Behind The Work

BUILDING BLOCKS FOR A BETTER FUTURE

Senior Writer and Editor
Hannah Lindley joined Havas Group in October 2021 as a Senior Writer and Editor. She has a background in corporate reputation management, journalism, and creative writing.
Recently, W helped specialty materials leader Arkema unveil a new positioning and visual identity that firmly places the Group’s expertise in materials science at the service of sustainable development. This rebrand is based around a simple idea – a wave of change – that solidifies the brand’s recent push towards sustainability and social responsibility.
Dare! spent time with Gilles Galinier, Vice President of Communications at Arkema, and Gregoire Weil, W’s Managing Director, to learn more about this repositioning and Arkema’s future.  

Can you talk about the process you went through coming up with this new positioning?

Beginning this rebranding marked an important milestone in our story, and we decided to reflect deeply about our brand, territory and new approach and think critically about how we wanted to communicate it. We started this work just before COVID, and so we used the lockdown period to work on our vision and our strategy internally to make sure key players were on the same page. We had to consider everything about our brand – our logo, colours, vision, storytelling etcetera – all centred around our global approach to building a more sustainable world. Something critical that we kept in mind was that sometimes brands get accused of communicating a new vision without strong proof to back up their efforts – which is especially important now that people are much more aware of sustainability. So, we made sure that to the extent we could, our new platform was driven by our business.

Can you talk about the philosophy behind the project and why you’re passionate about the work?

For lots of brands, talking about sustainability is not life threatening in any way. But when you’re in the business of chemistry, it can be a tremendous risk to actually go out there and take the risk of changing your business model. And this matters because it is not just another sustainability campaign – Arkema does products and materials that are literally the building blocks of the future. And think about events like COP26 – whatever conclusions come out of something like that, the world is going to keep moving forward. People are going to keep consuming. Businesses are going to keep producing, and they’re going to need people that make that more sustainable. Arkema is one of those players in the world that’s out there making a difference, and it’s exciting to be a part of work that isn’t just talk, it’s actually impacting the world of business and the world that we live in.

Do you foresee this new brand territory changing the industry?

We both share a character trait of being fairly modest, so I don’t know if we’re going to say that we’re going to change the industry, but I think we’re definitely going to help shape the conversation and that in itself is a major step in terms of what we can achieve. If we were to look back on this two years down the line, we would be happy if we’d contributed to shaping the perception that an industry which was identified as the problem can be seen as actually part of the solution. I think it would be a tremendous success if people said “well, actually chemistry, although it has historically had a bad name, is actually one of the parts of the economy that is putting solutions on the table to meet the challenges our world faces.”

What have been some of your biggest challenges and successes in bringing the project to life?

One of our greatest challenges was also our greatest success, which was the way a cultural shift happened so rapidly within the company during this process. What we witnessed was a realigning on what really matters, and basically taking the risk to be open and transparent. That mattered because this is an industry where it’s more convenient to stay hidden. These past 18 months, we’ve seen a visionary CEO move his company forward by saying “Listen, this is where we need to go, and you will be on board, or you won’t.” It was very impressive to see this kind of cultural shift at the top levels of management take place over a very short time and where you had people thinking, “Are we taking too much of a risk?” And later, that turned into people saying, “We’re very proud of this.”

“If you put the right minds together, you can find ideas and you can solve problems for the greater good.”

Gilles Galinier, Vice President of Communications at Arkema

What are the outcomes you’re hoping to achieve with this repositioning?

One critical outcome is that we’ve been able to celebrate the human spirit’s capacity for innovation. If you put the right minds together, you can find ideas and you can solve problems for the greater good. And that’s the direction that this whole brand platform puts the company into, which is the kind of change that needs to happen across the industry in the next 10 years. There are a lot of milestones in 2030 that industries across business need to work towards – and if we want to meet those milestones, they are going to need Arkema’s solutions. We also want to make sure that internally, all the messages we outlined in the campaign were not only understood but also taken to heart. It’s key that our people be proud of what they are doing.

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