The Challenge

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.

Our Solution

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.

Client Testimonial Watch

In this video, Ann Ness from Cargill talks about how Prophet helped it use brand strategy to help change customer perceptions and build a strong master brand.