Jos van Haastrecht, DSM Rebranding

Jos van Haastrecht, Director of Company Branding at DSM, has been responsible for the DSM rebranding approach that resulted in an entirely new corporate identity system in 2011. The transformed DSM brand is symbolic of the new strategic positioning of the company. It is not just about a new relevant positioning, logo, tagline and visual identity system, it also reflects DSM’s strategy and DSM’s culture.

The whole rebranding process took DSM more than 2 years but the result is astounding. Not only is the new logo visually appealing, the perception of DSM changed too. I talked with Jos about the art of rebranding.

DSM started the process of rebranding from research that indicated how DSM was perceived versus what they really offered and how they wanted to be perceived.  Interbrand, a global branding consultancy, interviewed multiple stakeholders around the world and came up with a verdict that was clear: DSM was perceived as a very Dutch diversified chemical company with a strong technical focus, a company which was regarded as ‘stiff’, inward-looking and failed to optimally connect and engage with its external stakeholders.

But the past has long been gone and reality is different now. DSM transformed into a  global science-based company active in nutrition, health, and materials The DSM product line has changed accordingly and is now about providing healthier better performing, more sustainable and more nutritious ingredients and materials.

The ultimate goal of the new brand is to reflect the newly transformed DSM and to close this perception gap and create an image of an energetic and inspiring company whose main attention is focused on its customers.

According to Jos van Haastrecht, the fact-based research was the most crucial part of the whole process because it gave the management confidence and was a tremendous help in formulating the brand proposition and promise.

Coley Porter Bell agency, from Ogilvy’s network, took it further and created a modern, visual identity including a logo based on an abstract symbol with bright colors. Together with Coley Porter Bell and the Ogilvy network also the brand promise  “Bright Science. Brighter Living.™ was developed.

The renewed DSM brand symbolizes the approach centered on creating innovative solutions that make a positive difference to people’s lives. The company aims to make a difference in the world while growing their business.

The introduction of a new image to stakeholders, including employees and the financial community, was a big success. The feedback from all involved was very positive.
Of course, the rebranding doesn’t finish here. Now is the time for further implementation of the external and internal brand touch points. And even though many say it’s the most difficult part of the rebranding, Jos would argue with that, asserting that organizational behavior, culture and aligning the brand with the organizational identity remains one of the biggest challenges.

DSM  requires a very different culture than the inward-looking and operationally focused culture that DSM had before, according to Jos. That’s why the DSM ‘culture change agenda’ program supports the cultural changes by focusing on creating ‘One DSM’; a customer orientated company with a common purpose able to deliver the collaboration needed across business groups to create the innovations required by our customers. See also this post about Royal Dutch Shell.

Thus, DSM should continually stimulate and facilitate change in order to fully internalize the brand promise and complete the process of rebranding.

DSM Brand positioning: creating sustainable shared value


DSM’s new brand promise Bright Science. Brighter Living.™ stands for the DSM strategy and the DSM mission: DSM uses its science and innovation in partnership with its stakeholders to create products and solutions that make a positive difference to people’s lives.

“Brighter Living” represents the company’s core value of sustainability. For DSM this is the central driver of value for all stakeholders: customers, communities, employees and shareholders.

DSM is actively involved in addressing crucial tendencies that face all of its stakeholders: mitigating the impact of climate change while searching for new forms of energy, trying not just to feed but also improve the health of the growing population, and meeting changing requirements due to global changes in demographics and technology.

DSM believes that its success will be driven by creating sustainable shared value for all stakeholders. For DSM customers this means they will derive value from being able to offer end users more sustainable and enhanced products. Society derives value from the impact of more sustainable alternatives and, consequently, DSM along with their shareholders derive value from stronger growth and profitability. Finally, DSM’s employees feel engaged and motivated through the contribution they make to a better world and the success this creates for the company in which they work.

In order to create more shared value, DSM also invests in a strategic, pro-active and ongoing dialogue with key stakeholders. An example is its partnership with UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) with which DSM is advocating greater awareness about the importance of improved nutrition. The partnership with WFP (since 2007) has made it possible for DSM to reach out to 10 million people with its tailored solutions.