Interview: Falk Heunemann
Mr. Trautmann and Mr. Goss, what was wrong with the old brand?Trautmann: Everything has its time. The old way of writing the name thyssenkrupp with an uppercase T and K, the old, unconnected logos in a circle, and the dark blue color were the right symbols prior to the merger. They served to signify that two large steel companies with long traditions had come together. However, thyssenkrupp has merged since then. And it is for this reason that we have worked together to develop a brand to demonstrate that the company is a modern technology group that has grown together.
Are you satisfied with the end result, Mr. Goss?
Goss: Absolutely. The new brand is not just an attractive look, but the external expression of an internal culture change that has taken place in the Group. It is modern, clear, and points to our future. And in point of fact, we worked out the basis for it ourselves. We interviewed more than 6,000 stakeholders (customers, employees, owners) and experts and conducted highly contentious discussions about what actually makes us who we are and how we want to be perceived.
Trautmann: That’s true. In the history of our agency we have never cooperated on a branding project that was prepared so effectively and thoroughly by the customer.
Then why not a completely different logo, a completely new name?
Goss: That was out of the question. We wanted evolution, not revolution, so as to combine our tradition with change.
On the one hand, it shows that we are conscious of our qualities and our 200 years of history. On the other, it indicates that we want to become better, for example with regard to customer relations and closeness to customers.
Trautmann: It is important that the public recognize thyssenkrupp. As an agency, we cannot simply come in and announce that we are going to design something completely new. Instead, we have to pay attention to the values that set the company apart.
Why was this necessary now?Goss: The time had simply come, and it was part of the Group’s Strategic Way Forward. We have stabilized ourselves after a difficult phase and have once again earned the trust of customers, shareholders, and employees. We have developed a new mission statement and formulated a new customer promise externally. Both of these will lead us into the future. The new brand is a logical step in this process.
Trautmann: Look at effective brands like Coca Cola. They have remained true to themselves internally, despite having constantly developed their look, because they too are subject to changes in fashion. Anyone interested in staying attractive in the long term has to readjust again and again. That holds both for companies with consumer business and B2B companies.
There is also the new slogan ‘engineering.tomorrow.together.’ What does it mean?
Goss: It says who we are in a way that is concise, clear, and comprehensible. Engineering means that we are a technology partner for our customers. Tomorrow stands for our relation to the future. We don’t satisfy ourselves with what works today or worked yesterday; instead, we also think about the markets of tomorrow. Together means we don’t work in isolation; we think in conjunction with our customers and with everyone involved in the production chain.
Trautmann: A slogan like this has the inestimable advantage of expressing a company’s promise in just a few words. It provides guidance for all employees and serves as an orientation for customers. In the case of thyssenkrupp, it expresses three things at one and the same time: what the company does (engineering, in other words, finding solutions), why it does it (tomorrow, thinking about the future), and how it does it (together).
What do customers think of the new appearance?Goss: The new brand and slogan and the new promise to customers do nothing for customers in and of themselves. Everyone in the company now has to bring this triad to life, to implement our claims in reality. And we will do it, too, because our credibility is at stake.
Trautmann: InCar®plus is a good example. In 2014, more than 40 automobile innovations were developed here, both across organizational boundaries within the Group and in cooperation with customers. So before it was even formulated, the slogan engineering.tomorrow.together was already being lived.
What else will people see of the changes, apart from the fact that a new logo will appear on products and stationery in the future?
Goss: A great deal. For example, we want to intensify cooperation with customers, contribute our technological expertise to networks to an even greater extent, and work on our shortcomings even more intensively in order to be rid of them once and for all, for example improving punctuality for deliveries or reducing time-to-market for new products. Our goal here is to create not just a new label, but also a new self-image, one that is already being lived in the company.
A whole series of brand names that customers have gotten used to will now be discontinued, for example rasselstein®. Why is that?
Trautmann: When a company focuses its energy on just a few brands, the chances of impressing them in the minds of decision-makers is much greater. At the same time, the effort and expenditure is easier for the company to manage.Goss: We want to use the new brand architecture to present thyssenkrupp as an overall group with multifaceted expertise. This has not always been recognizable for the customer, due to the more than 180 brands used by the company. We will proceed very carefully with the new organizational structure, exercising sound judgment and making decisions on a case-by-case basis. The name rasselstein®, for example, has a long tradition and will be preserved. But in the future, the customer will no longer buy their tinplate products ‘from Rasselstein,’ but will purchase a rasselstein® product from thyssenkrupp.
How soon will the new look be implemented?
Goss: Our goal is not to repaint the trucks and replace the nameplates overnight, regardless of the cost. Rather, our intention is to allow ourselves as much time as necessary for the process. But the biggest changes will become noticeable within the course of a year. One thing is clear: We want to be recognized and evaluated based on our brand, our slogan, and our promise. And we are ready for that.
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