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Kathy Button Bell, VP-CMO, Emerson

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Kathy Button Bell sees her job as VP-CMO of Emerson as all about simplifying the stories the company tells about its brands. "We have complicated businesses," she said. The $20 billion industrial manufacturing and engineering company has eight brands—including Emerson Process Management, Emerson Network Power and Emerson Climate Technologies—and 77 divisions. Emerson has also had a voracious appetite for acquisitions, buying five companies in the past 12 months.

In her seven years as CMO, Bell has instituted a corporate branding strategy for Emerson and this past year oversaw the company's first major TV campaign. The "Are You Ready?" effort, introduced in March, was designed to emphasize Emerson's ability to anticipate and meet the critical business needs of its customers around the world.

"This year we went to TV to tell our global solutions story," Bell said. "It's the first time Emerson corporate has done TV."

The TV spots—running on CNBC in North America, Europe and Asia, and on Dragon TV in China—focus on four topics: energy efficiency, the communications revolution, global resources and business without borders. The spots tell three customer stories that are set in Patagonia, northern Canada and South Africa. "In each, it's a very high-stakes, difficult problem we're helping our customers solve in a remote location," Bell said.

This latest iteration in the brand message is about going beyond simple problem-solving messages to bigger issues that have broad relevance and impact, she said.

"We are defining ourselves as a global company," she said. "If you look back over the last three years, you see a natural evolution in the way we're trying to teach people our story. Every time you step into another medium you accelerate your brand communication."

Bell said TV provides a better emotional connection than solely running print ads. There are currently five print ads in rotation along with the three TV spots.

"We're diverse, and we want our customers to understand that we are in multiple businesses," she said. "We want them to say, `Oh, my gosh, look how broad their shoulders are. Look how competent they are in all these other businesses.' "

Broadening customer awareness will continue to be a focus for Bell. She said the business environment has changed dramatically, and she wants Emerson to continue to keep pace with that change.

"Industrial manufacturers have historically felt they didn't need to communicate themselves very much," she said. "It is such a different environment than it was even 10 years ago. I don't think Emerson is unique. I think we're one of the companies awakening to that and responding to it." —Carol Krol

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