Thursday, April 10, 2008

Refocusing CLARION®

Some of us talked about green chemistry at lunch last week. It’s a new way of looking at chemicals, not banning them one at a time but using them more smartly in the first place: Eliminate waste, use renewable or environmentally benign materials and avoid relying on toxic reagents and solvents when designing chemical products.

Now, thanks to CITGO, there’s a spiffy example of repurposing an existing brand to answer the dictates (real or envisioned) of green chemistry. Like many vertically integrated oil companies, CITGO has produced a wide variety of industrial and commercial lubricants for many years. Many of these were purposely formulated years ago to meet the rigorous demands of, say, the food processing business, or pharmaceutical manufacturing. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established standards for cleanliness and purity of these “white oils.”

CITGO had branded many of these lubes with the name Clarion, a word derived from Latin meaning “clear,” some years back.

Today, CLARION is the newly established brand identity for an entire line of specially formulated white oils – you’ll find them on this new website, just launched last month. Credits for this rebranding effort start with the CITGO Lubricants Division itself, which recognized that there are more brand marketing opportunities (and channels) available than there used to be.

BVK in Milwaukee, CITGO’s advertising agency, created the new CLARION logo (“it looks pure and simple”) and is working on the look of the new line’s sales literature.

CITGO marketing personnel have been responsible for getting the new website up and running. And Richard Laurence Baron (c’est moi!) created the strategically oriented copy platform for these materials, starting with “The Earth deserves a new standard in lubricants.”

None of this would work if CITGO didn’t have the R&D and product history to back up the new line. Company chemists and blenders created oils and greases that help reduce ecological impacts, from pure “water white” oils for food manufacturing to environmentally tuned lubes for marine operations – without sacrificing on-the-job performance.

No product line (especially one from CITGO, for political reasons) will survive contact with the marketplace without being able to deliver on its promises.

But if CLARION White Oils take off, look at the corporate benefits: CITGO has a real, proven, environmental product/program initiative to add to its overall social responsibility story. It’s an honest story. And by assembling all the green chemistry products under a single brand name, it offers the potential of a concentrated revenue stream, instead of fragmented earnings from an SKU here and an SKU there.

Thank you, Jennifer Stanley and Yvonne Hale, Roger Tucker, Dave Kunkel, Karl Schmidt and Mark Betner for involving me in the start-up. CLARION will be supplementing the new website with print advertising, literature, product PR and marketer presentations.

This is how you refocus an existing brand. Can the company build a new market for it? Stay tuned; maybe we’ll find out together.

No comments: