The year that The Thomson Corporation (now Thomson Reuters) listed on the New York Stock Exchange, they were challenged by a lack of corporate image. Previously merely a holding company, they now needed to find a way to illustrate themselves as a cohesive brand. They were the world’s largest information company, but they were also its least known. Thomson did not produce a lot of corporate communications materials, but their annual report was the binding document for the company and served as the public face of the corporation. They approached us because they felt that the brand image conveyed in the previous year’s annual report slanted towards marketing and felt that as the key brand material, the report should be produced within the framework of brand communications. The difference in tone—marketing as a hyperbolic statement of context as opposed to communications informed by a need to connect and create relationships with the readers.
Real leaders don’t posture
Our approach, which incorporates anthropological and social research, was attractive to Thomson, and the result was a very different image in the annual report under our creative.
Rather than having Thomson talk about themselves, we invited three thought leaders in the field to frame the information in the report. Specifically, they spoke to the coming digitizing of the knowledge economy without speaking directly about Thomson—allowing the reader to then use the information about Thomson that followed in the report to place Thomson in the logical space described by the thought leaders. The resulting document was understated, rich and convincing of Thomson’s place in the market. It placed them firmly at the head of the digital information wave as they went public.