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Case: DSM 2011



THE STORY

It's hard to find a more comprehensively planned and confidently launched rebranding than this one, used by a leader to consolidate and communicate change. 

In 2007, when Feike Sijbesma became its CEO, DSM was "an inward-looking chemical company; gray, very Dutch, and compared to the DuPonts and BASFs, a minor player," according to Jos van Haastrecht, Director of Company Branding.   Sijbesma led a comprehensive corporate restructuring, to focus more narrowly on two higher-margin growth segments, Life Sciences and Materials Sciences, in which DSM could more credibly aspire to leadership positions (a change, in effect, of industry definition).  Twelve business units, generically named and now monolithically DSM-branded, are grouped in four clusters, whose names become the company's defining competence list -- Nutrition, Pharma, Performance Materials and Polymer Intermediates.

Restructuring was accompanied by a sweeping cultural initiative, "the DSM Change Agenda," to instill desired behaviors and values (such as external focus, accountability, diversity, inspirational leadership, and unification) in support of a new common societal mission "to create brighter lives for people today and for generations to come."

CEO Sijbesma understood that restructuring, without rebranding, may be tentative and incomplete (because seeing is believing; change which can be seen is more certain).  He asked Angelique Paulussen, SVP Corporate Communications, to lead his rebranding team, assisted by Branding Director Jos van Haastrecht (for whom this was a full-time 30-month assignment). The program team chose Coley Porter Bell, identity specialists within Ogilvy's London office, for identity and creative counsel. Their contributions included
- The logo, featuring an abstract symbol whose color-toned forms swirl around a hexagon-shaped void
- A visual system whose color palette and shapes directly extend the logo's graphic presence
- Type families (Meta-Pro and Trebuchet)
- Both an identity tag, "Health-Nutrition-Materials,"
- And a theme line... "Bright Science. Brighter Living."

"The logo is bright, colorful and modern," says DSM's news release, "and the multitude of overlapping colors highlights our diversity and our unique combination of skills and expertise" ... "The blue colors are drawn from the heritage of the company and are important to retain a sense of confidence, credibility and trust. They are combined with fresh, vibrant colors to add an optimistic, emotive and energetic spirit."

Launch messaging makes it clear that the rebranding is seen by DSM as the culminating act of its entire transformation process. "Identity, strategy, culture all these come together in our new brand it is one of our most important tools supporting our corporate strategy.  For our internal community, the new brand will serve as a binding force."

The launch was unusually aggressive. On 16 February, 23,000 employees worldwide received special-event invitations. They saw a 45-minute film in which a fictional reporter travelled the world to investigate the DSM story; then they each received a copy of "Global Times," the resulting publication, to take home with them. Employees were further impressed, a week later, when they saw the public campaign (by McCann Erickson) launched with large-space ads in newspapers and business journals worldwide, backed up with outdoor billboards and posters in major airports.

In sum, this identity program applies the full set of visual tools plus tag lines, signature system, industry definition and competence list, a behavioural change "agenda" and a high-visibility change event, to a broad spectrum of strategic purposes. Company Branding Director van Haastrecht concurs with the driver weightings below.  


CREDITS

Coley Porter Bell


CASE INFO

Submitted by: Tony Spaeth, 15/03/2011
Status: Confirmed by Jos van Haastrecht, Dir. Company Branding, 9 March 2001
Category: Chemicals
Country (HQ): Netherlands


MATRIX DATA

DRIVERS

  

TOOLS

Strategic driver: 100%   
Change direction
  Redefine industry or core competence
 20%  x  Identifier tactics: Logo change: Symbol-dominant
    x  Identity system elements: Verbal elements: Tag lines
    x  Situation facts: Corporate level facts: Industry definition
    x  Situation facts: Subcorporate facts: Competence list
    x  Change event : High visibility: Campaign
    x  Situation facts: Corporate level facts: Employee behaviour
Broaden scope/scale/visibility
  Elevate public profile
 15%  x  Identifier tactics: Logo change: Symbol-dominant
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Typography
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Graphic devices
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Palette
    x  Identity system elements: Verbal elements: Tag lines
    x  Identity system elements: Unit signature system: Monolithic
    x  Change event : High visibility: Campaign
    x  Situation facts: Corporate level facts: Employee behaviour
Narrow the scope
  Express a more specific focus
 10%  x  Identity system elements: Verbal elements: Tag lines
    x  Situation facts: Corporate level facts: Industry definition
    x  Change event : High visibility: Campaign
Change internal culture
  Enhance pride & confidence
 20%  x  Identifier tactics: Logo change: Symbol-dominant
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Typography
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Graphic devices
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Palette
    x  Identity system elements: Verbal elements: Tag lines
    x  Identity system elements: Unit signature system: Monolithic
    x  Change event : High visibility: Campaign
    x  Situation facts: Corporate level facts: Employee behaviour
Change internal culture
  Transfer affiliation from unit to parent
 10%  x  Identifier tactics: Logo change: Symbol-dominant
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Typography
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Graphic devices
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Palette
    x  Identity system elements: Unit signature system: Monolithic
    x  Situation facts: Corporate level facts: Industry definition
    x  Situation facts: Subcorporate facts: Competence list
    x  Change event : High visibility: Campaign
    x  Situation facts: Corporate level facts: Employee behaviour
Change expressed personality
  Renew/refresh public image
 15%  x  Identifier tactics: Logo change: Symbol-dominant
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Typography
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Graphic devices
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Palette
    x  Identity system elements: Verbal elements: Tag lines
    x  Identity system elements: Unit signature system: Monolithic
    x  Situation facts: Corporate level facts: Industry definition
    x  Change event : High visibility: Campaign
Change perceived composition
  Modify parental 'umbrella' presence
 10%  x  Identifier tactics: Logo change: Symbol-dominant
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Typography
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Graphic devices
    x  Identity system elements: Visual system: Palette
    x  Identity system elements: Unit signature system: Monolithic
    x  Situation facts: Subcorporate facts: Competence list
    x  Change event : High visibility: Campaign
    x  Situation facts: Corporate level facts: Employee behaviour