What is ABB? ABB is a Swiss-Swedish company that deals with the operation of power and automation technology. It is known as one of the largest engineering companies that’s active in more than 100 countries. The company maintains its role as being both innovative and leading in technology while being effective and sustainable in power and automation solutions. ABB conducted a branding project that consist of a four-step process which involved different business units and different countries. Although, the implementation of the branding idea within the technology field wasn’t easy, the company has done an awesome job thus far. ABB is considered a true global brand but is that specifically true?
There are ten attributes that the world’s strongest brands all share. The brand report card created by Keller (2000), is considered a systematic way for managers to think about how to grade their company’s performance for each of those characteristics. The first attribute is being able to excel at delivering benefits customers truly desire. This attribute relates to being able to create an engaging customer experience.
This involves uncovering unmet consumer needs and wants, focusing on maximizing the consumer’s product and service experience, and having a system in place for getting feedback from consumers to the people who can effect change. ABB assessed reports and surveys which included ratings from customers. The results were deflating because even though there were a few distinct drivers, similar drivers were linked to its competitors which made the perceptions of competing to other organizations comparable. Additionally, ABB had interviews with its employees which revealed that the brand touch points did not convey a unique strong brand image.
Customers value the benefits from ABB’s brand and their knowledge of industries. ABB is known for offering efficient solutions in managing production, innovation for delivering electric power while lowering environmental impact and being reliable yet efficient to complex industrial processes. By ABB restructuring the brand to create unique brand values to set its brand apart from competitors this will amplify its market differentiators without losing its coherence and credibility.
The second attribute is staying relevant. This attribute covers the elements of the brand such as the type of people who uses the brand and is modified to fit the times. ABB restructured its brand to where it reinforced the attitude of its stakeholders among the ABB brand. ABB created a new visual which made the company to appear more modern while supporting the one voice-one brand strategy. This reinforced the brand’s identity and intended positioning.
The third attribute is pricing strategy. This attribute entails pricing being based on the consumers’ perceptions of value. ABB collects information from its customers to optimize pricing. This includes cost reduction done through Research & Development. In addition, ABB aligned their pricing based on the consumers’ perception on the company’s ability to deliver electric power through innovation and efficiency.
The fourth attribute is being properly positioned. This attribute covers being able to communicate its similarities and differences from competing brands. ABB decided to reestablish themselves and what they stand for as a company. Before the company started the development process for positioning its brand, the benchmark among its competitors did not show any difference that could distinguish one from the other (The Case Centre, 2013). The unique brand values that was created to set ABB apart from their competitor was the main focus for the development of the rebranding process. Rebranding has helped ABB as a company to better communicate to the market as to what their new vision was today as opposed to ten to fifteen years ago.
The fifth attribute is being consistent. This attribute covers marketing communication which doesn’t send conflicting messages and haven’t done so over time. This involves adjusting the companies programs to keep everything current. During the brand implementation process, the brand platform was introduced in a new visual appearance. This was to create a more modern and outstanding look and feel that works globally and for all businesses. The new corporate design reflects the sharpened brand identity and intended position which is what the company wanted it to be perceived as since communication with its stakeholders influences the way the brand is perceived.
The sixth attribute is having a brand portfolio and hierarchy that makes sense. This attribute includes the company being able to create a seamless umbrella for all the brands in the portfolio, the brands within the portfolio holding individual niches, the brands overlapping, maximizing market coverage, and the brand hierarchy being well thought out and well understood. ABB redefined its one brand strategy that involves the company using its capabilities and resources more effectively to leverage its identity as one strong group and endorse acquired companies during the transition. ABB had to establish rules as to deal with acquired brands that are incompatible in terms of their customer base and product strategy. ABB considered a four-phase integration strategy for acquired companies that belong to the core business but cannot be integrated. Some of there would be endorsed brands or co-brand with ABB depending on the circumstances.
The seventh attribute is the company having an integrated marketing strategy. This attribute involves having marketing activities and channels to communicate effectively by providing the same message about the brand itself, and solidifying the brand’s identity. There was a permanent integration of their employees from business units and markets that were key success factors to the entire branding project. With the commitment of the CEO and the workshops conducted it helped to distinguish the brand strategy, visual identity, corporate design, and implementation of new brand guidelines and communication tools. Then, with managing the brand’s architecture
The eighth attribute is the brand managers being able to understand what the brand means to the customer. This involves what the consumers like and dislike about the brand, being aware of the core associations that are made with the brand, outlining customer driven boundaries for the brand and creating detailed, and research-driven portraits of their target customers. ABB’s brand identity describes three of the brand’s values which consist of leading edge technology, inclusive, and passionate. The input is from management worldwide and constitutes the brand’s personality and what makes ABB unique among competition. These were to convey a clear and strong communication and positioning strategy.
The ninth attribute is the company being given the proper support and that support being sustained over time. This involves the company consistently investing in building and maintaining brand awareness. It was important to distribute all new brand values and guidelines during the early phases of the branding process. In 2008, a global involvement campaign was initiated to present the new branding strategy, the visual identity, and the corporate design while discussing the implementation of the new branding guidelines and communication tools. This was to promote an understanding among 120,000+ employees for the new brand values and to create a brand experience in a more perceptible way.
The last attribute is consistently monitoring sources of brand equity. This involves having a brand equity management system in place. Upon ABB restructuring their brand apart of the process was brand monitoring. There is a Periodical Customer Survey that is carried out at least once a year within the whole customer base. The survey includes a Net Promoter Score (NPS) which is a loyalty metric that assesses the customer’s willingness to promote a company. The Periodic Customer Survey is used to have a better understanding of its relationship strength with its customers and to identify the company’s performance.
ABB uses a Brand Perception Monitoring tool which was customized by Reputation Institute which is an index on a 0-100 point scale that ranks companies according to their corporate reputation. Another instrument used by ABB to monitor its branding success is the Internal Brand Audit which assesses the employees’ understanding of the brand positioning, brand values, and communication themes within the form of a survey. This is another way to review the way the new visual identity guidelines have been executed by analyzing communication material.
- Keller, K. L. (2000). The Brand Report Card. Harvard Business Review, 78(1), 147-158.
- The Case Centre. (2013). ABB-A Brand in Movement: Branding Challenges of a Global Business-to-Business Company. North America.