New Holland is a name that crops up all over the place: on the map, as a town in Pennsylvania, U.S.A.; in Italy, on Juventus football shirts, as the club’s sponsor; in farms on every continent, as the agricultural equipment of choice. The New Holland business is part of a global, multi-billion dollar enterprise, born of several mergers and acquisitions over the decades, now majority owned by the FIAT Group. With automotive markets in retreat, their agri-business was proving resilient but, with tough times in prospect, FIAT decided to apply its proven management approach to New Holland and brandstory was commissioned to explore a future direction for the New Holland brand.
A significant brand opportunity was uncovered. Despite the ubiquity of its name, the New Holland brand was lagging behind its business, rather than driving it forward. A decade before, FIAT had wisely decided to collate the agricultural operations it had acquired under one of its brand names – New Holland – and promptly felt a positive response from its multivariate stakeholders around the world. What it had not done was follow this up with a brand strategy (let alone brand story) that united its various constituents beyond that name. Back then, New Holland tractors were still produced in Italy by FIAT people and in Northern Europe by Ford people; in the Netherlands, its leadership in combine harvesters was traced to its Claeysen heritage, whilst in U.S.A. the name still stood, above all, for its pre-eminent baling equipment.
What the New Holland brand had not articulated in the ‘90s – and still had not a decade later – was the advantage of its multi-cultural heritage to farmers whose own needs range far and wide, nor the story that connected its constituencies. What brandstory discovered, in the company’s far flung vaults, was that each of the enterprises that eventually comprised New Holland was founded by an entrepreneur with a remarkably similar vision: to make farming simpler and so more productive for each long-suffering farmer. These founding fathers were the Land Pioneers.
From Giovanni Agnelli’s engines to Abe Zimmerman’s Feed and Cob Mill, from Leon Claeys threshing cereals in Flanders fields to Henry Ford production lines rolling out tractors to Britain and the world, the Land Pioneers changed the farmer’s life forever. And gave New Holland a global brand story of salience for every local farmer.
It will take time for New Holland to reap all the benefits its brand story has sown but already, even before they fully impact the brand’s marketing, the Land Pioneers have been inspiring anew the company’s leadership, its vision and its product planning for the coming decades. More than just a name, New Holland will be making farming easier – from the Mississippi to the Yangtze – for some time to come.