I work as an independent and specialized brand strategy consultant and advisor. My focus is on the management of brands.
My key areas:
Defining brand identity and position: Defining, describing and aligning the identity of the brand (product, service, and/or corporate or a combination thereof)
Defining core values and promise: The basis for internal behavior and external positioning and reputation
Brand strategy: Linking business strategy with brand strategy. Brand portfolio, brand policy, brand books, and strategic brand management.
Value foundations: Uncover, develop and refine, define, and review the values of the brand
Living the brand: Implementation and building internal commitment
I believe in working closely with my clients. In a typical process, I work with the process team and its leader. I bring my frameworks, models and structures, expertise, and experience to the process. I always try to avoid “black boxes” by proceeding step by step. This way, the team not only arrives at a result but also has a deeper understanding of the questions involved. This is vital for the implementation and commitment within the organization.
Help in the decision-making process:
These projects are often shorter and require intense and rapid involvement and have a defined issue to resolve, e.g. a name change, use of a sub-brand, brand extension, “second opinion” on a critical issue, participation in a discussion as a neutral and independent expert.
Analysis, process, and recommendation:
Projects involving a process leading up to a recommendation, e.g. developing/reviewing a brand platform, help in formulating a brief to an agency, brand identity, brand core values and promise, brand transfers, sizing of portfolio of brands.
Analysis, process, recommendation, and implementation:
Projects also including working more broadly and deeply with the organization, e.g. brand policy, brand book, training programs, “living the brand”, writing a case study for internal training, evaluations and measurements.
The Finnish industrial group Cargotec, which is in the cargo-handling business, has three well-known international daughter brands: Hiab (the market leader in on-road solutions), Kalmar (the leader in port and terminal products and services), and MacGregor (the leader in the marine segment).
A decade ago the mother brand was eclipsed by these high-profile daughters. To address this, management decided to pursue a “one company” approach, centered on the corporate brand, integrating its service networks and bundling the daughters’ logistics solutions for individual customers. Cargotec’s CEO led the initiative to bolster and elevate the corporate brand and align it with its daughters’ cultures, values, and promises.
First, the firm held 11 workshops in which a team of 110 managers used the matrix to articulate the individual elements of the three daughter brands’ identities. Then everyone gathered in a plenary session to develop an aggregated framework for the corporate brand identity. To confirm the legitimacy of the new identity and get buy-in, Cargotec involved employees, sending out an internal survey (completed by more than 3,000 workers) that tested the validity of the proposed elements of the redefined corporate brand. Did they fit with the vision of aligned corporate and daughter brand identities? The new frameworks from the workshops were shared with everyone on the corporate intranet, soliciting input. An external survey of customers and other stakeholders provided additional input and led to further adjustments to the proposed Cargotec identity.
At the end of the process, Cargotec and its daughter brands had agreed on a shared brand core: the stated promise “Smarter cargo flow for a better everyday
” and the values “global presence—local service,” “working together,” and “sustainable performance.” One result of the strategic and rebranding initiatives is that major international customers, such as Maersk Line, are now offered Cargotec-branded solutions integrated with products from the daughters. The company has also strengthened its focus on the corporate brand in its marketing and communications—for instance, by developing a new logo and visual language.
Bona is a century- old company that has long specialized in products and services for installing and maintaining wood floors. Based in Sweden, it operates in more than 90 countries. In recent years Bona expanded its offerings to include stone-and tile-cleaning products and developed a new system for renovating vinyl-type floors. These moves opened significant growth markets for the company but also raised a question about its positioning: How should a corporate brand that was known worldwide for wood-floor expertise change to accommodate the new businesses?
On the surface the answer seemed simple: In its messaging Bona could just shift from its historical emphasis on wood floors to include other kinds of floors. But the executive team saw an opportunity to formally clarify the corporate brand identity, recommitting to its heritage while embracing a new positioning—inside and out.
Led by marketing executives from headquarters and America, the company conducted a series of workshops in both Europe and the United States that brought together managers from across functions and around the globe. The first task was to reach a common understanding of the company’s current identity. Extensive discussion revealed a surprisingly broad variety of perspectives and answers to key questions in the matrix. But through further talks, consensus on those questions was eventually achieved, capturing Bona’s corporate brand identity as it stood then. Next, these managers set out to develop an aspirational corporate brand identity, considering the firm’s new products, technologies, and market opportunities—and in particular, new kinds of customers. The group modified the brand promise to “Bringing out the beauty in floors,” aligning it with the newly articulated mission: “Creating beautiful floors to bring happiness to people’s lives.”
To bring the revamped identity to life inside the company, Bona held dialogues about it with employees, encouraging discussion, and created a welcome program for new staffers that emphasized the values in the revised matrix. For its outside stakeholders it created new communication programs about lifestyle trends relevant to floor decoration and design, directed at consumers and at Bona’s certified craftsmen partners; launched a website redesign; and set up a marketing program introducing its vinyl-floor renovation system. Translating a revised brand narrative into internal and external initiatives takes time, however; at Bona the process is under way, with progress being benchmarked against the new aspirational matrix.
The European company Intrum provides debt collection services to businesses and helps them with invoicing, receivables and debt management, and credit monitoring. By 2014 the company had grown rapidly through acquisitions, and management considered it essential to have a common view across the organization about what Intrum stood for. Its leadership was also concerned that company had a negative image—and self-image— as a collection agency and wanted to give it a more positive identity as a provider of financial services.
So over three years Intrum invited management teams from 24 countries to take part in a program, held at the Stockholm School of Economics, that used our matrix to work out a new, improved identity that would enhance the group’s performance. That initiative was led by the senior HR executive Jean-Luc Ferraton. With input from 200 managers, Intrum’s vague tagline (“Boosting Europe”) was revised to “Leading the way to a sound economy,” which underscored the company’s brand promise. A core value challenged by managers as “fluff” was dropped. Intrum’s mission was reformulated to be more positive. What does the company aspire to now? “To be trusted and respected by everyone who provides or receives
credit. With solutions that generate growth while helping people become debt-free, we build value for individuals, companies and society.”
The managers’ discussion of the new mission inspired Ferraton to comment, “I’m sure that none of us dreamt as kids of working in our line of business. But when I hear how you describe your job, our company, and what we actually do, I am proud to work here.” Intrum tracks the implementation of the new brand identity by measuring employee and customer satisfaction, employee engagement, attitudes about leadership, and the adoption of the corporate brand’s core values. Its internal and external surveys reveal an overall improvement of 15% on these measures over the past three years.
The Nobel Prize, Cape Town University
Brand orientation, Copenhagen Business School
Business-to-business annual conference, Stockholm
Corporate branding in business-to-business, Helsingfors
Brand Leadership Summit, Mölle Sweden
International Corporate Identity Group (ICIG), Edinburgh
Corporate Identity and Branding Identity Symposium, London
Swedish Academy, Annual meeting Stockholm
The rhetoric of the brand, ESADE Barcelona
Castellum [real-estate], “Corporate reputation”, Gothenburg
Thule Brand Academy, “Creating Brand Value”, Perstorp
Cargotec, ”Corporate Branding” (Webcast for top 300 managers)
Metso, ”Corporate Brand Training”, New Dehli, Shanghai, and Beijing
Volvo Business Program, Stockholm School of Economics Executive Education, Switzerland and Brazil
Trelleborg Corporate Brand Program, “Brand transfer”. Trelleborg
Akzo Nobel, “Brand Management” Amsterdam (with prof. J-N Kapferer)
Ericsson, “Branding in the telecom business”, Lund
Volvo Group, “The brand as a competitive tool”, Gothenburg
Bergen Business School, “Merkevareskolen”, Bergen, Norway. Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration,
Executive Education in Lund (EFL), Sweden
Stockholm School of Economics Executive Ed., Russia (SSE), St Petersburg & Moscow