What is the biggest brand management challenge for AkzoNobel?
Nathalie Quéré: We’re in the middle of a big transformation as a company because we’re separating from our Chemicals division and refocusing on our Paint and Coating businesses. This impacts on our brand strategy because we’re reinventing ourselves while we are still AkzoNobel. The question is: how do you reinvent yourself within the same brand environment but with a completely different portfolio? We’re very attached to our brand, our name, and our history, but we are evolving.
Another challenge is that we have a hybrid brand architecture where, in addition to our product brands, we have non-branded products operating under the AkzoNobel name which contribute to 20% of the company. This creates complexity as what you do at a corporate brand level has an impact on your product brands.
Is brand more important now than ever – in general and for AkzoNobel?
NQ: Yes. By going through this change you reflect on the importance of the brand, the role of the brand, the equity you have in your brand, and you see the importance of that. I’ve never had so many discussions around the value of the brand than in the last year when we were really reflecting on changing our company.
What I’ve seen from studies we’ve done is that people in general are very keen to understand the core values of the company behind the brand. And that is something which relates strongly to the reasoning behind our endorsement strategy – to highlight the company brand, particularly for our product brands, because we know that consumers are interested in understanding what the company behind the brand is doing. What are our values? What do we believe in as a company? How do we behave as a corporate citizen? All questions that have become very important for the AkzoNobel brand. But it goes beyond the branding exercise – it’s really going to the core and the authenticity of the brand.