The S&P Global brand has entered Brand Finance’s ranking of the worlds’ most valuable brands for the first time in 2021, with a value of US$ 8.7 billion. The inclusion in the ranking reflects that the company’s divisions previously considered separate brands – S&P Global Ratings, S&P Global Market Intelligence, S&P Global Platts and S&P Dow Jones Indices – are now recognised as falling under a single master brand. We interviewed Courtney Geduldig, the company's Chief Public and Government Affairs Officer, who talked about the rapidly changing role of technology in business and the importance of a strong CEO at times of crisis.
2021 marks the 5-year anniversary of the major rebrand from McGraw Hill Financial, and over this period the business has changed significantly through acquisition and divestment. S&P Global aims to deliver Essential Intelligence through all its operations, and this message is clarified through a consistent positioning of the master brand, which has driven greater familiarity and favourability among consumers and policy influencers. A new challenge for the group concerns how to maximise brand value and brand strength following the agreement in November to merge with analytics group IHS Markit.
S&P Global CEO Douglas L. Peterson has also been recognised this year, as he features at 90th place in the Brand Guardianship Index 2021 ranking of the 100 top chief executives. Douglas has led the company’s transformation into the leading data and analytics provider globally through his strong vision and execution of that vision.
Interview with Courtney Geduldig
What role does technology play in the relationship between S&P Global and your stakeholders, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Sustained investments in technology have been an S&P Global priority for years now, but the pandemic helped to sharpen our focus and strengthen our strategic conviction. When the reality of an extended work-from-home period became clear, we were able to move seamlessly and ensure that 99% of our employees could work remotely essentially overnight. Our Chief Information Officer often says that he is now managing 23,000 S&P Global offices rather than the 68 offices we had globally pre-pandemic. In addition, we shipped thousands of laptops to employees who didn’t have access to mobile computers prior to COVID-19. The support and flexibility of our CFO to provide resources was instrumental in delivering these results. Our investments also made it more practical to keep in touch with our other key stakeholders—our customers—through remote collaboration and a pivot to digital events, helping us deliver essential intelligence in an uninterrupted fashion. I don’t think we envisioned the pivot we would have to make as a company nor that we would be able to do it so easily, but without the groundwork laid by our technology leadership we could not have moved so well to delivering our events, bilateral meetings, multilateral conversations, and collaborative work environments to customers, employees and stakeholders so seamlessly.
How has the S&P Global master brand strategy been used to enhance the company’s divisional structure?
It’s a particularly timely period to discuss the incredible success we’ve had with the S&P Global master brand. As one company unified by a singular brand purpose and shared values, we are better able to meet the needs of our customers and markets. That one brand – S&P – carries an enormous amount of weight in the markets but we had to define what it would mean for the future. As we built that identity under one brand, we set ourselves up to be strategically positioned to endure the unforeseen challenges of 2020 and 2021 and to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. This year, we’re celebrating our fifth anniversary under the S&P Global banner, alongside the 80th anniversary of the merger that formed Standard & Poor’s Corporation in 1941. We are incredibly proud of the depth of historical brand equity we have in several segments, but I am also amazed at how far we’ve come with the new S&P Global brand in a relatively short time. Our scores on key brand characteristics like trustworthiness, dependability and reliability increased significantly over this five-year period and we take that as a great proxy for client satisfaction.
Douglas Peterson is included in the 2021 Brand Guardianship Index ranking of the top 100 CEOs – how does the S&P Global brand benefit from a strong CEO?
As I mentioned earlier, we have made immense amounts of progress on our effort to transform S&P Global into the leading data and analytics provider over the last decade, and Doug’s vision and leadership is clearly the main catalyst in that process. He has streamlined our businesses and focused on some prescient investments in key growth areas like ESG, resulting in a deeper and broader range of environmental, social and governance data and analytical tools. From the very beginning, Doug believed in the power and the strength of this brand and understood that we had to invest in it and protect it for it to thrive. As a leadership team, we have all been on board with his vision for the brand and every one of us wants to eventually leave this iconic brand stronger than when we got here.
Doug has also been closely engaged on a range of issues that go beyond the boardroom, from his leadership role on the Business Roundtable to his longstanding commitment to promoting investment in infrastructure. Finally, Doug is passionate about sharing the lessons he’s learned while leading through various crises, from challenging periods in Japan and Latin America down to the current global health crisis. He often talks about the types of opportunities that are borne out of turmoil and change. It takes flexibility and foresight to resolve challenges on a global scale, and Doug has demonstrated the way with integrity and an emphasis on customer and employee satisfaction. Doug has been a leader that others want to follow, and he has led with a true conviction to the S&P Global brand and its legacy.