Showing a commitment to sustainability
When Dow decided to incorporate sustainability into its brand strategy as a key competitive element, it turned to Tenet Partners for help. In a project that grew in scope over time, the Tenet and Dow teams collaborated to develop a robust framework to support what Dow is doing today as well as its ongoing sustainability evolution. The result is a fully-evolved set of brands that bring the framework to life.
Dow’s sustainability branding strategy went far deeper than putting a sustainability spin on its existing portfolio. Dow chose to tangibly demonstrate its long-term commitment to environmental sustainability by creating a brand architecture around the idea of “Sustainability Science.”
While a vitally important global initiative, this was not to be an overhaul of the existing Dow architecture and identity. The key challenge was to both fit within and complement the existing Dow enterprise brand; the sustainability brands had to be unmistakably “Dow” while also being distinctive.
HOW WE HELPED
The multifaceted project started with brand architecture. In a highly collaborative engagement, the Tenet strategy team took Dow’s ideas as a starting point and developed the concept of “sustainability pillars” under an overarching Sustainability Science umbrella that encompasses all sustainability activities at Dow. Each pillar is dedicated to a specific area of focus: carbon reduction, bio-based materials, recycled content, circular design, biodegradable materials and resource efficiency.
With Dow being a large, matrixed organization, consensus building was crucial. Working closely with Dow, the Tenet team developed a complete sustainability brand architecture, brand platform, pillar descriptors and brand names, messaging, logos and a visual system along with governance planning and implementation, including employee training.
All work was based on qualitative research as well as an extensive verbal and visual audit of Dow and its competitors, including Dow’s corporate sustainability initiatives and reporting around its 2025 and 2050 sustainability goals.
Using these insights along with the existing Dow brand guidelines, Tenet focused on key strategic, verbal and visual opportunities that would enable Sustainability Science to fit seamlessly into the overarching Dow brand while having a life of its own. The nomenclature, messaging, logos and flexible, scalable visual system are consistent with Dow brand guidelines while referencing sustainability benefits.
By uniquely expressing elements already present in the Dow brand such as color, the new system conveys a nature-inspired feel that separates the sustainability brands from Dow’s corporate identity while dovetailing with it – a system within a system. As a result, Sustainability Science enables Dow to both retain the integrity of its core enterprise brand while opening up new pathways for the future.
With a strong and distinctive sustainability-focused branding approach that is unmistakably “Dow” while carving out its own distinctive niche, Dow is clearly communicating its commitment to the future both verbally and visually. The company is now introducing its sustainability brand and governance across all business units, communication functions and with partner agencies globally in preparation for a global rollout.