Leopold Ketel to Resharpen Benchmade Branding

LOS ANGELES The Benchmade Knife Co. has named Leopold Ketel & Partners as its strategic positioning and brand-marketing agency, the shop said.

Benchmade, a 15-year-old cutlery manufacturer, initially tapped Leopold Ketel in January to work on a branding study, said Greg Mooney, vice president of sales and marketing for the client in Oregon City, Ore. At the time, Benchmade had conversations with several branding agencies, including Addison Whitney in Charlotte, N.C., Directions Marketing in Portland, Ore., and Girvin in Seattle, he said. Leopold Ketel in Portland was selected because it was local and because agency executives “made a strong case for their branding background,” Mooney said.

The project concluded in April. Benchmade, which has done little marketing through its in-house staff, decided to expand its relationship with Leopold Ketel due to a planned repositioning. The company initially had a military and law enforcement customer base, but has moved into custom-designed knives and is preparing to introduce some lower-priced offerings, said Mooney. “We were worried that if we go down in price, what would the company look like and would we call it something different?” he said.

After determining brand positioning for Benchmade, Leopold Ketel will handle package design, advertising, public relations and some collateral development, said agency president and partner John Russell.

“We’re taking a good look at what they’ve been for the last couple of years and finding a more correct and authentic position for them,” Russell said. “They are thought of as the Porsche of knives, and we realized they need to be more specific about that positioning within the industry.”

Billings have not yet been determined, according to the client and agency.

Leopold Ketel claims capitalized billings of $12 million. In addition to Benchmade, 2003 wins for the shop include LibertyBank and Microsoft, for which the shop is handling a strategic consulting project.