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Victoria Morrissey

Victoria Morrissey



Marketing and Technology

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Trendsetters: Caterpillar's Victoria Morrissey Discusses the Power of Emotion and the Humanity of Purpose

The Internationalist Trendsetters is written by Deborah Malone, founder of The Internationalist.

Victoria Morrissey is the Global Marketing & Brand Director of Caterpillar, the iconic, nearly century-old manufacturer of construction and mining equipment that's unmistakable with its bright yellow color on any job site. Since joining the company in 2017, she has been leading the brand's global efforts to better connect with customer needs throughout the world by creating a purpose, vision and voice that resonates meaningfully.  In the process, she has learned a tremendous amount about what she calls "the trap of the granular," as well as customer commitment, the power of emotion and the humanity of purpose.

Her efforts have resulted in an inspiring expression of Caterpillar's mission called "Let's Do the Work."  See it here:

To craft this story, Victoria Morrissey looked for the connection among the customers that Caterpillar serves across a wide range of industries, countries and cultures.  She saw them as a community of "do-ers" -- connected by a brand that stands for progress and helps customers physically build a better world.  Speaking at the ANA's Masters of B2B Conference earlier this summer, she said: "We live in an increasingly intangible world where ‘saying' has become a substitute for actually doing something. Our enemy is inaction. Caterpillar exists to triumph over inaction so our do-ers can make work happen.  Our customers go to work every day and make stuff. They do work that matters."

While she jokes that it ordinarily takes a village to sell a marketing concept into engineering, she admits that this effort was the easiest thing her team ever sold through to management.  "Let's Do the Work" has become an enterprise anthem.  She emphasizes that marketing started with the needs and challenges of Caterpillar's customers, who shared the same life-work ethics as the company.  She adds: "Progress lives at the intersection of technology and dirt.  This is where you learn the meaning of reliability." Caterpillar is a brand that endures.

Victoria Morrissey also believes in American author and former dotcom business executive Seth Godin's famous description that "A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer's decision to choose one product or service over another." She agrees with Godin that "a brand is emotional shorthand for accumulated or assumed information."  

She adds, "Emotion is sometimes seen as the enemy of logic, but no decisions are completely rational, especially when you're or signing off on a fleet of construction equipment.  In business-to-business, the power of emotion is deeply connected to risk.  When you think about what excavator you're going to use to dig a building, the risk is massive. Your credibility, your reputation, safety, the ability to deliver on time—all are at risk. And with high risk, emotion spikes.

For Victoria Morrissey, storytelling and data are deeply connected.  "Story is what a customer holds in their minds; it drives recommendation and loyalty.  Data helps form a better story.  It's a connected ecosystem, and this fundamentally changed Cat."  

Yet, she advocates: "Understand the individual parts of your brand story, but don't overlook the power and elegance of the whole. Avoid the ‘trap of the granular.' If we don't find what unites, we can't tell that story at scale. And we lose the greater sense of purpose and humanity."

She took this into account when taking the "Let's Do the Work" campaign from the US to China.  "We looked for elements that were complementary and reemphasized the mission.  In China, progress matters.  It's a huge source of national pride.  So, we trans-created and the US motto of ‘Let's Do the Work' became ‘Doers Help China's Dreams Come True' for Caterpillar's Chinese audience." After 12 weeks, Caterpillar's competitive ranking went from three to one.

"Our brand purpose," says Morrissey, "lies at the intersection how we communicate why we are in business and how we help people overcome the barriers and tensions that exist in their work and culture. Marketing without direct connection to brand purpose is just an intrusion on your everyday."

Victoria Morrissey is responsible for constantly evolving the impact of one of the world's greatest brands, leading Caterpillar's end-to-end enterprise marketing capabilities, brand identity, global licensing business, global brand sponsorships and the Cat Industrial Design team. Upon joining Caterpillar, Victoria brought with her a rare combination of a brand and marketing professional with 20-plus years of B2B and B2C experience spanning clients, industries and marketing disciplines. Putting the customer at the center of all efforts, her leadership and passionate drive make her a highly effective marketing leader and cross-functional collaborator. 

Prior to Caterpillar, Ms. Morrissey served as the marketing director at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Chicago. Before that, Victoria was director of brand, content and private label marketing at Grainger, where she launched a brand platform that delivered double-digit growth in key market segments and successfully grew multiple brands, all while building high-performing, cross-functional teams. She holds a master's degree in advertising and a bachelor's in marketing from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Fluent in German, Victoria spends her free time writing, cooking and doing pro-bono marketing work for causes that are very near and dear to her.