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Elsevier’s assignment to BrandingBusiness began as a much more contained but, nonetheless, extensive exercise in evaluating a vast portfolio of publications, imprints and databases and put in place an architecture framework and guidelines to manage and stem the unchecked growth of names and brands.

It soon became clear, however, that this effort could not be confined to the level of product brands alone. As a business, Elsevier was moving rapidly into digital information, analytics and decision support technologies for professionals in science and healthcare. In order to compete credibly with established technology-based giants such as Google, Amazon and Bloomberg, the value and role of the Elsevier brand itself, hidden behind a proliferation of brands and acquisitions, had to be assessed and considered in a broader strategy context.


In 1995 a headline in Forbes magazine posed a disturbing question in relation to Elsevier: "The Internet’s first casualty?"

Times were changing dramatically. The Elsevier name has been a constant and influential presence in the great narratives of science and medicine for more than 400 years. Inspired by the 17th century Dutch publishing house that gave a platform to an imprisoned Galileo, Elsevier began 137 years ago as a modern company, and the pre-eminent publisher of the world’s best scientific literature. Indeed, Elsevier has been an institutional catalyst of long standing for scientific exploration, discovery and achievement.

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As a traditional publisher of thousands of prestigious scientific books and journals, the advent of the Internet posed challenges, and opportunities, to Elsevier.

Elsevier converted its publications from print to digital within a decade-and-a-half, then pivoted to focus on building and acquiring new technologies to harness the potential in the data, content, and networks they had built. The burgeoning ubiquity of freely-available information on the Internet, albeit of highly-questionable reliability, set a backdrop of heightened urgency for Elsevier to define and assert its value.


Research Insights

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Far from being a liability, the Elsevier brand, albeit draped with the legacy of its publishing past, proved to have the resilient power needed to move the company into a new, technology-based future.

The compelling truth of the Elsevier brand, validated with deep research, is the active role Elsevier plays, and has always played, in the verification and advancement of knowledge, regardless of medium. Elsevier empowers knowledge by bringing it to the world and making it usable; that knowledge, in turn, empowers its users to make new discoveries and better decisions. With this brand platform in place a comprehensive brand strategy and visual identity based on “Empowering Knowledge” was developed and implemented with the brand objective of casting Elsevier in a future context, not least for recruitment purposes, as a global leader in a newly-defined category of “Information Analytics.”


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Working closely with the Elsevier Brand Council, BrandingBusiness developed a multi-year roadmap to implement the brand strategy based on new corporate narrative, revised core statements (Purpose, Mission, and Vision), and a restructured brand architecture constructed on workflow-aligned solution suites strongly tied to the Elsevier Masterbrand, rather than products and internal silos.

Internally, every employee has been taken through the Elsevier brand strategy to inform and educate people on the company’s direction.

Externally, Elsevier has been recast as a global information analytics company, combining valuable content with technology and enriched with artificial intelligence and data analytics to provide actionable decision support tools for millions of scientists and healthcare professionals around the world.

By applying advanced technology and analytics to the world’s most authoritative body of scientific knowledge, enabling collaboration through best-in-class platforms, Elsevier is supporting the world’s scientists and healthcare professionals as never before to answer the most urgent human questions and find solutions to the most pressing human needs.

Elsevier is a division of RELX, world-leading provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries.

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