Case study: GS1 US

Brand essence and simplifying communication for a complex business

GS1 US plays an amazing role in making it possible for businesses of all kinds to run. We help tell that story. After years of clarifying and building the brand, Bailey is now an integral extension of its organization. Learn about how we got there.


GS1 is a global business and supply chain standards organization operating in over 100 countries. GS1 US essentially developed the barcode and today creates and administers a wide range of standards used in industries from retail to healthcare to food service. Every time you check out at the supermarket, receive the right medication at the pharmacy or search for a product online, GS1 standards are helping to make that possible.

GS1 US, like any business, is not immune to the stereotypes people create when you represent a big concept. A lingering narrow perception as the “barcode” organization limited the awareness of the ever-expanding solutions it offers and the increasing influence it has within all the industries it serves.

Despite its fundamental and varied role in driving commerce, GS1 US saw inconsistencies in its ability to communicate that role, both internally and to its members. Many of the organization’s explanations of what it does often feel technical and complex. How could GS1 US define and distill its message and role in industry? How could it simplify and unify the complex experience that members had with the brand? How could it align its staff to communicate its proposition consistently and help its stakeholders understand and access all that GS1 US offered?

  • GS1 US EPC Readiness Program RFID video
  • GS1 US Standards in Action booklets
  • GS1 US Annual Overview 2015

How we partnered together

An intense immersion into the structure, operations and audience perceptions of GS1 US set the foundation for a significant shift in how the organization thought about its brand and business.

In-depth consultation with internal stakeholders, industry workgroups and standards users as well as other external research and analysis helped us to identify specific opportunities. Research revealed GS1 US was valued for the level of engagement it had established among market leaders, the ability to remain neutral while promoting the use and benefits of the GS1 Standards, and its connection to a large global network, GS1 Global. But the organization did little to differentiate its members despite the difference in a member’s company, size and needs.

Bailey Brand Consulting developed and implemented three core strategies to begin to help change perceptions of the organization:

  1. A consistent brand positioning and brand values for leadership and staff to follow and use as a communication tool to ensure everyone understood the importance of the organization’s efforts.
  2. The creation of a framework for how GS1 can think of its role and interaction with industry as a whole and with the range of individual member companies. This helped segment member needs and associated level of engagement, ultimately shaping the brand experience of each member.
  3. A comprehensive branding and communication system to bridge the gap between internal and external perceptions. This system employed an intuitive iconographic visual aesthetic, industry and member segment messaging, and a progressive story to simplify the complex solutions many members did not understand or even realize were available.

Telling the brand story at GS1 Connect

GS1 US plays a unique role in bringing a variety of industries, businesses and trading partners together to agree on common standards at the annual GS1 Connect Conference. Bailey partners closely with GS1 US to make the event happen and tell its brand story. In 2015, the three-day event hosted over 1,300 participants, conducted 33 Trading Partner Roundtables and 59 Industry Sessions, and exposed attendees to thought leadership from innovators such as Guy Kawasaki.

  • GS1 US Connect 2015 stage
  • GS1 US Connect 2015 Retail Grocery Zone in the Exhibit Hall
  • GS1 US Connect 2015 Bob Carpenter speech
  • GS1 US Connect 2015 Rainey Street networking event
  • GS1 US Connect 2015 keynote speaker Guy Kawasaki

What happened next

All of these efforts reshaped the position of the organization and evolved its associated perception from the “barcode” organization to a provider of solutions that advance the “Global Language of Business.” Today GS1 US presents itself in a unified, consistent manner, speaking distinctly to each member and its needs. GS1’s member base has grown year-over-year and the services it longed to have greater usage of have increased in adoption. The partnership with Bailey has also grown. Today, all marketing and communications requirements are managed through Bailey, which ensures continuity and consistency of the brand experience. As these efforts further advance the understanding of the GS1 US business, Bailey Brand Consulting is called on to provide counsel on new ventures, initiatives and innovations, ensuring the new standards and position of the brand are reflected in these efforts.