Can The Corporate Brand Protect An Animal Health Company’s Freedom To Operate?

Can the Corporate Brand Protect an Animal Health Company’s Freedom to Operate?

In-depth interviews with internal and external audiences led to an informed rebranding of a global feed additive company – mobilized by employee “brand ambassadors” — that helped preserve its freedom to operate.

Services | Research, Strategy, Branding, Creative Communications


Ask the average man or woman on the street if they’re okay with companies that sell antibiotics and hormones that go into food animals. The answer you’ll get isn’t just “No,” it’s “HELL NO!”

For 40 years, that answer never came up, because the man and woman on the street never got asked. But then things changed. Out of Europe came fears; “Frankenfoods” they called them. And what was once an intricate detail of animal agriculture made its way onto the shores of the U.S. and into the national headlines…NBC News, NPR, The New York Times.

Worse yet, “HELL NO!” journeyed into the board rooms of America’s biggest food companies – Tyson, McDonald’s, Walmart – and quickly traveled into the halls of Congress.

At the start of what seemed like an unwinnable conflict, one company – which continues to thrive today – turned to 5MetaCom for help.

The Work

Research: Understand current reality and what’s possible 

  • Conducted in-depth, qualitative interviews with existing feed animal customers, potential companion animal customers (veterinary clinicians) and internal staff and learned:
    • Existing customers had a positive perception of the client products and people.
    • The client logo was well recognized.
    • Veterinary prospects were not familiar with the client, but did know and trust the parent company brand.
    • Internal staff did not see the long-term value of the companion animal business and did not see a need to rebrand the client.

Strategy: Prototype the desired brand

  • Convened brand council, including the client leadership and agency partners.
  • Connected the brand strategy to corporate and operational strategies.
  • Leveraged positive impressions and the client brand equity with feed animal customers.
    • Addressed freedom-to-operate concerns by emphasizing the client’s positive role in feeding the world through technologies that improve food production.
  • Leveraged company’s parent brand with veterinarian customers.
    • Gradually introduced the client brand as business developed.
  • Helped employees understand and internalize the new brand.

Creative Communications: What to say, how to say it

  • Developed global brand standards.
  • Refreshed logo to be more contemporary.
  • Used parent company’s logo design for companion animal branding, gradually shifting over to the client branding.
  • Promoted the client’s value proposition in food and pets.
  • Brand enrollment:
    • Oriented employees to the new client brand and helped them internalize it.
    • Ensured buy-in from senior management as well as employees.
    • In just one year, 3000+ employees worldwide were enrolled.
  • Rolled out look and feel after enrollment.
    • Once employees internalized brand, they were excited to see it mobilized.
  • Developed new global website reflecting updated brand and companion animal business.

Branding: Keep the brand on course

  • Conducted brand enrollment refresher sessions for all employees annually for 5 years.
  • Ensured consistent application of brand standards.

Implementation of brand standards created a consistent look across food animal business units and affiliates, enhancing the client brand recognition worldwide as the companion animal business began to take shape.

Messaging relating back to the client’s core value proposition was integrated into materials to create a meaningful context for the client’s work for customers and employees alike.

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Today, more than 15 years after the start of their strategic rebranding effort, the brand remains a centerpiece of the company’s industry-leading growth and success.

The “unwinnable” conflict – retaining its freedom to operate – has been attained as the company’s mission of “feeding the world” has changed public and industry perceptions around the globe.

Through it all, the client has relentlessly placed brand front and center, emphasizing employee engagement through the brand enrollment process.