SES re-brand pitch presentation
Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It turns out that the creative pitch presentation for the satellite company I worked on in March of this year was unsuccessful. Early in September SES launched its new identity to lead a new brand strategy. The reasons for not winning the pitch remain unclear but as with these sorts of pitches they're often fraught with miscommunication, changing goal-posts, opportunism and client-side strong-arm tactics. It appears that this pitch was no different.

For me this is a Deja Vu...

In September 2006 I created what was, at the time, we believed, a ground-breaking brand refresh idea for Mercedes-Benz. Although Henrion Ludlow Schmidt came a close second against five other top-tier brand consultancies it appears that the outcome of the pitch was pre-determined. Claus Koch has yet to demonstrate his consultancy's winning idea in a convincing way.

I digress, back to SES...

As I mentioned in May in this news feed there were numerous personal highlights working on this pitch presentation. I proposed a number of ideas that weren't put forward but that I would have loved to work up fully. I'll mention a couple here in brief as they were language-based ideas that I felt encapsulated the SES business and might lead the new brand strategy.

But first, the business strategy in short...

The three divisions of SES, namely, SES Corporate, SES Astra and SES World Skies were joining to form a single company. The divisions although performing separate functions in principle were replicating services and were often in competition with each other causing confusion and frustration among its customers. A consolidated company with a single interface was required.

SES World Skies was the rapid deployment and developing markets division representing the 'reach' of the group. SES Astra, most well known in countries like Germany for Direct-To-Home (DTH) satellite television and represented the 'consolidation' of established markets. SES Corporate, the holding company, was also responsible for the design, procurement and maintenance of the satellites.

My ideas...

Succinctly put the relationship of SES World Skies and SES Astra to each other was described as 'the hunters' and 'the gatherers'. This I proposed be interpreted in an idea that might lead a new type of satellite services experience and, perhaps, a new type of delivery of both narrow-casting of the internet and broad-casting of television via satellite. The idea I proposed was 'SMARTCASTING' with 'casting' intended to mean the casting out (the 'reach') of SES World Skies and the 'setting' as in to cast something of SES Astra (the 'consolidation').

The other notable idea was the interpretation of an equivalent to HSBC's 'Think global act local' or, in broader marketing terms, 'GLOCAL'. An idea that only satellite can deliver and an idea that is particularly relevant relative to the 'GEO' of Geosynchronous or Geostationary Earth Orbits. As well as the highly specific and local delivery of services and the customer-centric business model.

The big idea... 'GEOLOCAL'.

It seems that there wasn't really scope to include these ideas in our presentation as this was the territory of our strategist who proposed 'Together we aim higher' and which we put forward in the end. The branding concept we put our weight behind to win the pitch is the idea featured above. Click on the images above to see the entry in my portfolio. I thought this was a particularly exciting idea. Not only have I always wanted to see one of my brandmarks on the side of a rocket but I've always looked for an opportunity to use a fractal in a brand identity. And, also, to do something a bit more 'new-school'.

Judging by the chosen identity it appears that I may have been a bit too ambitious. The final solution is a classic identity system that is quite obviously easy to manage, but, in my view, also easier to forget. Its a handsome solution but it's not outstanding. 'Your satellite company' is an off-the-shelf customer-centric brandline that will quickly look like a 'me-too' idea.