymbal making. Andy’s Armenian heritage and Turkish connections are obvious. The rebranding of Sabian was a worthy endeavor.
Why the rebranding of Sabian? Was the business in trouble?
Nope. The brand and business were healthy. Since Robert split with his brother many years ago, Sabian rose to be the second biggest cymbal maker in the world. Despite all odds.
Not a single drummer worth his salt does not own (or should own) a Sabian cymbal. Sabian represents the finest in the world.
The rebranding of Sabian, however, represents more of a movement than a business. Sabian wants – no needs – to get a set of their hand-hammered cymbals into the hands of those that MAKE music. Yep, that’s right, I said hand-hammered.
A business rather than a fever pitched movement would have abandoned hand-hammering a long time ago. It represents a business inefficiency that an ordinary CFO would have stopped on day one.
Oh, by the way, the Sabian CFO is not ordinary.
Mike is an avid bicyclist and a no-harm fly fisherman. Only someone who practices tirelessly tying his own flies as an art form and returns EVERY salmon he hooks back into the river has the qualifications to be CFO of an art studio like Sabian.
Plus, Mark Love, an artist’s vision of an engineer would know the differences between cymbals that are hand hammered and those that are not. NOTHING leaves the Sabian vault until Mark is in love. Under his watch, R&D is an artistic endeavor.
The other big players in cymbals abandoned hand hammering some years ago. Many thought hand hammering did not make business sense. But Sabian believes that you make the best cymbals you can, and success will follow.
Sabian hired us to grow market share
The Sabian rebranding (brand repositioning) effort represents everything Stealing Share knows about rebranding. When you have the best product in the category then your brand needs to reflect that truth.
We knew that when rebranding Sabian we needed to be as REAL as its cymbals. We did not need to create something new. Just clear away the clutter. Let the brand reflect the musicians that need and love it.
Research. Research. And more research.
Sabian is a global company.
It is a major player everywhere. If an Antarctic researcher brings a drum kit with him, then I can safely say drummers covet Sabian on all seven continents.
We conducted quantitative research all over the globe. We asked questions of drummers, instructors, resellers, retailers and distributors. Each relies on the others for availability and recommendations.
The rebranding of Sabian needs to reflect all target audiences. A brand worthy of the metal (pun intended) had to recognize the customer and prospect for who THEY are when they PLAY Sabian.
All the competition, and I mean all, focuses its marketing efforts on promoting themselves and cymbals. The self-reflection of the user is nowhere.
The rebranding of Sabian was an easy sell
Did I mention that most everyone at Sabian is already a drummer? They own a musician’s mentality. They understand what it means to project your identity on the instrument you play.
Self-identification? Yup. Sabian knew exactly what we meant. For Sabian, it is ALWAYS about the sound. The cymbal is simply the middle man. Albeit the best middle man in the business.
So Sabian wanted to know all about the drummer— right from get go. The research allows them to speak honestly to drummers. No marketing speak. Just the language that drummers know and love.
Sabian rebranding research
Sometimes research surprises you. Sometimes it leaves you slapping your head and saying, “Of course!”
A few key learnings from the research. Retailers are also musicians (Andy— “duh”). And they believe they are a little unhinged (proudly).
Andy and the rest at Sabian got that immediately.
No need for a name change. Sabian, the letters representing the first names of Andy’s siblings, was not a brand in need of repair. It needed a face lift. Something that spoke to the core beliefs of the brand. We did not have to create those beliefs. We just had to reaffirm them.
The old brand logo was all about the product. The mark represented cymbals and the font, according to Andy Zildjian, was Flintstone like.
We saved the equity of the mark but refocused it to represent what Sabian believed— it’s all about the music.
A Sabian signature, not a Sabian logo
When we created the logo itself, we purposefully created a signature not a stamped logo. The rebranding of Sabian represents an artist’s proud signature. A work of art worthy of its mettle.
Our creative team drew the letters. There is no font called Sabian. But, like Picasso, every Sabian creation is art. We gave Sabian the ability to sign all its cymbals.
The Sabian rebranding language
The language needed to be original to the artists. Spoken word and unapologetic. Those were the guideposts to rebranding Sabian.
When the brand was relaunched at NAMM this year, the Sabian booth retained its famed wall of cymbals. But it did not hide in the field of brass, bronze and secret metals. (Andy told us he would have to kill us if he shared the metallurgy.)
Sabian sang. And it proclaimed loudly that “just like the drummers who played it,” Sabian was unbound.
We even challenged the popularity of other brands by stating that “some don’t get it.” It is a challenge to all drummers that the most popular CAN’T be distinctive. If you create your own sound, you should choose cymbals that are as unique as drummers.
Sabian rebranding. More than a logo.
Sabian is a belief system. It is an attitude and a way of life. The new brand helps Sabian focus on its core principles.
Those principles are reflected in language and attitude. It is unbounded and unhinged. Free to be itself in a world of pretenders to the throne. Sabian is indeed unbound.
How good is Stealing Share?
Great. We choose our clients well. UNBOUND.
— By Tom Dougherty, Stealing Share President & CEO