Corporate Branding

The art of infight

It’s not easy for new ideas. That was the lesson for one Austrian company whose energy-saving product was nominated for innovation prizes, yet ran into problems on the market because the stipulations of building regulations hampered its implementation.

A variety of hurdles in nine different building regulations, it has to be said.

This posed a considerable challenge for Kovar & Partners, but the challenge was two-fold: to start with, they had to understand a problem that those in charge did not even know existed. At least as important as arguments, facts and suggested solutions, however, was coordination, the agreed procedure as to how to bring down the entire tower of legislative hurdles piece by piece as quickly as possible, like in a game of Ker-plunk.

It was, at least, clear from the outset, which stipulations had to be amended. That is not always the case with business concepts in the digital world. One such company turned to Kovar & Partners because their service did not fit into any legislative compartment. The by all means helpful authorities were clueless as to which regulation they should apply. They could not turn a blind eye either, because a number of established providers did not want to allow the potential new competitors into the market in the first place. Only one thing could help, and that was an amendment to two framework laws.

What both cases show is that sometimes marketing, advertising and communications cannot achieve anything, even if they have been designed perfectly, because political issues still have to be resolved first. And that is the task of Public Affairs, something quite different from that which is popularly understood as lobbying.

It is here that corporate branding also becomes exciting. What should the market associate with Kovar & Partners? A term that means something different from one person to the next, and that most people understand as a little complimentary? Associations with getting things done, such as “influencing decisions”, “pulling strings” or “linking networks”? Or one of the popular buzz phrases, from “we put our customers first” to “we offer complete solutions”?

The answer ultimately lay in the old English tip “show, don’t tell”. No, not case studies – they are hardly possible in view of stringent confidentiality requirements. Instead, we looked to publications that document Kovar & Partners’ understanding of how policy works. For example, by-election analyses focusing on economic impact, or a dossier on Brexit only a day after the referendum. Embedded within a visual design that creates associations with scientific reports as well as with briefing papers; i.e. text, with no images, but laid out in a well-organised way to enable scan reading.

The heart of these publications is the Arena Analysis, which has been published annually since 2010 and describes political and social issues that will gain importance in the near future. The Arena Analysis 2017 concerned itself with threats to democracy, incidentally. Where democratic fairness, transparency and co-determination fall by the wayside, it also becomes impossible, in fact, to represent the interests of companies. Autocrats are bad news for business.


Text: Walter Osztovics, Partner and Managing Director at Kovar & Partner.

Despite stylistic adjustments, a change of name and expansion, the profile of K&P has been fundamentally maintained over the years. A long-term strategic communications approach and a focused visual presence are essential brand elements of Austria’s leading lobbying agency.

cdc | Brandcreation works in the fields of corporate branding und corporate identity.

Michael Nouri

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