From a small town in Germany to the world
Voith is a multinational technology company headquartered in Germany. Founded in 1867 as a small locksmith, Voith now has more than 19,000 employees, sales of €4.2 billion and locations in over 60 countries worldwide. It is one of the largest family-owned companies in Europe.
Voith has a broad portfolio of systems, products, services and digital applications. It sets world-class standards in the markets of energy, oil and gas, paper, raw materials and transport & automotive. Their products and services impact the lives of people all over the world. If you have ever ridden a bus or a high-speed train, put pen to paper or turned on a light, you may well have come into contact with a Voith product without noticing it.
An opportunity to take stock
In 2015, economic conditions and business performance indicators led Voith to undertake a restructuring process which included selling its Industrial Services division, making a big investment into robotics and many other business scale adjustments. During this period, management were concerned about the impact of the restructuring on employee morale. At the same time, a big company milestone was approaching in the form of the Voith Group’s 150th anniversary in 2017.
Both the internal restructuring and the company anniversary presented an opportunity to use Voith’s brand to both explain and galvanize change; getting ready for the next 150 years in the Voith Group story. It was a chance to highlight Voith’s legacy, reengage employees with what Voith stands for and encourage them to work together across corporate silos for the benefit of the entire organisation.
With its long-term experience of being at the cutting edge of technology, Voith understood the importance of staying relevant better than most. With this in mind, the organization set about evolving its brand strategy. The goal was to reimagine the brand idea, brand values and strapline in a way that would be both authentic to Voith’s heritage and simultaneously renew the company’s positioning for growth.
We collaborated with Voith to develop the corporate brand strategy in detail, delivering various articulations of the strategy: from a mission and manifesto to positioning and personality. By reconsidering and streamlining Voith’s values they could more effectively guide the organisation’s behavior. These elements were accompanied by a compelling visual identity evolution.
Uniting a global workforce
As we embarked on our journey with Voith, it became clear that there was already a solid brand strategy and a very detailed design system in place, but that various business units within the group had built similar strategic elements in parallel. Creating a group brand strategy would unite the Group behind one overarching vision. It was about taking the existent, examining it in detail and deciding which parts needed developing in order to allow for closer collaboration and unity.
The goal was to give relevance to the brand in the face of industrial digitalisation and other megatrends, while also ensuring it remained true to its heritage. And, from an engagement point of view, how could we bring all of these changes alive in a way that inspired and enthused Voith’s global workforce?
Starting from Voith’s existing positioning “Engineered Reliability”, we carried out a deep immersion process in order to find a brand core that was both more emotional and that connected Voith’s longstanding expertise with its future ambitions.
The immersion also served as an initial diagnosis, from which we developed the engagement program’s focus. It was clear we would face the task of raising visibility and understanding of the advantages a strong corporate brand can bring, as well as redefining the contents of the brand itself. To revamp Voith’s brand and embed it in the renewed brand strategy and at the core of the engagement program and bring it to life through the visual identity used during anniversary celebrations.
Inspiring technology for generations
The strategy was thoroughly analyzed resulting in an overhaul of Values, Mission and Vision statements. A new articulation of Voith’s brand was coined: Inspiring Technology For Generations. Staying true to the core of the former “Engineered Reliability”, the new claim sets a more emotional tone to focus on Voith’s future. From there, the engagement program was articulated around the concept of “Taking Ownership” to motivate all employees to truly feel empowered within their roles, embody the Voith brand and celebrate the 150 years of history with pride and a sense of belonging.
Visualising 150 years and counting
Coinciding with the rollout of the 150th anniversary celebrations, the new strategy and engagement program needed to be made tangible with a renewed visual expression. The concept developed is based on the many ‘rings’ of a tree seen in cross-section, symbolising sustainability, age and strength, the rings of a tree grow as time passes. Each layer with its own variations, but originating from the existing structure, and also taking the form of a fingerprint.
In addition to the visual and strategic elements, we were asked to create a detailed plan for an internal engagement program and implement its initial steps. This program would serve to communicate the new brand to everyone in the organization and also have the emotional benefit of ensuring employee enthusiasm post-restructuring. It was to be launched as part of the anniversary celebrations, accompanying the strategic concept.
The system is built around the use of a 50/50 structure, bringing simplicity and boldness to the identity. Enlivened with digitally native colours, the cleanliness speaks of Voith’s enduring focus on technology.
The renewed brand strategy was launched in front of hundreds of senior managers from Voith worldwide. Voith’s Group Conference periodically marks a milestone in shaping corporate strategy and aligning leadership globally. Voith’s results were announced, the Business Units’ successes and challenges shared and new goals adopted.
The Voith Brand was a major element of the conference’s agenda along with the announcement of the Brand Engagement Program. The new framework and the brand engagement program are now being planned out in detail on a global basis. Based on this anniversary expression a revision of Voith’s corporate identity was rolled out in 2018.