Dow is a leading chemical company providing a wide range of innovative chemical, plastic, agricultural products and services to many consumer markets. The company is developing a new global positioning profile, particularly in light of its acquisition of Union Carbide. The Ketchum Reputation Laboratory (KRL) applied its Brandbuilder technology to link the reputational attributes of Dow to business outcomes for the purpose of deriving a new positioning strategy that would maximize business outcomes such as analysts’ recommendations for stock purchase. The KRL is a new research function at Ketchum that uses innovative research designs to quantify the benefits of improving a company’s reputation.


Define the corporate reputation for Dow and Union Carbide for investors, consumers, analysts, Influential Americans, and local communities where Dow operates

Identify the key drivers of reputation that lead to business improvement

Incorporate all existing Dow reputation and brand research, including that among employees and customer, to produce a single recommendation about how it should develop its global corporate position

Identify external challenges to such a position, particularly in the form of environmental issues

Determine if internal communicators could be aligned with a new global positioning


“Brandbuilder” Research – Conducted research and analysis for Dow, Union Carbide and their competitors using:  Fortune Magazine America’s Most Admired Corporations Data, 1984-2000, 2000 Fortune/Roper Corporate Reputation Index, Carma imMEDIAte, Dow Jones.

Existing Dow Research – Compiled all previous key research done by Dow in:  Community Relations, Employee Relations, Environment, and Brand Management

Communication Survey – Survey of 17 internal communications personnel.

Strategy Development – Develop a consistent positioning strategy based on the combination of the Brandbuilder, review of all other Dow research to date, and the internal communications survey.


Dow has consistently enjoyed an excellent reputation. Alternatively, Union Carbide’s reputation is consistently poor.  The implication for the acquisition is to highlight Dow’s new size, by not any of Union Carbide’s reputational features.

Through statistical analysis, it was found that Dow’s reputation is closely tied to financial strength, investment value, innovativeness and environmental responsibility.  These results were consistent with all other Dow research that was reviewed.

Public environmental concern is high, and Dow suffers from being in an industry perceived to have negative consequences for the environment. The company is also rated relatively poorly on environmental responsibility in the communities where it operates. Dow should maintain its focus on excellent financial performance, while increasing awareness of Dow’s positive environmental results. For example, it should increase external awareness of cutting toxic emissions by 43% in Midland, Michigan, Dow’s headquarters.

The survey of the company’s communicators found alignment with a new positioning strategy would be relatively easy to obtain.
The insights gained from the Brandbuilder research, as well as all related tasks are being used as the basis for Dow’s new global corporate positioning which will be presented to its top executive team in the early spring of 2001.