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Published: January 27, 2003

 
 

The Internal Impact of External Branding

Changing Structures
Clearly, promoting a cohesive image to the outside world was only a first step: We needed to unify our operations so that everyone internally (1,700 professionals worldwide are employed at the company) identified first with the enterprise as a whole. Key customers needed to see a unitary brand before they encountered a subbrand (i.e., McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge instead of F.W. Dodge) every time a sales or service person contacted them. We needed to accomplish this while continuing to leverage the equities in our existing construction publications and information-company brands.

Internally, we had to introduce specific structural changes and inducements to promote unity, not simply ask for it. To do this, we:

  • Articulated a clear vision and mission statement
  • Rolled up individual brand financial targets into group targets, making them internally public for the first time
  • Created a new Integrated Solutions and Consulting sales team to bring group solutions directly to customers
  • Created new product platforms to connect content from our different business units
  • Consolidated and centralized customer invoicing and customer service processes
  • Launched new advertising, marketing collateral, trade exhibits, and internal communications that for the first time demonstrated a unified image

“Our branding strategy was the key to uniting formerly divided business-unit and product-oriented management factions to sell solutions to customers.”
Ties that Bind
These changes would have been impossible without the new McGraw-Hill Construction brand, which ties together our people, products, and value proposition. It has given us the vehicle to organize internal change and the credibility we needed when approaching our key customers with offers to solve their problems.

Five years ago, we had separate business silos pushing independent product lines to meet standard customer needs. Today, we have collaborative sales teams operating under a single brand offering product and service bundles to solve selected customer problems. Our branding initiative was the key activity behind these improvements, which are now paying off in double-digit annual growth in profits.

Why is branding critical? It gives us a competitive advantage in challenging economic times. And, internally, it reinforces our strategy and motivates our people to be focused on clear, shared goals.


Authors
Victoria Pao, victoria_pao@mcgraw-hill.com
Victoria Pao is vice president of marketing and business development for McGraw-Hill Construction and is responsible for implementing marketing and new product development strategies for the group.

Steve Lawrence, lawrence@slinyc.com
Steve Lawrence is executive vice president/partner at Straightline, a New York–based corporate brand consultancy. Mr. Lawrence is responsible for the firm’s brand and identity strategy development assignments, as well as client service.
 
 
 
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Resources

  1. “How the Red Sox Touch All the Branding Bases,” by Glenn Rifkin, s+b, 4Q 1999. Click here.
  2. “Channel Champions: The Rise and Fall of Product-Based Differentiation,” by Evan R. Hirsh and Steven B. Wheeler, s+b, 4Q 1999. Click here.
  3. “How to Brand Sand,” by Sam I. Hill, Jack McGrath, and Sandeep Dayal, s+b, 2Q 1998. Click here.