125 Years of Bayer in India: Global branding meets local
For a major milestone in the history of Bayer in India, an effort led by the country team and supported by global branding resulted in a memorable and successful campaign
The anniversary of Bayer in India might have been 125 years in the making, but the series of events to mark it, and the accompanying logo, were conceptualized and planned in just three months. A chance conversation in May 2021 between the SBR and head of HR in India led to some research into Bayer’s heritage in the country, and a realization that, not only has Bayer been active in India since 1896, but it was also one of the very first multinational companies to establish a base in the country.
That research was done locally and assisted by the global heritage team, which is part of the brand team. It uncovered more historical documents about Bayer in India than we had ever had before. Of course, India is still hugely significant today from a business perspective, with nearly 5,000 employees and thousands more associates and partners. It is also the only country other than Germany where Bayer is listed on the stock exchange. Business was growing steadily, and as Rachana Panda, who heads the Communications, Public Affairs and Sustainability team in India, notes, it was a good time to start making a noise about Bayer in India: “The presence of Bayer in India has always been felt, but we had never really talked about it. We had always been a little cautious about external presence and media engagement. But this was a time when agriculture and healthcare had become extremely important. Everybody was talking about nutrition, food security and health security because of the pandemic. When we realized it was also our 125-year anniversary, we knew it was a real opportunity to get everyone together.”
Cross functional working lead to success
A cross-functional team combining global and local experiences quickly devised an array of promotional activities making the most of digital platforms – from simple Teams backgrounds to the development of a local corporate video, the use of third-party media to amplify ‘Better Life’ stories, and a full-scale virtual event. Tying all this together was the brand design, which centered on the 125 Years of Bayer in India logo.
This logo needed to fulfil several different objectives: it needed to be instantly recognizable and likable. It needed to be the right format for easy sharing on social media. It needed to be unique to Bayer in India, but also to fit with the global brand standards. The solution was to get in touch with the global Corporate Brand Management (CBM) team.
Rachana sums up how it worked: “We reached out to the CBM team and dropped the news on them: we had 125 Years coming up in a few months, and could they guide us on a few things? They understood quickly what we really wanted, and how we could integrate our brand identity into the logo with the right colors and style.
“The local and global teams worked very well together, producing different options within a short timeline. When assessing these, we knew we wanted the logo to look very local and Indian – but if we went too far in this direction, it would no longer look ‘Bayer’. A compromise was identified by adopting the Bayer look-and-feel and adding the Indian flag colors.”
What makes the logo so special?
The final logo is designed to communicate Bayer’s values and key activities through a number of elements, including:
- Helvetica Neue bold typeface: Distinctive, modern and clear
- Oblique text tilted 12 degrees: Indicates forward thinking and clear direction
- Bayer colors: Represents our dynamic, progressive, and evolving personality
- Flag colors: Makes the logo specific to India
Thanks to the combination of the Indian flag colors in a legally compliant way and the Bayer colors, the logo gives an identity to both the overall company and to the country group. It has a sense of being universal – and to reinforce this, an exception was approved so every employee could use the logo in their email signatures.
A good reception in every sense
“In the end, the logo was liked by pretty much everybody,” reports Rachana. “We built a life-size cutout in the reception at the company headquarters in Thane, and people kept taking photos of themselves with it. LinkedIn was filled with pictures of our colleagues looking proud.” A perfect fit with the optimistic, visionary and passionate Bayer personality, explained in the Brand Model which was launched just three months before 125 Years of Bayer in India campaign planning began.
These principles carried over into the wider celebrations of 125 Years, lasting for several months. “Everything came together as a branded package,” explains Rachana. “We started with a CSR compendium, collecting all the societal activities we do in the country. That was the first thing with the 125 Years label on it, and it went out to all external stakeholders.
“Then, we gave the website a new look. Social media got branded up with the logo. We used a media partner to spread our positive stories. And best of all, we ran an internal campaign, based around a full-scale virtual event. It started with a recording from all our leadership team members, then proceeded to videos of best wishes from our customers and distributors. The third part was a celebrity singer who came and sang for the employees, which was very well received!”
The combined internal-external approach made for an unforgettable campaign that has set the standard for future comparable events. “Internally, our community really responded to it – they even sat down with their families to watch the event videos, so everyone really got connected in a complete way,” says Rachana. “And externally, when we visit trade partners and organizations now, they already know how long-standing we are in the country. That resonance did not exist earlier, but when you create something as exciting as this and amplify it, people take note.” A huge success – for the Bayer reputation, but most of all for the Bayer team in India. Here’s to the next 125 years!