Unilever Ltd – Corporate Image Management

Case Study on Unilever Ltd.

Unilever ,multinational corporation that owns many of the world’s consumer product brands in foods, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products, was created when British soap maker Lever Brothers merged with Dutch based Margarine Unie so that  palm oil which was a major raw material for both margarines and soaps could be imported more efficiently in larger quantities.

Despite of Unilever’s widespread operations and popularity of brands like Dove, Sunsilk, Surf, the corporate image remained ambiguous midst the minds of its stakeholders due to the following reasons :-

 There was no central leading managerial strategy for the two managerial stems – the English and the Dutch. Thus, the affiliate acted as independent managements resulting into numerous corporate identities and vision. This affected the company’s image in the long run.

 Unilever possessed strong capabilities in branding and marketing worldwide as it understood local markets and knew how to advertise to them. However, Unilever had no cohesive centralized branding scheme to all its affiliates. Inconstancy of one single identity failed to go global and kept the shareholders and financial community ignorant.

 Unilever had employed high-quality staff all over the world. But due to the limited central direction, Unilever had become one of the least cohesive identities.

 Unilever’s research projects were the major source of success for its constant upgrading and renewal of brands. Yet, it did very little to communicate its research capabilities to audience and build up its serious corporate image. It believed in a low-profile.
As the world globalised, managerial disintegration and lack of coherent corporate image became a major problem for international success. In a changing global business environment Unilever realised its need to adapt with a coherent corporate image for which a revolution had become necessary.

Such a revolution, to manage Unilever’s corporate image, had to take place for two factors:

 Corporate Communication of Unilever.

 Corporate Identity of Unilever.

 Unilever’s Corporate Communication

Strategic corporate communication became an important target. The following actions were taken for it:

 Shift in communication strategies away from local affiliates toward the global marketing and advertising division.

 A special global marketing and advertising division was established in n order to create a new dynamic corporate image that corresponds to an new vision of the modernized parent company.

 Delivering its messages inline.

 Developing internal PR.

 Use of modern channels such as new websites, email, forums and modern advertising campaigns.
 Unilever’s Corporate Identity

In 1970s, consumers became more conscious of their nutrition and more aware of the influential global environmental trends (global warming and climate change) also became more sensitive to global social phenomena (wealth distribution). Moreover, the consumers started to look for added values or positive differences from the corporations.

With the help of its effective research team, Unilever smartly adopted all the above mentioned criteria into its new corporate identity:

 Unilever’s new message emphasizes healthy choice without comprising taste, convenience and affordability.

 Unilever imparts an Eco-friendly image which is sensible to issues of sustainable agriculture and water sustainability.

 Economic development issues such as creating and sharing wealth in developing economies and emerging markets also are included on the corporate website.

 Nurturing and respecting employees is a part of its corporate vision.

Thus efforts have been made to portray Unilever as a trusted member of a global society.

As a result, By 1990 Unilever was no longer an under performing firm and the key achievement was the identification of Unilever as being in the fast-moving consumer goods business.

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