In the next couple of months we will see the introduction of the Group’s new website and development of the INEOS brand identity. Tom Crotty, Group Director for Corporate Affairs and Communications and Richard Longden, Group Communications Manager, tell business writer Joe Calderara what it’s all about.
JC: These are tough times. Why spend any time and money on this sort of change now?
TC: Earlier this year we ran some research to find out more about how we are seen. We had interviews with people, both inside INEOS and outside – important customers, opinion formers in media, potential investors and so forth. We keep our eyes and ears open, so we didn’t think we’d get too many surprises, but one thing did stand out. INEOS has grown so rapidly that the perception people have of us hasn’t kept pace. We pride ourselves on the decentralised structure, individual business autonomy and the rest, but the downside is you have to make sure important people understand the scale and strengths of the Group. Even some customers were saying they thought we were a bit reticent, considering our size, putting forward our views on the market. We also had some playback from investors and media on the need for INEOS to open up a bit. They found us good people to deal with, but not always as accessible as they thought we should be. So it’s time to raise our game....
RL: There are other areas we identified, where being better known for what you do, and how you do it, produces benefits. Recruitment, for example, if you want to get the best students as apprentices, or people at any level come to that, it helps if they have an understanding of INEOS attitudes and successes to start with. Local politicians can appreciate the values our business brings to their communities; national politicians to the countries where we have sites.
But in the main it helps our sales teams if potential customers know more about who we are. And of course our own people, as not everyone can easily articulate everything about our quite complex businesses. It helps to have a clear expression of what we’re about.
JC: So what exactly will be changing?
RL: It is important that our brand reflects our company. So it’s important we don’t compare this to the likes of an ICI or BP rebranding. In true INEOS style this will be very focused, straightforward and practical. So you won’t see a change in the logo or the design of our company stationery for example. We see enormous value in leaving these things just as they are. But we do need this company-wide newsletter, to share information and news around our sites. And most certainly changes are needed to our website, which was originally developed in 1998. It is a genuine IT antique.
We’re about to introduce a completely restructured and redesigned site. It will definitely make finding your way round the Group a lot easier. There will be a shorter, sharper vision and value statement. There will be a new corporate brochure, which we think looks somewhat different for the market. Our brand identity has evolved. To answer the question what do you do and give people a definition for the whole business we have added a strap-line: INEOS. “The word for Chemicals”
JC: Why did you go with that..?
TC: Well you can have strap-lines that simply tell people what you make, you can have lines that talk about what you want to be. This does both. We certainly didn’t want to be pretentious or obscure, that’s definitely not the INEOS style. We thought this was strong because it told people who don’t know us at all, what business we’re in, but it also has an aspiration: THE word for chemicals. Think Chemicals. Think INEOS. And the words that reflect our business; words beginning with IN... as you’ll see in some of the material include: Insight, Inspired, Informal, Innovative, Independent and International.
JC: How did you go about it?
RL: We talked to a few outside companies and had some short presentations before deciding on one company. We thought it was important to have an objective view. At the same time there was a very tight brief, to keep everyone’s feet – and the cost – on the ground. We also insisted the people involved went around a number of our businesses and talked to a whole range of our people. The solution needed to grow from what we are actually like as a company.
JC: How do you know you’ve got it right?
TC: We don’t. What I mean is you can never guarantee creative elements in your marketing mix will work. But if you do your research thoroughly, and as I say, you’re true to the brand, you maximise the chances. The important thing is to keep on assessing the brand, keep on talking to all the stakeholders, so that we know we’re progressing in the right direction.
JC: When’s the big launch?
RL: There isn’t going to be one. That is not us. We see this as improving communication over time. It’s not a “one-off”, more something that we’ll continually improve. It’s inconceivable that we would spend money just to create the “impression of a launch”. Given our focus on costs across everything we do, its incompatible with our values and we feel is just inconsistent and inappropriate. We have to be more – entrepreneurial – innovative and industrial.
TC: you’ve just used two INEOS words there, innovative and industrial...
RL: See – it’s working already...