In early 2017, the nearly 20 trillion VND M&A deal between the INSEE brand (Siam City Cement Group - Thailand) and LafargeHolcim Vietnam officially raised eyebrows in the Vietnamese cement market. Holcim, a globally recognized brand with a leading market share in cement production, had to undergo a complete transformation into a new brand, INSEE. The rebranding campaign, "Holcim is now INSEE," was a remarkable success story in introducing an entirely new brand to the market, preserving its heritage, and gaining trust.
Holcim had been a top cement brand in Vietnam, with top-of-mind awareness at 48% and unaided awareness at 92%, according to Nielsen. The Swiss-based brand had operated in Vietnam for 25 years with the support of the LafargeHolcim Group, a global leader in construction materials. On the other hand, INSEE was a regional brand from Thailand, relatively unknown in Vietnam.
The challenge at this stage was to convince consumers to try a brand they were unfamiliar with and build trust in the new brand's quality while addressing negative rumors in the market.
Within six months, the brand needed to transition entirely, and within four months, the marketing team had to convince consumers to use products under the new brand name. The campaign's communication goals were to make the change announcement simple and ensure that consumers understood that the product quality remained unchanged.
In the construction materials industry, consumers are often reluctant to switch to products they are not familiar with because cement and steel are core building materials, the backbone of their homes.
A vital prerequisite was to evaluate and redesign the Brand Architecture model to fit the new brand. The selected model was "Branded House," using a master brand for all product lines and different business segments. The new brand name, INSEE, was chosen to preserve Holcim's best brand assets, with "top-quality international brand" being a core value that INSEE could retain.
To emphasize that the product quality under the new brand name had not changed, the campaign's message was straightforward: "Holcim is now INSEE," revolving around the significant idea of a "Side-by-Side Comparison."
To widely announce the change to consumers, the marketing team designed a comprehensive communication campaign across various channels, including both above-the-line and below-the-line, reaching consumers and partners, suppliers, and distributors.
The packaging played a crucial role in consumer product recognition. The "Twist Packaging" concept was executed uniformly across sales points. Instead of entirely replacing Holcim packaging with INSEE packaging, both Holcim and INSEE cement bags were produced simultaneously, with their names juxtaposed on the packaging.
The TVC aimed to consolidate the international brand image, depicting a Western expert risking their life beneath a falling container, with two concrete columns openly bearing the Holcim and INSEE brand names, signifying that the product qualities of both brands were equally reliable.
The central activities of the campaign included a series of 20 mega-events held in provinces and major cities. These events attracted key influencers in the industry, building material retailers, and key contractors in the region. The main idea behind these events was "Side-by-Side Comparison," symbolizing equal quality under different brand names.
The campaign's activities were updated on the online branded community, www.vungxaycuocsong.com.vn, to build trust with mass consumers and connect offline activities to the online platform.
The M&A deal and the rebranding campaign attracted media attention. Articles in publications such as VnExpress and Thanh Niên helped disseminate information about the campaign and update consumers about events organized within the campaign.
Typically, after a brand name change, brands maintain just over 30% of the initial brand awareness. The top-of-mind goal for the new brand, INSEE, was 18% compared to Holcim's initial 48%. However, after six months of rebranding, INSEE achieved a 20% top-of-mind awareness, surpassing the set target by 2%.
Consumer perceptions were smoothly transferred from Holcim's core values, international brand, premium quality, and durability, to INSEE.
The "Holcim is now INSEE" rebranding campaign successfully navigated the challenges of introducing a new brand in a competitive market while preserving its heritage and product quality. It serves as an instructive case study in brand transformation and effective communication strategies.