What does your corporate brand mean?

A clear and consistent corporate image is critical to the company’s competitive strategy, with Apple, Philips and Unilever knowing this. The corporate image is like the Polaris, representing the direction and goals, which can enhance the product image, help the company to recruit and retain talents, and protect the reputation of the company from damage during difficult times. But many companies don’t know how to articulate and communicate brand information to the public.

Take the Volvo Group, which is valued at 35 billion euros, for example. The company’s sales range includes trucks, buses, construction equipment, marine and industrial application drive systems. The company’s new CEO has decentralized management of the brands. In 2016, the company’s truck brands (Volvo Trucks, Mike Trucks, Renault Trucks and UD Trucks) were turned into independent departments, and the identity issue of the parent company became urgent. Because the company’s identity is unclear, the group is not sure how to strategically support sub-brands. It is difficult for new brand employees to understand the extended group mission, value and capabilities, or even know how to communicate and communicate with investors. Describe the relationship between your brand and the Volvo Group.

The Volvo Group clearly defines the identity and role of the company and the functions of the sub-brands through the process described below. After unifying these issues, the company has invested more in its brands, the market positioning is clearer, the group has a stronger sense of belonging, and it is more consistent in marketing and public communication.

The way to help the Volvo Group transform is that we have studied the results of a decade of research involving hundreds of executives around the world, from manufacturing, financial services and non-profit organizations. The core of the method is called the corporate brand identity matrix. We will show below how different companies can debug this approach in their respective fields, successfully define corporate identity, unify the various elements, and leverage their strengths.

What is a matrix?

Our framework has carefully designed a series of company-related issues to guide the executive team. Each question focuses on one element of corporate identity. There are nine elements in the matrix, which are divided into three layers: the bottom layer is the internal directivity element, the highest layer is the external directivity element, and the middle is the element that contains both the outer and the inner. Let’s analyze it layer by layer.

Internal elements. The foundation of the corporate brand image is the mission and vision of the company (incentives and participation), culture (reflecting employee ethics and work attitude), and expertise (unique ability). These are rooted in corporate values ​​and day-to-day operations.

External elements. The elements at the top of the matrix are the companies that they want customers and other external stakeholders to recognize themselves: value propositions, external relationships, and positioning. For example, Nike, I hope everyone sees him as a company that helps customers achieve their best. This goal has shaped the company’s products and services. The brand slogan of corporate marketing also reflects this point – “just do it” (Just Do it).

Contact internal and external elements. These elements include the personality of the business, the unique way of communicating and the “core of the brand” – what the brand stands for and the long-term values ​​behind the customer’s commitment. The matrix center is the core of the brand, that is, the essence of corporate identity. The Patagonia company is committed to providing the highest quality products and supporting and promoting environmental protection. Audi uses “breaking technology, inspiring the future (Vorsprung durch technik) to summarize its core brand. 3M company succinctly describes its core as “Science. Applied to life.”

If the corporate identity is coordinated, other elements will reflect and explain the core of the enterprise, echoing corporate values ​​and brand meaning. The core of the brand will shape the other eight elements.

Drawing each element

The following exercises can help companies determine whether their brand identity has been well integrated, and if not, it will highlight problems and opportunities for improvement, and help companies solve problems. Although individuals can take advantage of this process, they are most effective when used by the executive team.

First, you can choose one of the following nine elements to answer the relevant questions in the matrix. For example, if you start with a mission and vision, answer: “What makes us feel involved?” and “What is our direction and inspiration?” Use a short phrase, not a long story. Imitate the way Starbuck describes the mission:

“Inspire and nourish the human soul – start with a customer, a drink, a community.” Answering the questions in each box, the order is not important, don’t consider the relationship between them.

When we conduct matrix workshops, participants are advised to follow the following five guiding principles:

1. Strive for simplicity. Use the phrase in your answer as a title and tell the brand identity and story in a more specific language later.

2. Straightforward. Try not to use terminology and avoid complicating the answer. less is more. When describing the relationship, IKEA uses “Hello!” to reflect a pragmatic attitude that is consistent with the brand’s core values ​​in a simple word.

3. Find something unique. Look for words and concepts that can resonate in your organization, and let everyone agree that “this is what we say.” A real estate company said this when answering a personality question: “We refuse to be arrogant.” A new hotel in Oslo describes customer relationships like this: “Rock stars are guests in our eyes; guests are rock stars in our eyes.”

4. Stay true. Some elements of corporate identity may have been deeply rooted in the organization. Pay attention to the authenticity of the statement. Certain elements, if accepted by employees, may be motivating and bring changes to the company.

5. Seeking classics. Corporate brand identity should stand the test of time, just like a classic slogan of a watchmaker. “You never really have a Patek Philippe watch, you just keep it for future generations.” This sentence is rooted in history and forward-looking. , withstood the test of time.

The matrix of each company is different. In order to let everyone have a general concept, we take the above matrix as an example. This is our field research with Nobel. The Nobel laureate was elected by four independent institutions: the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the Swedish Caroline Medical School and the Swedish Academy. Each agency is responsible for different awards, each with its own identity and strategy, but the Nobel Foundation manages the bonus and has primary responsibility for maintaining the long-term reputation of the Nobel Prize. Our research and analysis identified the common ground of these institutions: rewarding the “the greatest benefit to mankind”, from Alfred Nobel. The will of the company eventually became the core of the brand and became the Nobel Prize’s institutional identity.

Various paths

After the team answers the questions of the nine elements, check to see if the answers can be integrated into one and complement each other. Arrange all the answers along the diagonal, vertical, and horizontal axes of the matrix to see if they are clear and consistent, with all three axes passing through the center of the brand. Each axis illustrates the organization of a different ability: the slash axis starting at the lower left corner emphasizes the ability to be strategically related, starting with the axis in the upper left corner and competing; the horizontal axis is communication and the vertical axis is interaction. If your business identity is clear, the elements of each axis will be coordinated. The stronger the connection on each axis, the more “stability” the matrix is. One of the team’s goals should be to seek maximum stability.

There is a way to determine the closeness of the contact. You can use these answers in the introduction to the corporate brand identity. The note summary is the manuscript outline. Ask yourself, is this outline plausible?

After analysis, few teams can integrate neatly on the four axes to form a stable matrix, and most of them will have loopholes or inconsistencies in the identified elements. The next task is to check the weak links and try to strengthen them.

For example, if an enterprise’s capabilities fail to support commitments and value propositions on the competitive axis, what capabilities do you need to develop? If the organizational culture and corporate value on the interactive axis are incompatible and cannot strengthen external relationships, can the company find the source of the problem with the help of the human resources department?

Building a stable matrix requires constant adjustment and iteration. In the end, the leadership team needs to make a unified interpretation of the corporate brand identity, so there will be a consistent and consistent presentation of the organization’s brand inside and outside the organization.

Application matrix

Enterprises use this matrix to solve a series of identity issues, such as clarifying the “child” brand relationship, reorganizing corporate brands to support new businesses, and enhancing the overall image of the company.

Strengthen the identity of the parent brand. The Finnish industrial group Cargotec operates cargo handling and has three globally renowned sub-brands: Hiab (a market leader in driving solutions), Kalmar (portal and terminal products and services leaders). And MacGregor, the leader in navigation. Ten years ago, the company’s parent brand was covered up by these well-known sub-brands. To solve this problem, the management decided to adopt the “same company” approach, integrate a service network around a corporate brand, and bundle all sub-brand logistics solutions for individual users.

The CEO of Cahors leads the project to support and enhance corporate branding and is aligned with the culture, values ​​and commitment of the sub-brands. First, the company organized 11 workshops, allowing a team of 110 managers to use the matrix to explain the various elements of the three sub-brand identity. After that, everyone gathered together to organize the aggregation framework of corporate brand identity.

In order to ensure that new identities are recognized, Cargoline conducts internal research (more than 3,000 employees) to test whether the redefined corporate branding elements are reasonable and consistent with the unified corporate and sub-brand identity vision. The company will share the new framework drawn by the workshop to all employees through the intranet, and look forward to your opinions. Another survey of customers and other external stakeholders also collected some opinions, and the company further adjusted the proposed card Gothic status based on the opinions.

Finally, Cargo and sub-brands agree on a common brand core: open commitment to “smarter goods flow, better every day” and values ​​”global business – localization services” “joining together” and “sustainable Outstanding performance”. One result of the strategy and brand reshaping project is that major global customers such as Maersk Line now have Cargo brand solutions including sub-brand products. The company also reinforces its focus on corporate branding in marketing and communications, such as the design of new trademarks and visual language.

Support business development. Headquartered in Sweden, Bona is a century-old store that has been focused on providing customers with products and services for installing and maintaining wood flooring. It has subsidiaries in more than 90 countries around the world.

In recent years, Bona has expanded its business, began selling marble and tile cleaning products, and developed a system for renovating vinyl flooring. These moves opened up a huge new market for the company and brought some problems to his positioning: How can a corporate brand known for its wood flooring expertise accommodate new business? The answer seems simple: in external communication, Bona can focus on the wood floor in the past to include new types of flooring. However, the executive team found that this opportunity can be used to make the corporate brand identity officially clear, and to accept the new positioning, while injecting new vitality into the tradition, both internally and externally.

Under the leadership of marketing executives at headquarters and the United States, the company convened a global network of managers and conducted a series of workshops in the United States and Europe. The first priority is to reach a consensus on the company’s existing brand identity. Everyone had a wide discussion, presented a variety of surprising points, and answered key questions in the matrix. After further discussion, we finally reached a consensus on these issues and summarized the brand identity of Bona.

Next, taking into account the company’s new products, technologies and market opportunities, especially new types of customers, these managers began to think about the brand identity that the company is trying to achieve in the future. The team changed the brand promise to “show the most beautiful side of the floor”, and the new mission is also unified: “Create beautiful floors and bring happiness to people’s lives”.

In order to promote new identities within the company, Bona and employees talked about this issue, encouraged everyone to participate in the discussion, prepared a welcome plan for new employees, and emphasized the matrix value of the revised version.

For external stakeholders, Bona has set up new communication projects for consumers and Bona-certified craftsman partners, introducing lifestyle trends related to floor decoration and design, redesigning the website, and developing a vinyl floor renovation system. Marketing plan. However, it takes time to integrate the revised brand identity into internal and external projects. Bona’s process began 21 months ago and is still in progress. Every time progress is made, the company will adjust and modify it with reference to the new matrix.

Change the brand image. European company Intrum provides debt recovery services for companies, providing assistance in invoicing, accounts receivable and debt management, and credit monitoring. By 2014, the company has expanded rapidly through mergers and acquisitions, and management believes that the company should have an overall image in terms of value proposition. This is very important. The management of the company also worried that as a debt collection agency, the company’s image is negative and its self-impression is negative. It is hoped that some positive factors will be injected into the image of the financial service provider. As a result, Intrum spent three years inviting management teams from 24 countries to create an improved version of the new identity at the Stockholm School of Economics through our matrix to help the group improve its performance. The program is led by senior human resources director Jean-Luc Ferraton.

More than 200 managers are involved in this project. The company’s vague slogan (“Promoting European Development”) was revised to “go to a healthy economy”, which is more representative of the company’s commitment. The core values ​​that managers believe are “useless” are abandoned. Intrum’s mission has also been more positively interpreted. What is the company pursuing now? “Providing or receiving companies that the lenders trust and respect. Our solutions can bring growth and help you get rid of debt, providing value to individuals, companies and society.” Managers’ discussion of the new mission allows Filaton I can’t help but comment. “I believe that when you were young, you didn’t dream of working in the current industry. But I listen to everyone telling about their work, the company, and what we are actually doing. I am proud of my work here.”

Intrum tracks the implementation of new brand identities by calculating employee and customer satisfaction, employee engagement, leadership attitudes, and corporate brand core values. Internal and external research shows that the company’s overall indicators have increased by 15% in the past three years.

Cases from Cargo, Bona and Intrum show three ways in which companies use brand identity matrices. But the actual application method is not limited to these three. A private equity chairman uses this matrix to quantify the strategic value of mergers and acquisitions and investment candidates. Matrix helped the traditional paint company FaluR founded in 1764? Df? Rg’s CEO clarifies the company’s brand identity and competitive positioning by emphasizing the company’s unique heritage and difficult-to-impersonate skills.