What’s in a business name? For the oldest Philippine business house, the name Ayala is as valuable as its reputation, to which it has given the utmost importance since its establishment in 1834.
What’s in a business symbol? In a yearlong celebration of its 170th anniversary, Ayala has refreshed its corporate logo as the symbol of its vision and fundamental values that have guided it over the years.
Chairman Don Jaime Zobel de Ayala, leading the celebration, recalls that Ayala began as a distillery business by two entrepreneurs when Manila was little more than a village.
“Age is no virtue in itself,” he notes. ‘What is significant is the way we have survived and prospered, and the meaning we have put into our corporate story.”
Through Ayala’s many milestones,including the decision to develop a major mixed-use community in a swampland in Makati in the 1960s, and the engagement in socio-political struggles that led to People Power uprisings in 1986 and 2001, runs a thread that weaves them all together, Don Jaime says.
“That thread is Ayala’s consistent adherence to a clear business philosophy and values,” he says. “Indeed, we have endured and prospered through the decades, not by flowing with the changing political and social tides but by standing firm on our value systems.”
In affirmation, Ayala president and chief executive officer Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala II, quotes the book Built to Last: “Visionary companies seek profits, but they are equally guided by a core ideology–core values and a sense of purpose beyond just making money.”
All of Ayala’s key executives cite these core values as responsible for Ayala’s reputation for superb management, outstanding products, and effective exercise of social responsibility, which have become part of its tradition and long history.
However, as Mr. Zobel points out,”these values are also what drive us in generating new ideas and continuing to innovate even as we continue our tradition of excellence in all the things we do.”
These values have won high recognition. In an annual survey of leading Philippine companies, readers of the Far Eastern Economic Review have included four Ayala companies, the highest number for a Philippine group: Ayala Corporation, Globe Telecom Inc., Bank of the Philippine Islands, and Ayala Land.
They cited Ayala Corporation and Ayala Land for their long-term vision and financial soundness; Globe for the high quality of its services and products and for innovation in responding to customer needs; and Ayala Corporation and Globe as companies that others try to emulate.
Ayala decided to review its brand as a corporation in 2003, on the eve of its 170th year. It sought to find a symbol for its new brand promise and values, to renew, re-inspire and nurture them in Ayala’s people and all other stakeholders who share them.
Mr. Zobel cited a need to find a way to strengthen and nurture Ayala continually as an institutional brand name while enhancing complementation with the name brands of its subsidiaries and subsidiaries, which have grown powerful themselves.
The brand review involved all levels of the organization. The Zobels–Jaime, Jaime Augusto, Fernando, and other key executives put their ideas together in brainstorming sessions, and employees participated in focus group discussions. They looked into their history, analyzed the present and peered into the future. To help structure the brand review, they hired Hong Kong-based Enterprise IG.
Values and promise
The first step of the process was to define the Ayala “brand promise,” a statement that acts as a directional compass and inspires everything people say and do in Ayala. The essence of the culture was found in a phrase: “Pioneering the future.” Henceforth this will be the endorsement line in all forms of corporate communication.
The brand review process surveyed the array of corporate values that operated in Ayala, to find what lay at the core. The process ultimately led to a set of four: integrity, long-term vision, an empowering leadership, and commitment to national development.
Long-term vision runs through the center of the Ayala story, as Don Jaime observes, citing the company’s many firsts in the Philippines, ranging from its development of central business districts to electronic banking, to GSM wireless phone services.
His son, Jaime Augusto, adds, “Over the past 17 decades our CEOs had visions that they converted into reality by fostering entrepreneurship and the drive for excellence. They took the best paths present in order to reap the rewards of the future.”
Integrity for the company means doing the right thing, even when no one is looking, and being held accountable for all our actions. It results in solid partnerships based on trust.
Don Jaime explains the concept of leadership that empowers: “In the face of diverse issues in increasingly complex situations, our leaders can succeed only by empowering people at all levels to make decisions and to take action within the framework of the shared vision and the culture of innovation, responsibility and accountability.”
Commitment to national development is a major reason Ayala is universally admired. This value runs deep in the soul of the organization. Other foundations recognize the Ayala Foundation as one of the most deeply involved and most operationally active among them, with its far-reaching achievements in areas of education, youth development, integrated community development, environment, technology and its programs for culture and the arts.
Renewed rallying point
With focus on the brand promise and the core values, the brand review process resulted in a symbol that renews Ayala’s rallying point for its citizens.
Retained is the unique Ayala icon, a symbol of solid achievements, which was created by the late Fernando Zobel, Don Jaime’s late uncle, who was one of the most progressive Philippine artists during his time.
Added is a new word mark “Ayala” in a warm color tone representing vigor and eagerness to continue “pioneering the future.”
At the brand launch held for Ayala officers and employees, Don Jaime declared: “Today, the Ayala name and the Ayala icon have become one symbol for pioneering the future and the core values that we have consistently upheld: integrity, long-term vision, empowering leadership, and commitment to national development.”
The Ayala icon consists of a stylized pair of double-line As, interlocking at the center. These are actually a stylized A, the first letter of the company’s name, rendered four times in blue in free space. Within the blue color are four, straight white lines which suggest movement either pointing to or emanating from the core.
In the way a flag with carefully chosen colors and elements rallies together and inspires citizens, the Ayala brand serves as an emblem and an energizing call to nurture the core values and live up to the promise of pioneering the future.
Internal and external publics
While it is intended primarily for the people of Ayala, the refreshed brand readily elicits a similar response among the investors, partners and many others in the general public who share these core values. It reinforces the Ayala reputation as the company that attracts the best people and develops the finest professionals, and is the partner of choice for the best Philippine and international corporations.
The Ayala subsidiaries and affiliates, including Ayala Land, BPI, Globe, and AC Capital, which have their own varied subsidiaries and affiliates, remain as stand-alone strategic business units. “They are,” says Mr. Zobel, “Ayala’s core business pioneering the future with Ayala.”
For the brand promise of “pioneering the future,” Ayala has created a directional symbol, the “pioneering arrow” that it can use in some of its corporate and marketing communications materials. The arrow, derived from the Ayala icon, can instantly identify business profiles, annual reports, press statements, advertisements, and websites as collaterals belonging to Ayala. The arrows will serve as the frequent visual reminder of Ayala’s promise to pioneer the future.
“Refreshed branding after 170 years makes it a true milestone for Ayala citizens, for our corporate soul,” says Mr. Zobel.
“Except in legal documents, we will no longer use our legal entity name Ayala Corporation,” he says. “We will be simply known as Ayala.”