Transforming a commodities business into a service provider
At the time of the project, Cargill was the largest private corporation in the U.S. with over $71 billion in sales, 138,000 employees, and diversified operations in the agriculture and food business that span 67 countries. Facing increasing industry consolidation, Cargill wanted to transform its brand image from a commodities supplier to a solutions provider.
Leveraging in-depth qualitative interviews with customers across the agri-food value chain, key executive interviews, and existing competitive and industry research, Prophet developed a comprehensive view of the Cargill brand and the environment it operated in. This research uncovered that while the brand had a variety of strong equities, it was also encumbered by certain legacy associations that were born from its strong trading-oriented heritage. Finding a delicate way to address these challenges while simultaneously leveraging the existing equities was the key.
Prophet created a new way to position the brand to begin the migration of Cargill being seen as a true solutions provider. By focusing the organization on delivering a customer experience that was grounded in the brand’s strong “proprietary knowledge” equity, and complemented with a new approach for how Cargill intended to work with its customers, we were able to initiate this perceptual shift.
This in turn also helped to enable Cargill’s migration to a masterbrand strategy, which Prophet further supported by developing a brand architecture decision-making framework for determining what to do with existing and acquired brands, and the governance approach needed to structure architecture decisions within a highly decentralized organization.
As a result of this work, new internal and external communications campaigns were developed to reinforce the new brand positioning. Additional results:
- Cargill broke the $1 billion annual earnings mark with $1.29 billion in profits in the first year after this project. By 2009, profits reached $3.3 billion.
- Since the launch of the new brand positioning, Cargill has achieved 5 straight years of record earnings growth
- Employee engagement scores increased by over 20%
- Cargill entered the public equity market for the first time with a spin-off - The Mosaic Company. Mosaic launched in 2004 and joined the ranks of the Fortune 500 in 2005.