Case Study

VERTIV

New start: unshackled from its owners and put in control of its destiny

New brand: a new organization built from the ground up

In mid-June of 2016, Emerson Electric announced the spinoff of its network power business (ENP). ENP’s core business would be a stand-alone provider of thermal management, A/C and D/C power, transfer switches, services and infrastructure management systems for the data center and telecommunications industries. Offerings that don’t really mean anything to an average consumer but are incredibly relevant with individuals managing critical technologies and networks.

For the parent company, Emerson Electric, it was an opportunity to focus its growth strategy on core businesses. But for ENP it was an opportunity that was weighed down by a number of organizational and marketplace challenges. In six months ENP would need to build a business structure with core support functions and a brand. ENP 2.0 would need a name, visual system, brand architecture and migration path, digital strategy and launch.

A once in a lifetime opportunity

Spinoffs require an important balance between what a company leaves behind, what it keeps, and what’s created. All while keeping the business moving forward. The spinoff essentially was a pivot from being more than a strategic business line to a leading IT management business in control of its destiny. This was a unique opportunity to:

  • reposition the brand to lead in a highly disruptive environment
  • elevate the experience and drive deeper customer engagement
  • galvanize employees and build on the spin-off’s momentum

The new brand had to be designed for the future with the ability to grow in addressing near-term business realities and longer-term customer priorities. The three steps to success in this process were to:

  • maximize value and build from the strengths of reliability, track record of success and global scale
  • embrace change, position the new brand for post-industry consolidation and be prepared to lead in a full scale move to the cloud
  • create connections by going beyond communications and living through experiences

Lead in an environment with agility, flexibility and security

At the time, data center infrastructures were drowning in their capacity to provide value, putting businesses at a competitive disadvantage. To keep pace with the velocity of business, data centers would eventually be replaced with ultra-agile infrastructures. It wasn’t a matter of if but when. The most optimistic projection suggested that by 2026 there would be:

  • full dependence on public cloud computing
  • major consolidation with on 5 or 6 data service providers 
  • the disappearance of internal IT and data facility professionals

To succeed, NewCo needed to design a brand that would drive a thoughtful, flexible and responsive on-demand experience. Specifically, NewCo needed to:

  • create clear swim lanes and integration efforts with a series of acquisitions that lacked purposeful coordination
  • evolve the engineering culture that was leading to perceptions of arrogance
  • fix a frustrating customer experience with greater transparency and better corporate protocols
  • stop over-indexing on quality and reliability
  • over-communicate the future vision and how the company is set up for success

Moving from defense to offense

Historically the category relied on scale to create barriers of entry. Because direct competitors were large entities that grew through acquisitions, most were leaning into a masterbrand strategy that was supported by a handful of well-known legacy brands in their portfolio. 

From a positioning perspective the category fell into one of two spaces:

  • stable and established through strength and reliability 
  • agile and experienced through a more tech oriented and future-focused approach

As a whole, the category was articulating a greater purpose with its offerings by promoting critical energy management and the power of networks to propel human advancement. But they struggled to appear approachable and human while failing to keep up with the pace of the market. No one had effectively used scale to their advantage in a more modern context.

But to the credit of the category, most were addressing the customer experience by streamlining solutions with “suite” offerings and designing with simplicity in mind. This was evident in shifts with internal structures to meet these new expectations. 

The opportunity for NewCo to connect with partners and their customers in delivering a more thoughtful and outcome-based engagement was foundational to the new brand.

Focused, achievable brand priorities

The Newco brand had to support a new business structure that was designed to deliver on the whole, not just disparate parts of a solution. To turn expertise into a customer advantage and get employees to focus on the customer rather than the bottom line, the brand needed to 

  • “It works” is no longer enough - Redefine the definition of quality and meet expectations that were being driven by out-of-category experiences 
  • NewCo has the goods - make your breadth meaningful by helping customers recognize a handful of powerful product brands but emphasize that the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts
  • Start from a position of strength - maximize your expertise by acknowledging that nothings is “standard” and that your purpose is to equip your partners to make the complex calls
  • Talk the talk but always walk the walk - create one point of contact for customers and manage the anxiety around customers having one critical partner
  • NewCo is local everywhere - use the global footprint to your advantage by making the local knowledge visible and accessible 
  • Reputations are on the line - customers are vigilant about what’s at stake and NewCo needs to focus on the outcomes and benefits

Brining the strategy to life

The name Vertiv was selected to emphasize the vision of turning change on. Ironically the name was not presented in the first round of names but was a derivative of two names that eventually surfaced as the leading contender. 

The brand’s internal ability to engineer scaled solutions for partners combined with the external realities that decisions have consequences formed the foundation of the new brand. Recognizing that we live in a world where critical technologies have to always work, reassurance of the network and where the experience reflects green lights from start to finish. This meant that engagement never strayed from the following experience principles:

  • Always start with the customer
  • Own the experience 
  • Do what it takes to get the job done
  • Be a team player
  • Finish what you started

Key visual language elements:

  • Logo - the new identity worked hard to communicate the domain knowledge and expertise through the use of a triangular base and the letter V representing customers’ possibilities. All of these capabilities with a circular holding shape help signal the global reach of the brand.
  • Color – black was selected to reinforce the technology orientation and simplicity in experience, while the heavy use of orange accents created separation from a category convention of risk-averse blue palettes.
  • Photography – motion and the intersection of colorful secondary graphics helped reassure the confidence in creatively delivering solutions for critical, real-world applications

Fulfilling the journey

While going public was the initial focus, Emerson Electric sold the Vertiv business to a private equity firm. The brand was a critical pillar in completing the necessary work to improve the company, including investing in IT, restructuring the sales operation and instilling a customer-focused culture. While the public offering was delayed three years, in the first quarter of 2020 Vertiv listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Much of the heavy lifting required to get the foundation in place has been done and Vertiv is in a strong position to serve remaining data centers and scale its growth in cloud-based solutions.


Focus: several flagship brands relegated to product names to support Vertiv

Experience: brand pivoted the business from hardware to solutions and experience

Enagagement: from reactive to conversation starter and problem solver

Independent: publicly listed on the NYSE