How We Brought the Valuable Nature of Rhodia to Life
To make a rare earth element – found only in China – available to the world to help manufacture energy-efficient lighting
To develop politically-sensitive brand identity that would honor and reinforce a Sino-French business alliance
Rhodia, a French chemical company operating in China, needed a global brand and trademark for a new product: a chemical process that conserved the rare element terbium, which is used in the manufacture of phosphor for energy-efficient lighting. The process would allow Rhodia to become a critical player in the green energy arena.
To make it happen, Rhodia had to navigate China business politics very carefully. Because China is the only global source for terbium, in a highly-sensitive and uneven political climate, Rhodia knew that a single misstep could lose them millions. As such, Rhodia had three critical criteria for the new name:
- It had to carry an allusion to the nature of the phosphor itself.
- It had to have a compelling associated “brand story” that showed appropriate respect for China.
- It had to be trademarkable internationally.
Stuart McFaul implemented a massive multi-national research initiative using global business development and marketing experts to create an irrefutable branding dossier that would meet and exceed all stakeholder demands.
The brand name Stuart elected – MorningStar – supported multiple brand goals. First, it is an alternate name for the god Phosphor; second, MorningStar is the star that rises in the East (China) to bring the world into a new day. As a result, the name was grounded in the ancient history of the element while also serving as a means to show respect to China.
Using the new name as a point of inspiration, we positioned Rhodia and its process as the result of a successful partnership with China to ensure global demand for green energy-efficient lighting could be met. This positioning successfully linked China and Rhodia as partners who were blazing a trail for resource conservation, putting both China and Rhodia on the world stage as eco-conservation leaders.
By highlighting the value of phosphor, of China being the source for its base element, and the symbiotic value of the China-Rhodia partnership, the MorningStar brand drew tremendous praise from Chinese government officials, who appreciated it as both a gesture of respect and as a proof point for their support of global green initiatives at a time when the country was being criticized for its environmental standards. The brand resulted in a long-term government contract for Rhodia, with potential revenues in the tens of millions of dollars.