Corporate versus product branding
An Akzo Nobel case study

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Page 2: Core purpose and values

Akzo Nobel 3 Image 2Akzo Nobel recognises that much of its strength lies in its diversity and therefore it seeks to channel this diversity in a positive direction to enhance the corporate branding of the company. The core purpose of the organisation has been established as: ‘diversity as core competence.’

In practice, this means avoiding a centralised, hierarchical management structure in favour of a balance between freedom and structure, so that all participants are able to work in partnership, with ownership of the business. The core values of the company are:

  • people focus
  • opportunity driven
  • customer/market orientation
  • technology driven
  • socially responsible.

The net effect is to create a core spirit for the organisation, based on fun, pride and respect.

Developing a ‘golden thread’

Akzo Nobel 3 Image 3Akzo Nobel is seeking a ‘golden thread’ to enable the individual parts of the organisation to benefit from joint ownership of a shared vision. The need for a company-wide feeling – the basis for a strong corporate identity – is becoming increasingly important in a society based on increasing individualisation. It is not surprising that companies that have created such individuality (e.g. Sony and Virgin) are considered to be at the top of the league in their line of business. Some of the basic elements of Akzo Nobel’s Company (Mission) Statement are:

  • We will focus our efforts on the success of our customer.
  • We will provide competitive returns on our shareholders’ investments.
  • We will create an attractive working environment for our employees.
  • We will conduct our activities in a socially responsible manner.

The ambition of the company is:

“to be the first choice of customers, shareholders and employees, and to be a respected member of society.”

The prime symbol expressing this vision and ambition is the corporate brand. However, to ensure that Akzo Nobel employees are committed to the ‘golden thread,’ it has been necessary to enhance communication within the organisation - based on both top-down and bottom-up communication links.

Above all, Akzo Nobel believes in the importance of building on its existing diversity while at the same time trying to create a shared set of values. The image which the company likes to paint is that of a ‘salad bowl’ where each element adds its distinctive flavour to the benefit of the whole. Looking to the future, Akzo Nobel is seeking to:

  • establish collective responsibility for the corporate brand
  • ensure everyone understands what the company stands for and that everyone ‘buys into’ the company interest
  • avoid credibility gaps by remaining creative, flexible and responsive to the whole organisation.

Akzo Nobel | Corporate versus product branding