Caterpillar Aligning Marketing and Brand Operations with Dealer Requirements


The Situation

Caterpillar operates an extensive network of 200+ dealers across 160 countries. As one of the world’s most valuable brands, Caterpillar places a lot of value on the integrity of their brand expression and accordingly, are very committed to ensuring a consistent approach to brand governance. Signage is highly a visible asset and a beacon for their dealerships—yet there were inconsistencies in the quality of signage and application of brand guidelines across their dealer network.

The Challenge

BrandActive was engaged to develop a strategy to bring a cohesive approach to Caterpillar’s global signage program. The optimal approach had to align with the requirements and realities of the dealer network and satisfy the stringent branding requirements for the valuable Caterpillar brand. The solution also needed to address dissimilar requirements across the globe related to dealer profiles, geography, and budget, as well as the diverse range of vendor capabilities. Specifically, the solution needed to be just as relevant to a rural application in a developing country as it would for a highly profitable dealer in a large urban American city.

BrandActive was instrumental in laying a foundation that allowed us to gain control and reengineer a process to deal effectively with the complexities implicit in a project of this nature.

Former Brand Identity Manager, Caterpillar

The Solution

We assessed the current state for every dealer site including how signage requirements were being fulfilled. It became clear that the one-size-fits-all approach to Caterpillar’s signage family together with its decentralized vendor strategy was producing sub-optimal branding. First, we helped Caterpillar spend less overall by creating a comprehensive set of technical standards with two levels of signage—standard versus more basic application. A new diagnostic tool was developed to determine which grade of signage was to be used in which situations and aligned the dealer requirements with the appropriate application. Next, we matched the capabilities of vendors against the requirements on a global scale Based on this data, we designed and ran a rigorous RFP process. Lastly, a vendor education program for selected vendors ensured that all vendors executed according to plan while a new communication and implementation plan supported dealer compliance.

The Results

The roll out of the program globally resulted in reduced shipping costs, faster delivery times and streamlined logistics (including customs clearance.) The program saved the dealers money—and that led to an increase in dealer participation and compliance. From North and South America to the Middle East, India and beyond, overall brand consistency and expression improved significantly to a level of quality worthy of the Caterpillar brand. The streamlined and scalable workflow was set up to remain in perpetuity. The benefits continue to be realized as new dealers come into the system and when signage needs to be replaced.

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