W. L. Gore & Associates

W. L. Gore & Associates

Bringing clarity to a household name in innovative materials science

From the seeming miracle of outdoor fabrics that are waterproof yet breathable to advanced materials that have transformed electronics, aerospace, telecommunications and medicine, the innovations of Gore have touched many millions of lives. In the years since it was founded in 1959, Gore has built a legacy not only as an innovator, but as an organization that innovates with purpose—solving complex challenges through the application of advanced materials.

Gore is an enterprise unlike any other. Those who work at Gore are Associates who collaborate within a non-hierarchical “lattice” organizational structure and distinctive culture that values the creativity, inventiveness and freedom of the individual. Everything they do is underpinned by strong sustained beliefs and values established by the Gore family.

Perhaps the best-known of Gore’s products is GORE-TEX Fabric, the breakthrough performance fabric found in everything from shoes to outdoor shelters. It’s well-known around the world, but awareness of all that Gore does and what it stands for were not as widespread.

With a milestone 60th anniversary approaching, Gore saw an opportunity to build on its heritage to shape its future legacy. The anniversary would celebrate a renewed commitment to operating as a purpose-driven organization, crystallizing what Gore stands for in the minds of Associates and customers around the world. A fresh, clear approach to the brand, from its underlying framework to its visual and verbal identity, would be one of the key elements.

Finding what unifies Gore and empowers people

Gore has always been seen as a market leader and innovator. However, over time interactions with customers tended to focus on products and transactions. This, along with the relative independence of the organization’s three divisions—Fabrics, Medical, and Performance Solutions—had diluted awareness of Gore’s original purpose-driven intention.

It was time to step back and identify what was true to the Enterprise, meaningful to its customers and distinctive from competitors. This was a new look at the “hidden secret” of how Gore contributes to society every day, through its products and its people. Ultimately, this reassessment led to a natural brand promise—“Together, improving life”—that unifies Gore’s purpose, products and customers.

Building an identity that clarifies and unifies the master brand

Qualitative and quantitative research to understand brand perceptions and associations had revealed a deep hunger, both internally and externally, for a cohesive master brand. Gore called on Tenet Partners to build on the revised brand framework and help unify the enterprise under “One Gore” through robust visual and verbal identity systems.

Recognizing the equity and heritage in the existing GORE Logo that Bill and Vieve Gore had a hand in developing, Tenet used its angular “alar” shape and red-and-black palette as the launch pad for a redesign of the corporate visual identity system. Incorporating the logo’s signature triangle and angled shapes was a way to reflect the innovation so vital to Gore while also making the identity more modern and forward-looking. The bold palette with Gore’s red at its core, communicates the company’s passion and serves as a metaphor for improving life.

Tenet also developed new nomenclature, a messaging framework and brand voice firmly grounded in the brand framework to communicate the One Gore concept and revised brand attributes. In support of the new branding program, Tenet designed a new brand center and strategic communications to Gore Associates, partners and customers.

It all comes together in a unified Gore master brand

Thanks to the strength of Gore’s brand framework, the input of dozens of Gore Associates across all divisions and regions as well as more than 1,200 external stakeholders, and a close-knit, collaborative working relationship, Tenet delivered what Gore needed: a unified master brand with new focus that’s empowering and inspiring Gore Associates around the world, every day.

Mastercard ID

Mastercard®

Pioneering a new digital identity model

The interest surrounding digital security in the payments industry is intense. Hardly a day goes by without another story about identity theft. The rising threat has brought a vigorous response, leading to a complex and crowded security marketplace with overlapping security protocols and competing payment platforms. Rising above the noise and gaining differentiation poses a real challenge, even for the most innovative of new offerings.

In December of 2019, Mastercard embarked on tests of a groundbreaking digital service that has the potential to verify a person’s identity immediately, safely and securely in both the digital and the physical world. Mastercard’s unique model embodies privacy-by-design and does not aggregate identity data. It enables digital interactions to occur with minimal data exchanged and only when needed, and safeguards data and the use of data effectively such that the users are in control.

Standing apart while fitting in with the Mastercard family
To create a powerful brand and identity for the project, Mastercard turned to Tenet Partners. Working with the product development team, Tenet first needed to fully understand the capabilities of the product, how it differed from related offerings in the market and what role it would play in Mastercard’s global portfolio.

We discovered that the brand needed to balance a certain amount of autonomy with the right amount of Mastercard connection. The new brand had to stand out and deliver an instant connection to digital security, specifically identity protection. It also had to complement the Mastercard brand, providing a subtle link to the parent while simultaneously remaining entirely separate.

Respecting the masterbrand while pushing the envelope
The Tenet team grounded its work in the Mastercard design system while also exploring its limits. The name was straightforward and simple: “ID.” To reflect the unique nature of the product, the logo, visual system and UX components evoked the safety and privacy of the offering, visually representing the “mosaic” of data points that make up an individuals’ identity and the ability to only supply the necessary data required per interaction. Working with the Mastercard UX team, we co-developed user flows and guidelines regarding the vital relationships with trust providers and relying partners.

ASC Engineered Solutions

ASC Engineered Solutions

Building connections that last

OVERVIEW

Industrial pipe fittings, valves, hangers and supports are all part of the infrastructure that allows the modern world to function. Supplying these critical components had been the domain of two leaders in the space, Anvil International and Smith-Cooper International. Their products are used everywhere from oil fields and powerplants to industrial facilities, stadiums and commercial buildings.

CHALLENGE

The companies operated in the same markets but were largely complementary rather than being direct competitors across the board. This created an important opportunity and in 2019, the two joined forces.

While the merger created a single company on paper, legacy operations remained largely discrete. The organization had different technology systems and disconnected facilities. It was using the legacy corporate logos and names side-by-side and the workforce still identified with the company they had been working for prior to the merger. There was a clear need to bring the organization together under one brand that would signal the arrival of a new industry leader.

HOW WE HELPED

Tenet Partners was called in to help build a new masterbrand that would help to increase the value of the company. The brand had to unify the organization while encompassing its full portfolio of legacy product brands. There was strong equity in those brands, so a key consideration was finding a way to embrace their distinctiveness while also integrating them with the new corporate identity.

With the project gaining momentum just as the global COVID-19 pandemic hit, it became necessary to rethink the traditional brand development and implementation approach, which relied on face-to-face collaboration and engagement. The Tenet and client teams both rose to the occasion and established highly effective ways to collaborate virtually.

Uncovering shared strengths

The Tenet strategy team conducted extensive research, interviewing and surveying executives, employees and customers. Smith-Cooper was known for its internationally sourced products, global supply chain and high-touch service, while Anvil International offered leading U.S.-produced brands and deep knowledge driven by experience, along with distribution locations close to key markets. These characteristics complemented one another, pointing to a compelling combined value proposition.

The companies also shared a devotion to quality and service excellence. This common ground proved to be an important unifying brand attribute. It demonstrated that the new brand was the best of Anvil and Smith-Cooper, coming together.

Positioning as a solutions provider

Another central theme of the new brand was an emphasis on solutions. For the company’s leaders, the word “solution” had a specific meaning: a solution is the answer to a customer challenge, whatever that may be. It’s not something that the customer buys. Rather, it’s the sum total of how the company serves the customer, from quality products to support, expertise and service. This idea was deemed so important that it became part of the new name.

Unifying the companies, visually and verbally

Ensuring that neither company was seen as dominant was essential. The name ASC Engineered Solutions achieved this by bringing forward the equity of both legacy names. The Engineered Solutions identifier also elevated the brand to its desired status as a solutions provider that emphasizes engineering excellence. The tagline, “Building connections that last,” also carries multiple meanings. It refers to the company’s quality products as well as the strong, long-lasting relationships it creates, both inside the company and with customers.

The crisp, contemporary logo and design system reinforced those messages, with a graphic depiction of both precision and connectedness: a clear departure from the past and a visual presence that stands out among competitors. The flexible design system also lent itself to visual refreshes of ASC’s extensive product brand portfolio while maintaining the equity generated over many years.

Building up to the brand

An extensive employee engagement campaign prepared the workforce for the upcoming brand launch. This included an internal countdown microsite with weekly updates about the importance of brands, what to expect and answers to common questions. Tenet also put together a comprehensive “train the trainer” program to prepare selected ASC brand ambassadors to go on and train employees throughout the organization.

This broad range of internal launch-related communications helped prime employees for the arrival of the new brand, which was carefully planned to expose key parts of the brand platform including positioning, messaging and visual expression without fully revealing the brand itself. This helped draw attention while saving the high-impact reveal of the logo and name for launch day.

A carefully coordinated launch

With operations spread across a wide geographical footprint and many employees working remotely due the pandemic, coordinating the brand launch was going to be difficult. Since there was no way to make all employees available for a live launch event, a multipronged approach was taken. Tenet provided a scripted town hall presentation for brand launch, along with associated employee communications. The town hall was prerecorded and made available online, as well as being delivered live for those employees who could attend. This ensured that every ASC employee was exposed to the new brand on launch day.

For customers, an updated website encapsulated the new brand and featured specific details about the company – what had changed, why and what could be expected moving forward. Additional external communications included a digital and print advertising campaign, media outreach, a new corporate brochure and customer emails beginning on launch day and continuing well beyond.

OUTCOME

The arrival of the ASC Engineered Solutions brand helped to reinforce the organization’s industry-leading position. No single competitor was able to match ASC in every category, giving the company a unique standing in the marketplace.

Going forward, the company is continuing to integrate its portfolio and technology capabilities to make it simpler and easier to do business. As one organization under a single banner, ASC stands ready to achieve its ambitious goals for growth.

Mastercard® Talent Initiative

Mastercard® Talent Initiative

Booting up tomorrow’s digital defenders

Today society faces two undeniable realities: the digital infrastructure we rely on is under constant attack from rogue states and cyber criminals, and college graduates face high levels of student debt. While the two issues seem unrelated on the surface, a breakthrough collaborative aims to address both at once. Tenet Partners was called upon to play a strategic role in making it a success.

First, some background. There’s a critical shortage of qualified cybersecurity talent, particularly for public-sector roles. Top computer science graduates often set their sights on high-paying, high-visibility positions with leading technology companies like Apple, Google and Facebook. What are government agencies and others in the private sector to do? Create a smarter recruitment solution.

A first-of-its-kind cross-sector opportunity

Tenet Partners was invited by our long-time client, Mastercard, to brand an innovative cybersecurity workforce program. Mastercard was leading a public-private consortium of corporate sponsors that also included Microsoft and Workday, as well as government agencies like the CIA, FBI, EPA, Department of Defense and Department of Energy.

While we had collaborated with Mastercard for two decades, this nonpartisan, nonprofit initiative called for an entirely new solution with its own name, brand architecture, logo and visual identity system. Our work would be responsible for luring the best and brightest away from the Googles of the world with an opportunity to impact national security.

Decoding a mission-worthy program name

The right name would be evaluated on several criteria: it had to telegraph cybersecurity, be industry agnostic and show graduates that this was much more than a job — it was a mission. The name also had to project a platform which government sponsors and corporate partners could see themselves as part of. It had to be bold, inclusive and intriguing, yet transparent.

Our editorial team began by surveying the competitive landscape. While there were no direct competitors, there were existing government fellowships like the Cyber Corps and Cyber Command — both good, strong names to use as benchmarks. We set about creating something that would capture the same sense of duty, but position itself as a point of entry and not a long-term enlistment. Ultimately, we developed and presented the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative.

We built into the name a positioning that announces a program, rather than just a job. The word “talent” conveyed an invitation to apply and nods at applicants’ aptitude, while “initiative” creates a sense of paycheck-with-a-purpose. Together the three words demonstrate the program’s strategy, mission and opportunity for students to help our country while launching a promising career.

Visual identity unifies program partners

Thinking through the challenge to represent this group of program stakeholders, our design team created a visual mark that pulls from both the public and private sectors. More than a logo, the design carries the gravitas of a badge, or a seal — an insignia that would look as appropriate on a uniform sleeve as it would printed on a business card. The three points of the logo can be seen to represent the student, the government agencies and the corporate sponsors together in a subtle patriotic palette.

Mission accomplished? We’re on our way

With a mission to bolster our nation’s cybersecurity ranks, the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative has big boots to fill. The program launched in April of 2019 with a goal of fielding its first class of 50 recruits in 2020. After graduation, students will work for one of the government agencies, developing industry credibility and critical workplace skills. The program offers leadership training, pairing graduates with senior-level mentors. After their two-year government assignment, participants armed with new talents are encouraged to apply for positions with private-sector members. Once hired by a group member, participants receive student loan assistance.

The Cybersecurity Talent Initiative gives students the opportunity to make a significant impact, both for their country and their professional lives. That makes us proud to have contributed to the project.

Storylines: RAPID, INNOVATIVE BRAND CREATION

From blank slate to luxury brand at lightning speed

In 2017, Tenet CEO and Managing Partner Hampton Bridwell came upon a rare opportunity: The chance to put all of Tenet’s skills—and the firm’s philosophy—to the test by creating a brand for a category innovator, entirely from the ground up.

“Storylines started as an intriguing idea,” Bridwell says. “Take a lifestyle experience once available only to the very wealthy – a life of cruising the ocean full-time, actually living aboard ship as owner of a ‘cabin condo’ – and make it accessible to a new population. But that’s all there was: an innovative but untried entrepreneurial concept in a field with no true competitors. Starting from zero is unusual in our industry and a golden opportunity to prove the value of our approach. So we decided to take an equity interest and really showcase what we can do.”

Storyline founders Alister Punton and Shannon Lee recognized Tenet’s potential right away. “Launching a new endeavor like this is very fluid and fast-paced,” Punton says. “We’re in startup mode the whole time, thinking on our feet so we can get to launch day in the shortest time possible. We don’t have the luxury to sit back and ruminate, and we can’t afford any missteps or wasted effort. We have to get everything absolutely right the first time because we really have only one shot at it. When we looked at Tenet, we saw a world view that dovetails nicely with our own thinking.”

Like minds help shape a startup

What captured Bridwell’s attention was how closely aligned the concept was to Tenet’s own point of view about innovation, user experience and the interaction between brands and business strategy. “This is a prime example of market, business model and product innovation creating a new category. Crafting the brand is very much part of that and can make or break the whole effort. And one of the central themes that really appealed to me on the innovation front is that they’re creating value where it once was being destroyed.”

What’s unique about Storylines?

Traditional cruise lines depend on a steady flow of ever-newer, larger and more extreme ship designs. Because of intense competition, a ship is commercially viable for a relatively brief time; many years less than its actual useful service life. Ships that are no longer marketable typically go to the breakers to be sold for scrap.

Through Storylines, those ships can embark on a new life. After a full refit to the latest standards and transformation into vessels designed for comfortable full-time occupancy, they set sail on a continuous world journey. The pace is relaxed and the port stays leisurely. Cabin-condo owners can come and go as they please and stay with the ship for as long as they like, renting out their cabins when they’re not on board.

From the Storylines side, Punton and Lee understood the importance of brand in launching a startup. “We’ve been involved in a number of startup ventures,” Lee notes. “We’ve seen first-hand how important it is to send the right message immediately. It’s our opportunity to set the tone and course for the whole company – for investors, business partners, employees and our prospective customers. We think very much as Hampton does; brand strategy must go hand-in-hand with business and engagement strategy.”

A solid starting point sets the stage

Tenet rallied resources from across the firm, building a team of business and web strategists, engagement specialists, editorial resources, designers and developers.

“The elements of a terrific brand story were all there,” Larry Oakner, Tenet’s Senior Partner for Engagement, says. “A whole new experience built around an innovative, life-changing offering. The elegance of ocean travel. A chance to embark on a whole new, adventurous life as an affordable alternative to traditional real estate and retirement offerings. We knew we could make something really special out of this.”

To make the idea work, it would have to be introduced and positioned correctly. The team ran an initial test of the affordable cabin-condo product concept under the name My Home At Sea, and got a very encouraging response. That set the stage for developing a richer brand story.

“We focused initially on the luxury real-estate alternative aspect,” Lee says. “Our customers will have access to a lot of lifestyle amenities not available to the cruising public. A private helicopter, for example, and a yacht accompanying the ship that can be booked for excursions or private parties. But working with Tenet, we concluded that a ‘super luxury’ image might not send the right message. We’re looking to make a life of comfort accessible. A premium lifestyle, yes, but it’s not about champagne and caviar every day.”

Board advisor Jon Bond set the tone by crafting core principles for the brand that firmly established it as something new and different: a community of like-minded world citizens on a shared journey, discovering and taking part.

Bond also came up with the Storylines name. “Storylines really struck a chord,” says Tenet Editorial Director Andrew Douglas. “It’s such a resonant and evocative idea around which to build a brand’s narrative. Life is a story we all write, day by day. Living at sea, traveling the world aboard an ocean liner, experiencing new cultures… what a terrific opportunity for people to create that story for themselves.”

Balancing the visual with the verbal

“This was a delicate balancing act performed at high speed,” says Andrew Bogucki, Tenet Senior Partner for Design. “Because we were moving very fast and developing the visual identity in parallel with everything else, we had to do a lot of iteration and internal collaboration to make sure everything worked well together.”

With the brand strategy, tone of voice and even naming in flux, the direction was shifting quickly. “Our first deliverables were developed around the My Home At Sea name, using images of places like Monte Carlo,” says Tenet Partner for Design Courtney Grier. “As changes came along, we had to think and adapt fast. We were rapid prototyping, throwing out ideas to see what would stick with the team. It was a process of continuous improvement.”

As development proceeded, work fell into a collaborative rhythm with new content helping guide image selection and system design, and vice versa.

Tone of voice shapes the brand experience

A critical shift came about with the shift in brand narrative from centering on a luxury real estate investment alternative to an enriching lifestyle. “My Home At Sea worked very well to validate the affordable cabin-condo concept but it didn’t quite align with the brand story that was being developed,” says engagement specialist Larry Oakner. “It was very much about a real estate transaction. Storylines is a larger and more powerful story about how people live their lives.”

To retain the concept of ownership the team elected to create a lifestyle narrative around Storylines, but within that framework talk about My Home At Sea as a branded experience that includes cabin-condo ownership in addition to the services provided. “This addressed some issues for us,” says Storylines’ Shannon Lee. “Since our initial successful outreach was branded My Home At Sea, we wanted to maintain continuity. We might have lost that, and also diluted the ownership idea, if we abandoned it. By positioning it as an experience that Storylines offers, we could clearly position it within the broader Storylines narrative.”

A critical shift came about with the shift in brand narrative from centering on a luxury real estate investment alternative to an enriching lifestyle.

Service design proves its worth in the digital realm

Because Storylines was defining a new category, a lot of education had to happen, which could have been problematic. “It was essential to make engagement simple so as not to confuse potential customers and investors,” says Larry Roth, Tenet’s Senior Partner for Digital. “But we also needed to support a sales process that could be complex, without making it feel difficult.”

That meant creating a website that made discovery easy, with a resilient information architecture to accommodate the rapid pace of change. “The digital team came at this from a process and outcome standpoint, using our established service design principles. We mapped out customer journeys and tailored our strategy accordingly, while always recognizing that the business strategy might be changing. That proved to be the right approach, because we didn’t have to alter our original design much to accommodate new directions. And because of our flexibility, we were able to readily make needed changes.”

Reaching the finish line, with results beyond expectation

The entire process of creating and launching the brand took less than four months, and in that time Storylines had built a database of thousands of leads. “Given that when we started, absolutely everything – even the business model – was not yet developed, that’s extraordinary,” says Tenet CEO Hampton Bridwell. “And things like cabin layouts were changing right up to the last minute. The team did fantastic work, showing how powerful a shared collaborative mindset can be when innovating. I really think the results speak for themselves.”

Storylines co-founder Shannon Lee says, “In just a few weeks we have created a global brand that will engage hearts and minds and powerfully tell our story. Storylines has come alive and we are all very pleased with what we have created in the last few weeks. We are now in a stronger position to get our first citizens of the sea on board!”

Within just two weeks that began to happen, with strong initial sales including deals for not just one, but two premier level ($1M plus) cabin-condos aboard the first Storylines ship. Storylines also made a splash in earned media coverage, with the novel concept grabbing the attention of a number of major news and specialty media outlets.

APM-Terminals – Picking up new business

Picking up new business

How APM Terminals drove growth at its cargo container ports

Any given hour, somewhere in the world, a huge cargo ship is docked at an APM Terminals port and containerized cargo is being lifted on and off by 30-story tall cranes. By one measure, the number of TEUs, the classic twenty-foot equivalent capacity of a cargo container, came to nearly 10 million a year for APM Terminals. The movement of containers around the world, from producers to markets, can be seen as an indicator of the health of global trade.

But for APM Terminals, the need to grow business had to go beyond a strategy linked just to picking things up and putting them down. The work that Tenet Partners did using research and analytics proved that APM Terminals’ branding strategy had to shift to achieve their aggressive business growth strategy.

Growing away from the parent brand

Part of the A.P. Moller-Maersk Group, APM Terminals operates a global network of ports and inland services. Established within Maersk Sealand in 2001, APM Terminals had grown to be the world’s second largest container terminal operator by volume by 2011. The company has interests in 64 countries and more than 22,000 employees.

Serving the world’s major shipping lines with the industry’s most geographically diverse network of ports, APM Terminals generates a large portion of its revenues from contracts with its sister shipping company, Maersk Line, whose container vessels load and unload their cargo at APM Terminals ports.

With Maersk traffic maxed out, the challenge was to grow revenue from other shipping lines. That was a difficult proposition because non-Maersk lines felt they would not get the preferred rates and schedules as Maersk’s own ships.

At the same time, the parent Maersk organization was implementing a new master-branded strategy that would closely align APM Terminals with the Maersk brand. To determine the optimum branding strategy for APM Terminals’ own growth, we had to deliver bulletproof logic to allow the parent to consider a different approach.

Listening to the voice of customers, employees and leadership

To gather intelligence on potential reactions to a change to the brand, we conducted extensive global research that surveyed the opinions of over 5,000 employees, executives, current and prospective customers across a wide range of audiences. We found that the most important indirect customer was not the shipping companies, but the sovereign ports where APM Terminals operated. Their economic futures were dependent on ports opening their local markets to global trade. They needed the security of knowing that any port operator had the global connections and financial stability to maintain operations. At the same time, any new brand positioning for APM Terminals had to address concerns of individual shipping companies.

Container terminals are a commodity service – what differentiates companies can be seen in their speed, efficiency, safety and level of professionalism. To give APM Terminals a brand that would stand out, we developed a distinctive, compelling brand promise that would differentiate the APM Terminals from its competitors, maintain important visual continuity with the parent company and unite the organization.

We repositioned the brand around a differentiating inspirational idea: APM Terminals helps companies grow and countries achieve their ambitions. The core benefit behind the idea was the company’s ability to bring international trade to local shores.

We captured the brand idea in a globally relevant tagline: Lifting global trade. Simple, bold and universal, the tagline provides a rallying cry for the entire organization. From blue-collar workers to white-collar employees, the entire APM Terminals team literally lifts boxes, commerce and ultimately economies.

A sign of independence

We knew we had to address the historic visual identity of Maersk and a revitalized APM Terminals brand. As part of this transition, we removed the iconic ‘Maersk’ star from APM Terminals sites and communication, a highly emotional symbol that visibly connected the terminals with the parent brand. That sent a loud and clear signal of independence of APM Terminals, and thus helped remove the perception of favoritism for Maersk ships. However, because our research also revealed that the Maersk brand was a critically important factor in winning bids and gaining approvals from foreign port authorities and governments, we maintained the same type font and light blue colors painted on the cranes and vehicles.

A year after the new brand standards were in place and shared globally with all port managers, we conducted a worldwide brand governance program to audit how well the standards were being adopted – all with the intention of pointing to those areas in a terminal where a visible brand would have the most impact.

Brand management was also extended to help reimagine their digital presence. To help their customers, we built an entire look for the corporate site, a design for interactive maps and a look for terminal sites. A workshop helped us understand APM Terminals’ digital business objectives and customer needs. With an analysis of previous research and metrics, we were able to create a new Information architecture and user experience.

The simple answer to helping APM Terminals achieve its goal for growth would have been to fit APM Terminals into the Maersk master-branded system. The right answer was to create an independent brand – and the results proved that to be correct. Within a year, APM Terminals had increased their revenue from non-Maersk customers by just over four percent. Business was picking up.

IBM – Transforming the technology conversation

Transforming the technology conversation

How IBM migrated from commodity provider to societal leader

From typewriters, to personal computers, to servers, IBM’s history has been for decades rooted in hardware. While efforts were made, with the acquisition of firms like PwC, to shift its position to one of a business consultative partner, it was clear that much more was needed to influence the marketplace perception of the company that was referred to as “Big Blue”.

To get a full measure of the transformation that took place at IBM over the last two decades, one has to take a trip down memory lane. Before the world became irreversibly interconnected. Before, in the words of former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner, elephants could dance.

Transformation No. 1: putting the “e” in business

As early as 1995, prior to the arrival of game changers like Amazon and eBay, IBM was busy re-engineering how business would be conducted in the new century.

Together with our colleagues across all IBM business units, Tenet Partners went to work to communicate IBM’s revolutionary vision, across markets, industries and geographies. The main challenge? How do you make what had been a back-end story become part of the conversation in the corner office.

While this was, no doubt, a monumental task, the solution was relatively simple. The overall culture had to change from an insular position of “producing products to sell and that the world would, unquestionably, buy” to one that took the time to focus on clients’ needs, what problems they were looking to solve. Tenet was there to help IBM take its first steps into what we know today as content marketing.

Tranformation No. 2: changing the company’s architecture to align with strategy

With no one paying close attention, IBM had evolved into a siloed federation of businesses. This had the effect of diminishing the overall value of IBM and the comprehensive portfolio of offerings. Decision was made to revisit this business architecture and do away with the barriers that had been erected between its various operating units. Sub-brands were sunset and all were to rally around the singular idea of IBM as the purveyor of end-to-end solutions.

Transformation No. 3: retooling the sales force to fuel meaningful conversations

IBM took center stage as the champion for innovation that matters. That bold position had to be reflected in the way its sales teams interacted with clients. This meant further transformation in sales enablement. Moving away from the old push-content strategy, Tenet helped create interactive tools that put customers in the driver’s seat.

The dynamic computer-based environment enabled IBM clients to start the conversation at the beginning: their business goals. Using the same tool, the sales team could then discuss how to put technology to work to solve these same issues. This was the beginning of a true partnership with IBM as the enabler of client innovation.

Transformation No. 4: defining the imperatives for a smarter planet

While the world might have gotten flatter, its complexities were, by no means, getting smaller. Neither was IBM’s challenge to continue fueling growth. To insure success, IBM set out to transform not only how business was conducted but how the whole planet lived. Enter the era of big data and analytics.

Tenet’s role was to ensure that the corporate strategy traveled across the enterprise. Our team of content strategists and designers worked hand in hand with IBM to demonstrate the power of data when it is turned into actionable information. Moving away from more traditional marketing collateral, we focused on other avenues such as thought leadership papers and ROI research.

The team also worked at enabling IBM to have a voice in the increasing mobile public square. This required a refined approach to how IBM communicated with clients: information design that traveled across devices, compelling infographics, innovative data delivery and an active participation in social media.

Transformation No. 5: the never-ending journey

A true sign of leadership is one’s adaptability and ability to seize on new opportunities. IBM has undeniably earned its place at the leadership table as it pushes the limits of the possible through metamorphic concepts like the cloud.

Today, Tenet continues to play an important role in supporting this societal influencer and its mission to continue to grow and improve the quality of life – and business – for everyone.

Connecticut Fund for the Environment – Bringing passion and activism to life through UX

Bringing passion and activism to life through UX

Clean air, water and land are essential ingredients in building and maintaining healthy, vibrant communities. For over 25 years, the Connecticut Fund for the Environment has worked to defend the skies, waterways and terrain in and around the area of the Long Island Sound.

CFE’s success, through both legislative and activist pursuits, is built on ongoing engagement with their activist members, donors and future generations of environmental stewards. When faced with the problem of connecting with those audiences and bringing their passion to life in the organization’s digital expression, CFE looked to Tenet for advice.

What began as a quick “web redesign” project soon became a journey, where every aspect of CFE’s marketing was put on the table and questioned. Brand architecture, user experience and engagement with stakeholders were all reimagined through the eyes of CFE’s audiences.

To help our teams navigate through this process quickly, we turned to our human-centered design methodology. In our first workshop, we created the personas the team used to inform future exercises, where we were quickly able to:

  • Re-architect and reposition the brand
  • Evaluate stronger brand attributes and thematic messages
  • Define a common and accepted taxonomy and labeling system
  • Build an information architecture and systems of wayfinding and navigation
  • Construct and apply a user experience that captured the energy of the organization and drove action its across disparate audiences

After building the foundation based on user’s needs and organizational vision, we put plans into action through the construction of an entirely new digital presence. What had been a primarily informational site became an engaging, motivational and intuitive experience designed to drive action. Developed from the ground up, the site can be easily managed, nurtured and maintained by the CFE team not just for today, but well into the organization’s future. Fully-responsive, and designed around customer personas, the site helps potential and existing CFE members come together online.

Our proven methodologies for working collaboratively is what made this project successful. Our shared passion for environmental stewardship helped not only create a personal bond between Tenet and CFE, but an even stronger bond between CFE and their constituencies.

Creating a new leader in payment accuracy

Creating a new leader in payment accuracy

How Cotiviti captured the strengths and values that tie the company together

In 2014, Connolly and iHealth Technologies (CiHT) merged to form an end-to-end payment accuracy services provider with unmatched expertise, technology and analytics capabilities. The company’s leadership team took advantage of the move to introduce a new vision and recast the customer value proposition. Tenet Partners played a strategic role in the evolution, guiding a comprehensive rebranding program to unify the company’s employees, stimulate new demand from clients, and set the stage for future growth.

An opportunity to chart a new course

Most conversations about mergers and acquisitions take place between business executives, financial analysts, and lawyers. The emphasis is on the future of the company post-merger. However, equal attention needs to be paid to the brand portfolio, and how to take it to market. There is no lack of positioning options. Management may choose to keep and refresh the legacy brands, or retire them and launch a new one to embody the combined company.

For companies in need of an immediate lift in perception, rapid action is critical. But for those already in enviable positions of leadership, as was true for Connolly iHealth Technologies, it’s important to take the time for thorough, strategic thought, research, and planning.

Connolly iHealth Technologies management decided to initiate a robust rebranding program in order to help the two predecessor companies identify their strengths, discover new ways to overcome potential weaknesses, and bring together their distinctive business cultures. Taking the time to formulate a robust brand strategy also provided the opportunity to reach out to various constituents—healthcare payers, retail clients, and employees worldwide—and gain actionable insights on existing perceptions and expectations for the future.

Distilling the essence of the organization

The original value propositions of Connolly and iHealth Technologies were distinct from one another, and management of the merged company believed a single approach was the proper course. This was supported by Tenet’s discovery process, which revealed that stakeholders wanted and expected a cohesive solution to emerge from the combination of the two companies.

CiHT management had a vision of how the joined company could create new value for its customers, and wanted to base its decisions in research and sound strategy. Tenet’s findings confirmed what management believed: the combined expertise of Connolly and iHealth Technologies could differentiate the company by unlocking hidden value across the entire payment continuum. In this way, the new organization would be able to help clients achieve greater operational excellence and payment accuracy than either Connolly or iHealth Technologies could individually. The rebranding exploration thus fed into business as well as brand strategies.

Strategy work that centered on understanding customer relationships gave CiHT management a clear view into the company’s two teams. By interviewing clients and employees, Tenet mapped the healthcare and retail customer journeys, gaining critical insight into the brand experience from every perspective. The result was a real-world sense of CiHT’s strengths and weaknesses, helping to define shared service principles and aspirations for the new organization.

Tenet’s research revealed a client-centric point of view that showcased what had made Connolly and iHealth Technologies successful. It was set of attitudes that existed at both companies long before the merger:

Service excellence: Results-driven employees, willing to exceed client expectations
Drive for tangible results: Positive financial outcomes for clients—fostering enduring customer relationships
Collaborative engagement style: Close, consultative approach focused on financial outcomes
Expertise: Innovative thinking coupled with deep industry knowledge

Zeroing in on the value-add of the new entity

Armed with a deep understanding of CiHT’s expertise, its culture, its clients and the marketplace, Tenet and CiHT teamed up to build a framework for its new brand. The framework was built on the image of a diligent, expert partner, digging into complex customer data in pursuit of one thing: finding and unlocking hidden value.

The central idea of ‘unlocking hidden value’ became a touchstone for everything from positioning to brand personality. Building on this foundation, the team turned to constructing a brand architecture that would bring employees together, and deliver the clear, joint value proposition clients had been looking for.

Tenet’s research also revealed that a new brand name and brand architecture were the best ways to solidify the merger of Connolly and iHealth Technologies. The interim name was healthcare-focused. At the same time, however, the legacy Connolly name and reputation had value for retail clients. It also pointed to the importance of the legacy name, Connolly, and the value that retail clients attached to it and its reputation.

Together with CiHT management, Tenet strategists explored a variety of options for the company’s brand architecture. Following Tenet’s recommendation, company management opted for a single master brand, with separate brands for the healthcare and retail businesses.

Cotiviti: The parent company
Cotiviti Healthcare: The combined services
of iHealth Technologies and Connolly’s healthcare operations
Connolly, a division of Cotiviti: The retail-focused division

This master- and sub-brand architecture retains the equity of the Connolly name for retail clients, while signaling unification and an overarching strategy for the company as a whole.

Tenet’s research findings were also reflected in the name and tagline. Cotiviti represents two ideas that most resonated with clients and employees: collaboration and creativity. The new tagline, ‘Analytics. Insight. Value.’, speaks to how Cotiviti unlocks value through the power of analytics that deliver actionable insights to clients.

During development of the verbal and visual brand identity, Tenet’s editorial, design, and digital teams worked closely together. At every stage, Tenet leveraged the strategy work to capture the essence of Cotiviti’s value proposition. The Cotiviti brand voice takes customer engagement in a new direction by bringing out the company’s strategic role in the success of its clients. The visual elements also play an important role in communicating key ideas—elements of the logo and design system evoke the value hidden in client data, the complexity of the client landscape, and the orderliness and rigor of Cotiviti expertise.

Consistent action builds the brand

A successful brand is more than the sum of its elements. Strategy, mission, vision, positioning, values, content, and design are all essential, but at its core, every powerful brand depends on delivering the right customer experiences. Equipping and motivating employees to make those experiences real is critical.

When asked to describe the number-one reason for the success of Connolly and iHealth Technologies as separate entities, clients and employees spoke of “promises kept.” Both were renowned for their respect for the relationships between clients and their providers. Both delivered an evolving portfolio of creative solutions, and invested teams of payment accuracy experts. But most importantly, both were dedicated to exceptional business results for their clients. These core traits became the core of the Cotiviti brand experience.

As part of the original brand strategy work, Tenet had mapped the journeys that clients take as they interact with Cotiviti and its employees. This documented what the company was doing well at relevant touch points, and suggested improvements that could reinforce brand perception and loyalty.

By seeing the customer experience in context, management was able to understand how the company’s shared ethos of quality is expressed in the real world. Together with Cotiviti, Tenet strategists used this knowledge to develop service principles that became the ‘Cotiviti Way.’ It is a code of conduct for every Cotiviti employee, creating a signature, customer-focused brand experience delivered through every interaction.

The true measure of merger success: 1 + 1 = 1

Since the formation of Connolly iHealth Technologies in 2014, clients and employees had been waiting to see what changes the merger would bring. The management team set clear goals for the rebranding exercise: rally the legacy healthcare and retail teams around a compelling mission, and foster a desire for collaboration across the newly unified organization. Employees, the company, and its customers all stood to benefit from a strong sense of community, common interests, and shared aspirations.

To achieve these goals, Tenet led a company-wide employee engagement program, rolling out in stages leading up to the launch date. This gave employees a solid grounding in the new brand’s personality, principles and attributes prior to launch day, when the new name and identity would be revealed for the first time. The program included live training, an internal brand education microsite, and an email campaign.

The training program was developed by Tenet and delivered by Cotiviti brand mentors. The goal: to generate a deep understanding of the role each employee plays in delivering service the ‘Cotiviti Way,’ and to show how incorporating brand values into every action—‘living the brand’—impacts the company and its clients. This training program was instrumental in shaping behavior and creating common purpose across business units.

Tenet built an educational microsite that complemented the live training by educating employees on the importance of the brand experience and how it contributes to business success. Through interactive games and engaging copy, a clear message was sent: by rebranding, Cotiviti is investing in the future of the company and its employees. The microsite also delivered the vitally important message that The Cotiviti brand cannot stand on its own. The employees themselves, by acting together through consistent, on-brand behavior must nurture it. In this way, employees would be the force that elevates Cotiviti above its competitors to become a distinctive presence in the marketplace.

Cotiviti’s microsite, together with a weekly email campaign, prepared employees for the new brand’s launch with clear, consistent answers to likely client questions. This helped to ensure that all key constituents would understand the benefits of the new brand and go-to-market businesses, and what to expect in the future.

Seizing the moment

A full rebrand is a rare event, marking the beginning of a new epoch for a company, its employees and its clients. It is a milestone that offers the seldom-seen opportunity to create greater awareness. It signals change and invites people to take a closer look at the company, what it stands for, and what it can do for them.

For Cotiviti management, the creation of a new brand was a means to communicate, clearly and assertively, how the merger of the two companies, Connolly and iHealth Technologies, went beyond a simple business transaction. The launch of Cotiviti telegraphed operational excellence and thought leadership—establishing the company as a true leader in payment accuracy.

Cotiviti’s trademark attention to detail was evident in the weeks leading up to the new brand launch. The Cotiviti marketing team worked closely with Tenet to orchestrate myriad activities. Tenet designed a comprehensive, multi-channel rollout strategy to drive awareness and excitement across all touch points. A new corporate website and user portals, employee communications, sales enablement tools, video, and additional marketing collateral were all part of the coordinated effort.

Communicating the vision

The successful creation of the Cotiviti brand has given the company what it needed: the means to elevate payment accuracy in the minds of clients, from a back-office business activity to a strategic best practice. And, it sends a clear message of how Cotiviti combines technology, proven expertise, and industry knowledge to unlock value for clients in a way no competitor can.

The new brand marks the opening of a new era for Cotiviti. “Tenet helped us crystallize the strengths that have always given Connolly and iHealth Technologies a competitive advantage,” said Michael Axt, Chief Marketing Officer. “Now, under one unified corporate brand, we look forward to watching our clients experience the power of our merged company, and the value we can deliver when we bring our distinct strengths together.”

Accelerating into the future

Accelerating into the future

For more than 150 years, specialty insurer Hartford Steam Boiler has been inspecting and protecting the equipment that makes the world work: everything from HVAC plants to industrial machinery. Now, Tenet Partners has helped position this respected leader for a new future.

A powerful brand that earned its place

A decade ago, Hartford Steam Boiler became part of the global Munich Re portfolio. At the time, the Connecticut-based company sought to make a strong case for retaining its name and identity. Tenet Partners stepped in with research that proved the equity held by the Hartford Steam Boiler brand and its iconic locomotive symbol, winning the approval of Munich Re leadership. The result was a dual brand approach—something previously unheard of for the parent company—that kept Hartford Steam Boiler at top of mind alongside Munich Re.

The key challenge: striking a balance between past and future

Times change, however, and so has Hartford Steam Boiler. In the years since the Munich Re acquisition the company has been hard at work, diversifying its offerings and investing heavily in areas such as cyber, the Internet of Things and data science. It’s also been modernizing its systems to better deliver on its reputation as a customer-focused strategic partner.

Hartford Steam Boiler had outgrown the literal meaning of its name. It was time for a new identity that would better represent what the company had become, without losing the ties to its long and proud history. The move was prompted in part by a new Munich Re portfolio strategy that recognizes the value of discrete, autonomous brands for companies that have high recognition and brand equity.

An ambitious global brand transformation project was undertaken in collaboration with Tenet Partners. The centerpiece was a new name—HSB—along with a logo and design system that successfully connected the past with the future. The Tenet design team struck a delicate balance that shows the company is still the same trusted partner its clients rely on while pointing to its ongoing innovation and increasing embrace of technology.

The logo incorporates a simplified, modernized version of the beloved locomotive symbol, keeping the identity rooted in HSB’s heritage. The streaming lines coming off of it suggest data and technology as well as speed, acceleration and an organization in transition. This is a clear indication of movement into the future while the same time serving as a subtle suggestion of the Munich Re logo.

A powerful visual system provides a platform for the brand to tell its story, employing bold use of typography, a vivid color palette and technology-infused imagery that modernizes the image of a company long associated with heavy equipment and creates meaningful distinction in the category.

Navigating the complexities of a global brand The challenge for HSB was not limited to balancing past and future. The new brand brought three companies within the Munich Re portfolio together under the global HSB banner: Hartford Steam Boiler in the United States; the Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company of Canada; and HSB Engineering Insurance in the UK and Ireland.

This was in no way a transformation to a parent company with international divisions. Each company had its own set of offerings and distinct clientele, which had to be accommodated. Tenet strategists worked closely with teams in all three markets to chart the best course. This proved especially important in Canada, where the Hartford Steam Boiler name was not well known.

It was decided to go with a transition strategy for Canada, with an interim HSB BI&I name that would be phased out over time as awareness of HSB increased. Ultimately, all three organizations would be known simply as HSB: a simpler, clearer way to go to market.

Using a collaborative workshop approach, Tenet also developed a brand story and audience messaging for the new brand, further tailored for the three regions. This created a cohesive verbal identity for the enterprise while acknowledging and accommodating the specific needs of the Canadian and UK organizations.

Building excitement for the big change

A global rebrand is no simple task. Many workstreams run in parallel and have to be coordinated. HSB and Tenet both put teams and processes in place to keep everything on track and moving, with highly effective management, clear communications and regular check-ins.

As the visual and verbal guidelines were being finalized, Tenet built an employee engagement program that helped prepare the workforce for successful launch of the new brand by educating all of HSB on brand principles and desired behaviors so everyone could start living the brand on day one, in every interaction.

The Tenet/HSB team also developed and deployed a paced internal and external communications program to build excitement around the new brand, with internal town hall presentations and employee emails, along with FAQs, discussion guides and client outreach. Signage, including a large lobby banner for HSB headquarters, was created in preparation for launch day.

“Overwhelmingly positive response”

Shortly after launch day, HSB’s Vice President of Communications, reached out to say how it went. “Response to the new HSB brand has been overwhelmingly positive, both from employees and customers. People around the company have emailed me to say how much they like and appreciate all the work that went into it. We have yet to hear even one neutral, much less negative response.”

Perhaps most telling was the feedback from an HSB audience that’s been notoriously hard to please. O’Shea said “In the parking lot last night a couple of managers from our engineering department came up to me and said how much they liked it. If there’s anyone who’s be critical, it would be someone from engineering”. So far so good!

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