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2.4 Interview brand manager

In addition of my literature study, I have added an interview with a professional brand manager from Caterpillar. I have chosen for this approach for three reasons;

  1. To validate my set of 21 brand criteria within my five brand categories. 
  2. To explore and learn the way corporate branding is structured at a well established B2B multinational company.
  3. A professional brand manager can reflect his experience and brand insights as exposed within his daily routine.

Being marketing manager for Energyst Cat Rental Power and due to the “family” relationship of Energyst and Caterpillar®, I have had the opportunity to interview a Caterpillar brand manager. Figure 26 shows the strategic position of Energyst in the outer ring of Caterpillars “brandscape”.

Figure 26 removed on request of Caterpillar USA

Figure 26. Caterpillar's "brandscape" (Caterpillar, 2006:4

With sales and revenues of $44.958 billion (FY2007), Caterpillar is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines and industrial gas turbines.

Facts sheet Caterpillar:

  • Caterpillar was formed in 1925.
  • Sales and revenues of $44.958 billion in 2007.
  • Caterpillar is a Fortune 100 Company / Fortune 500 Global Company, rank at position #50 in 2008.
  • Interbrand and BusinessWeek ranked Caterpillar 66th on its annual list of the top 100 global brands, with a value of $5 billion in 2007.
  • Caterpillar has a portfolio of more than 20 brands.
  • Global nearly 500 locations in 50 countries
  • Global dealer network, which spans nearly 200 countries,
  • Cat Rental services through nearly 1,600 outlets worldwide.
  • More than 101,000 employees.
  • More than 120,000 dealer employees.
  • Thousands of suppliers, doing business on every continent

I have structured my interview questions on the basis of my brand integration model, see figure 25. My interview questions follow the structure of the brand funnel model, see figure 27. I have constructed the funnel to guide the interview process and maintain a logical sequence. For that, each question should connect to the last answer.

Figure 27 - Brand interview funnel
Figure 27. Brand interview funnel.

 

Because of the brand complexity within the Caterpillar family, the interview questions are operationalised from the central interview question: how is corporate branding managed at Caterpillar across the globe? See figure 28.

Figure 28 - Interview funnel
Figure 28. Operationalization brand interview and interview questions.

 

2.4.1 Interview reflection

The brand interview funnel has support me as I hoped for. My interview went smoothly and the discussion was open, honest and constructive. Using my brand integration model as evaluation tool, I was able to form a comprehensive impression of Caterpillar as have not been able up till now. Therefore I validate my brand integration model as an objective and trustful research tool.

I have learned that Caterpillar has built her brand model around trust and integrity where the brand can be seen as a vehicle to connect Caterpillar to their customers and enable them to identify the promise they buy. For that reason, it is critical to develop a minimum level of employee brand competences; knowledge, skills and behaviour. To balance the integration and differentiation (local responsiveness) aspect, Caterpillar diffuses her brand knowledge by organising brand advocate seminars, training programs, and email news letters.

Caterpillars brand architecture is the foundation of strategic brand decisions and proactive brand management. Brand equity is measured every second year by assessing the actual brand performance among their customers. Communication tools are developed to safeguard brand performance driven by the key brand attributes. Dealers are kept responsible to comply with the communication rules/tools.

A brand owner structure is in place to manage the brand(s) and to have a clear understanding of brand responsibilities and accountabilities. Key to integrated success is the extent of brand adoption of everybody who is in contact with the brand. Understanding why people choose for a product or brand is most valuable.

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