Case Study


How addressing human needs creates a refreshed, agile brand


Cousilman Hunsaker

The Problem:

Leadership and Identity

Our Role:

Re-envisioning their culture through Evaporation and Substancing.


Recalibrated the core brand values and narratives, created cultural alignment and increased the refreshed brand's influence in a crowded marketplace.


  • Recalibrated the core brand values and narratives for an established and influential company.
  • Created cultural alignment around the new vision and new direction of the brand.
  • Increased the refreshed brand’s influence in a crowded marketplace.


Back in the late 60s, Doc Counsilman, a beloved Olympic swimmer and head swimming coach at Indiana University, began to see the need for more standards for the pool and aquatics industry. At the time, nearly anyone who could dig a hole in the ground could call themselves an aquatics firm. He and Joe Hunsaker formed Counsilman-Hunsaker, an aquatics engineering and design/build firm, in 1970 with an audacious vision to create the gold standard for their industry. The founders’ vision quickly became realized. For the years that followed, Counsilman-Hunsaker was among the most recognized brands for their engineering prowess and their level of expertise. However as the years went on, leadership began to notice that nearly all aquatics design/build firms were using the same talking points. Their identity that once made them unique now made them one of many.

Counsilman-Hunsaker leadership engaged Bigwidesky to work on creating new core brand values as well as to develop an initial marketing plan.

This new articulation of the brand had to be all-at-once inclusive of the legacy, authentic to the organization and compelling enough to allow them to stand out.

What We Did

The first place our team started when attacking this issue was discovering the deep human needs that the company now serves. What we were after were the core, transcendental properties of the brand — something deeper than the mechanical creation of pools. And we started this process by conducting thorough anthropology of the brand story, legacy and where it had been.

Next, we facilitated a way in which we could create a culture that would support the new brand by allowing them to co-create with us. Any vision that includes change must also take into account the multiple ways that every stakeholder in that change looks forward. Through Evaporation™, our proprietary design- futures based exercise, we articulated the principles that would ensure each stakeholder in the change was heard.

For the bulk of the work in determining the brand’s articulation, we used Substancing™, a discovery tool we developed based on brand theory, design futures philosophies and human developmental psychology. Through Substancing™, we were able to create the visceral, human foundational language for the brand — its intention, behavior, impact and worldview.

The results of the Substancing™ revealed something inspiring.

Even though Counsilman- Hunsaker is made up nearly entirely of engineers and systems thinkers, they found their real purpose was to “awaken all people to the transformative power of aquatics.” This was a compelling, transcendental reason to exist. And it was nothing like their old features-and- benefits statements that the competition had started to use.

Substance Model

Counsilman-Hunsaker Substancing

These statements were unifying to the culture and agile enough to fit any changes in the market or industry. Bigwidesky used them as the basis for a rebranding effort. The first step of which is a cultural integration. Nothing sustaining can be accomplished if there is not first alignment of the carriers of the new brand. Next, we re-examined the brand elements — logo, tagline and messaging platform. Each were modified based upon the Evaporation™, Substancing™ and the cultural input from Counsilman-Hunsaker.

Bigwidesky designed and developed Counsilman-Hunsaker’s website.


Counsilman-Hunsaker now has a unifying brand story that is inclusive of their powerful legacy. They are still growing sales in a more competitive marketplace. The degree of their influence is most recently reflected in their partnership with American Red Cross in creating new industry and safety standards.

Counsilman-Hunsaker Website