Page 6: Corporate versus product branding
Akzo Nobel faces the challenge of creating a balance between corporate and product branding within its business units. The following examples set out to highlight some of the issues involved.
- Akzo Nobel Chemicals. Akzo Nobel Chemicals uses Akzo Nobel branding as a matter of course - it seems to be the right thing to do! This organisation feels that trying to sell without the Akzo Nobel name would dilute the value of its efforts – Akzo Nobel has a solid and reliable reputation to most people in the industry. Akzo Nobel Chemicals does put its own product names on its packaging, but also relates those brands to Akzo Nobel. Every pack supplied, whether it be a 50gm sample or 13 tons in a bulk tanker, is identified by the product and the name of the company. Importantly, the Chemicals businesses take an international perspective so that wherever they sell - in the Far East, the United States or Europe - they use the same branding and product images. They believe this is the best way to create synergy within the organisation and that the corporate brand provides the assurance of high quality products.
- Akzo Nobel Decorative Coatings. The Decorative Coatings business unit is a clear contrast to the Chemicals business unit. The main emphasis in this business unit is on brands which enjoy consumer loyalty in their own right and are therefore valuable assets for Akzo Nobel. Crown, Sandtex, Sadolin, Magicote and Valspar are examples and are each recognised for specific product propositions which appeal to very different target audiences. Offering a portfolio of strong brands allows Akzo Nobel to appeal to specific consumers, capitalise on the heritage of those brands and strengthen its competitive advantage in the various product sectors. An Akzo Nobel corporate branding approach would not achieve such objectives. Research carried out by the Crown brand indicated that consumers have little or no experience of the Akzo Nobel name in the field of decorative coatings. The Akzo Nobel company name and address, however, is a legal requirement on the back of packs. The utilisation of brands also results in special and unique privileges such as the use of the Royal warrant. This cannot be used under the more general Akzo Nobel company name.
- Intervet. Intervet operates in a similar way to the Decorative Coatings business unit and typifies the way in which veterinary businesses operate. All packaging contains the Intervet logo. The Intervet Vaccine range has a distinct identity in itself and the brand name Nobivac appears on all small animal vaccine packaging. All communication with veterinary practices (i.e. customers) in the UK uses the Intervet logo only. This also applies to all advertising material, promotional items etc. All correspondence with suppliers, however, takes place on Akzo Nobel paper.
- Akzo Nobel Fibres. The approach employed by the Textile Fibres business unit, with their product Sympatex, depends on the audience. When the audience is the final consumer, the Sympatex brand is always used and appears with another brand e.g. M & S, Austin Reed, etc. It is felt here that the presence of the corporate logo would simply confuse the final consumer and therefore, it is not used. However, when the audience is the ‘trade’ i.e. retailers and other distributors, the Akzo Nobel name is used widely because it is felt that this enhances the credibility of the Sympatex product.
These examples present an interesting focus for discussion: to what extent should all the parts of a diverse organisation relate and interface with the corporate brand?