How Willard Marine's Rebranding Made Waves

Willard Marine builds some of the toughest boats on the planet. Headquartered in Anaheim, California, they provide watercraft that professionals can trust with their lives. Since their 1957 founding, Willard has primarily focused on building military watercraft for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, along with SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) boats.

But more recently they’ve expanded their offerings to include law enforcement boats like patrol and first responder craft. Partly because of this new shift in focus, Willard wanted to update their brand to better align with their growth strategy – without alienating their core customer base.

So Rhythm answered the call.

Just like a boat, it takes more than a fresh coat of paint to make a new brand float. To create a quality rebranding foundation, we began by performing extensive discovery and research through brand workshops with Willard’s leadership, employees and customers.

The insights gained from these sessions helped us identify unique brand attributes that formed the basis for Willard’s internal brand expressions including new mission, vision and purpose statements, as well as a company manifesto. We also used these sessions to help uncover and develop Willard’s brand personality, ensuring that the company displays a consistent voice and tone in all future internal and external communications.

With a strong brand foundation in place, the next step was to completely redesign Willard’s logo.

It was our goal to present an updated image of quality, strength and dependability. We did so by crafting the “W” in Willard into the form of a ship’s hull slicing through the water. This sleek design gives the logo a strong and modern look that also conveys a sense of action and purpose. The finishing touch was the addition of a star, which symbolizes accomplishment and underscores the “proven” tagline.

Willard’s old logo (bottom left) had become outdated and no longer reflected the company’s core values and competencies. The new logo (bottom right) rectifies those shortcomings by projecting a modern, aspirational image.

After the new identity proved more than seaworthy, we created a brand expression guide to ensure that Willard’s new verbals (voice and tone) and visuals (logo, images, fonts and colors) are always applied correctly in every application – from online and social to print and broadcast.

And last but not least, we gave Willard’s outdated web presence a significant refresh by incorporating the new visuals and brand language. The result is a fully responsive website that’s both easy on the eyes and easy to navigate from a desktop or smartphone.

It features a prominent hero image that creates visual interest and draws visitors deeper into the site. The header navigation makes it a breeze to quickly locate specific boat types and applications. And well-placed calls-to-action drive users to request a quote, contact Willard’s bi-coastal service locations, or join the “Willard Waypoint” quarterly newsletter.

So did Willard rebound from the rebrand?

Let’s just say their new look is making some serious waves. Not only have they made significant inroads in the law enforcement market, they’ve further solidified their standing as the boat of choice for commercial and military mariners worldwide.

And because of the expertise of Rhythm’s SEO team, Willard’s optimized website has been experiencing phenomenal post-launch success, including a 21% increase in organic traffic, a 55% increase in mobile traffic, and a 370% increase in social media traffic.








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