Advertisment
Loading...

Communicating Who We Really Are

Pointing hand with illuminated network above

26 August 2021 | Valerie Nicole van den Berg, IOS Press, Amsterdam, NL
When I started working as an intern at IOS Press, I found it difficult to find information on the company’s culture, future plans, or employees. My initial impression was that of a strict, formal, conservative, and perhaps even old-fashioned company. In my nearly 2 years working on the branding strategy at IOS Press, I have learned that my first impression was completely incorrect, and that the company is more flexible, nurturing, and innovative than I ever anticipated.

A branding journey and how to make the correct first impression

by Valerie Nicole van den Berg, IOS Press, Amsterdam, NL

When I started working as an intern at IOS Press, I found it difficult to find information on the company’s culture, future plans, or employees. My initial impression was that of a strict, formal, conservative, and perhaps even old-fashioned company. In my nearly 2 years working on the branding strategy at IOS Press, I have learned that my first impression was completely incorrect, and that the company is more flexible, nurturing, and innovative than I ever anticipated.

In 2019, I began working at IOS Press as an intern in the marketing department as part of the final requirement for my BA Media and Entertainment Management at NHL Stenden in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. This culminated last year, when I submitted my thesis on defining, improving, and better communicating the IOS Press corporate brand. 

Pointing hand with illuminated network above

 

Brand recognition

For nearly 35 years, IOS Press has been solidifying its position as a successful independent scientific/technical/medical (STM) publisher. The company has grown to publish a portfolio of journals and books that are highly regarded by a range of scientific communities. However, in my almost two years at IOS Press, I’ve learned that while people are very familiar with some of our titles, they are not familiar with IOS Press as the company publishing these titles – a problem of brand recognition and brand identity.

After researching the STM publishing industry, company, and internal culture, a project group was created consisting of several colleagues from several different departments. Together, we worked on improving IOS Press branding and messaging through analyses, interviews, brainstorming, and testing. We determined the company’s strengths and weaknesses (internal) and assessed opportunities and threats (external). We established our next steps with one question in mind: How can we become better at communicating who we really are?

Post-its on a wall

 

Our real identity

Using a theory by van der Grinten and Weijnand-Schut (see Box 1), the project team focused on establishing IOS Press’ ideal identity (proposed brand elements), true identity (internal perception), and its physical brand identity. The aim was to create a brand that depicts IOS Press’ modern and flexible nature more clearly than it currently does. In order to create our ideal identity, several new brand elements have been formulated and tested internally, which have resulted in new:

These brand elements have been tested internally throughout the development process, which has contributed to an atmosphere of inclusivity and transparency. Many conversations were held with colleagues from all departments, and I tried to make sure to implement everyone’s feedback through all stages of our work. As part of my thesis, colleagues from across the company were invited to participate in interviews regarding the current brand identity, internal culture, and the proposed new brand elements. This resulted in extremely valuable feedback from several departments in the construction of this ideal identity. 

Box 1: Branding theory

Extract from research thesis “Re-Identifying IOS Press” by Valerie Nicole van den Berg
In order to gain brand equity, the brand identity must be established first [1]. According to van der Grinten and Weijnand-Schut [2], there are four types of brand identity:

  • Ideal identity: Proposed brand identity, consisting of new brand elements that should include a mission, vision, and core values.
  • True identity: Internal perception of the brand identity and internal culture.
  • Physical identity: All visible outings of the brand identity, this includes brand elements, websites, promotion material, packaging and more.
  • Image: External perception of the brand identity by company’s stakeholders (see Note 1). 

Note 1: Due to COVID-19 and time restrictions, it was decided not to focus on the Image for this research.

In line with one of our primary goals, increasing community engagement, we have already (re-)launched several information products and online initiatives, such as LD Connect, our linked data platform, and Labs. We are actively participating in STM industry initiatives and, with a view towards creating a better world for future generations, we have adjusted our workflows to contribute to the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals. Importantly, we will be communicating about all these initiatives – and more – on our redesigned corporate website.

During my internship, I was mentored by Saskia van Wijngaarden, head of marketing at the company. Saskia comments, “During her internship, Valerie explored the different brand elements of IOS Press and how they come across with respect to our various stakeholders – librarians, authors and readers. Her encouragement, backed by her valuable knowledge of branding and social media, has fortified our initiatives and the way we present our company to the world.” 

 

What’s next?

We have been working on the rebirth of the IOS Press brand, the centerpiece of which is the relaunch of a completely modernized corporate website at iospress.com that better reflects our organization’s true personality and core values. We have also been creating a roadmap to align all our messaging with the new and improved IOS Press brand identity. New design elements for our online and offline communication – including a new logo – have been created. It’s been quite a job that involved almost everyone on staff, and we’re very excited to show the results of our hard work and to finally share a better look at who we really are as a company.  

 

References

1. K.L. Keller, Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring, and Managing Brand Equity, 4th Edn (Pearson Education; 2013).
2. J. van der Grinten and H. Weijnand-Schut, Mind the Gap: Stappenplan Identiteit en Imago, 4th Edn (Boom Uitgevers Amsterdam; 2017).

About the Author

Valerie Nicole van den Berg started at IOS Press in 2019 as an intern and marketing assistant, during which time she wrote her bachelor’s thesis on improving the brand identity of the company. In 2021, her role changed to community management coordinator and she is now responsible for working on branding, communication, and engagement with the communities in the IOS Press ecosystem.