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The DB brand strategy

Sympathetic and modern with a wide focus – these are the aims for the DB brand which are the focus of Deutsche Bahn’s brand strategy and which we achieve with three brand strategy components: structure, content and design. Whilst the structural level trains its sight on the fundamental direction of the brand, the content level first and foremost communicates what the brand represents. As a result, the design level – the visual brand identity – is also consistently intertwined.

Brand architecture (brand strategy and structure)

Deutsche Bahn pursues an umbrella brand strategy with a few strong brands. This strategy is based on a clear definition of the term ‘brand’. The following three characteristics distinguish the DB brands from the next level, the products and services:

  1. Internal brand positioning
  2. Internal corporate design
  3. Signatory function in the communication


Clear focus on the DB brand

EditThe core of our brand strategy is a clear focus on the DB brand, architecturally manifested through paramount importance and consistent use of the logo and with its content bolstered by a strong brand purpose and a unique brand positioning. The Group, national and international passenger transport, rail freight transport and service providers thus all appear uniformly under the DB logo.The only exceptions are the brand identity of the infrastructure under the DB Netze brand, logistics under the DB Schenker brand and our foreign business in passenger transport under the brand ‘Arriva – a DB Company’.

Exceptions to this architecture are permitted on the basis of objective testing criteria within the context of digital brand architecture and only following expert assessment by GNM12.

Digital brand architecture

Digitisation is changing society and, in particular, the competitive environment in which the Group operates. New competitors force us to be innovative and willing to make changes. Much has been done in this arena over the years in the Group. Many new business models have been developed and successfully launched. This has often happened with all-new brands which from the outside don’t necessarily appear to belong to DB. Innovative business models are thus no longer associated with DB and don’t benefit the Group brand. But that’s exactly what needs to happen to ensure the impression of a contemporary brand in future, too.


‘For the future of the DB brand, it’s important that customers associate innovative topics with DB’ 
  • How is our digital brand architecture defined?
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    The digital brand architecture pursues two aims: to consolidate the DB brand and generate freedom for innovative business models. We can achieve these two aims, which are not always easy to pursue in parallel, with the digital brand strategy. The solution: a five-stage model which, via intermediate steps, leads from the normal case of a 100% DB brand to, in exceptional cases, fully independent brands.

  • How are decisions made?
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    A decision tree defines clear rules, taking into account, for example, whether excessive dominance of DB could threaten success, a negative image could be transferred to the Group brand or there’s a need for neutrality (e.g. for platforms such as Qixxit). For minority stakes, the interests of the other investors have to be taken into account.

  • Case: Smart City I DB
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Brand purpose and brand positioning
(brand strategy and content)

The brand purpose and brand positioning define the importance of our Group brand content and thus pursue, in the definition of our brand content, the triad of questions ‘Why?’, ‘How?’ and ‘What?’ – a common model that goes back to Simon Sinek.

The brand purpose (‘Why?’) answers the question about the reason for our existence. The brand positioning expresses which attributes describe our activities (‘How?’). ‘What?’ we do is defined by the direct promise of our products.

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'What'
The Group's service portfolio forms the 'What': Long-distance transport, Regio, cargo, employer, etc.


'How'
The brand positioning defines the 'How': Strong, sympathetic, creative


'Why'
The brand purpose expresses the 'Why': We connect people, markets and opportunities

  • DB brand purpose – ‘Why?’
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      So that We can win
      We connect people, markets and opportunities

      Regardless of where you come from or where our journey will lead us tomorrow, we are the pulse of mobile life. Both today and in the future, we ensure geographical as well as personal and cultural connection.

      On behalf of people, we promote ideas and make innovations accessible to everyone in order to confidently pursue a future that’s also worth living tomorrow. While not everything will always go according to plan on our journey, we will do what we can to ensure we all progress a little each and every day – and achieve our aims as a community.

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      So that We can win
      Brand manifesto

      Whatever our plans are.
      Doing what you love and simply completing the job to the best of your ability.
      We look to the future.
      Our orders are to be confident.
      Each and every one of us.

      Regardless of where you come from and what makes you tick.
      Together we’ll find a way.
      Transform the unimaginable into opportunities.
      So that complex things become a matter of course.

      It won’t be easy.
      But even when the going gets tough, it will still be worth our while.
      Rolling up our sleeves together.
      Connecting people, markets and opportunities.
      So that We can win.
      Because that’s what will make our tomorrow worth living.  

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  • DB brand positioning – ‘How?’
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  • DB Schenker positioning
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    DB Schenker is the brand for global transport and logistics services, combining the strengths of the DB logo with the internationally renowned and established brand name Schenker. Through the strong, distinguished brand, DB offers global transport and logistics services all from a single source.

    The brand promise
    DB Schenker’s core promise to the market is to offer sustainable, integrated transport and logistics solutions. Because it combines and offers cross-modal transport chains – on the road, on the water and in the air – the brand has unique potential to distinguish itself.

    The slogan
    DB Schenker’s brand identity is uniform the world over, with the ‘Delivering solutions’ slogan. DB Schenker’s core services are succinctly expressed in a way that is understandable around the globe.

  • DB Netze positioning
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    DB Netze is the brand for Deutsche Bahn’s infrastructure segment.

    The brand promise
    It promises to develop and operate a comprehensive range of reliable and innovative transport and energy networks. DB Netze thus provides the platform every day that allows Deutsche Bahn and other railway companies to offer outstanding mobility and logistics services. DB Netze reliably and safely develops and operates Europe’s longest and most efficient rail network. With a rail network, stations and energy systems, the brand offers everything required for successful rail business, all from a single source. With years of experience in optimally networking technology, infrastructure and modes of transport, the brand is an important driver of innovation for the perfect combination of complete mobility and logistics chains. DB Netze thus supports Deutsche Bahn’s service promise to its customers over the long term.

    The slogan
    DB Netze uses the brand slogan ‘We’ve got the future covered’ in its communication, combining the basic character of networks with the brand’s innovative standards.