Mockup of a tablet, desktop, mobile phone, and digital thermostat all showing various features of a thermostat app

Can a house of brands differentiate its portfolio while staying coherent?

Cohesive visual and interaction brand experiences (VIBEs), that differentiate four different brands within one of the world’s largest HVAC management companies.

When you make the world’s best HVAC control systems, you have a lot of different customers with different needs, which means different brands. Keeping each brand experience consistent and unique, though, is no easy task.

  • Honeywell is one of the world’s leading makers of commercial HVAC management systems—the technology that lets building managers control the heating, cooling, andventilation of everything from office buildings to schools to sports arenas. Honeywell’sable to address such a wide range of use cases through a number of sub-brands: Alerton, Tridium, Novar, and Honeywell BCS. And while each of these branded systems offers a different set of strengths and features, their brand and user experience was all over the place, lacking cohesion and undifferentiated from each other. Some products were even rebadged versions of identical products. What Honeywell needed was a unique visual & interaction brand language (VIBL) for each of its sub-brands, and Ziba was who they turned to.

  • Getting the VIBLs right would take more than just a bit of new product or graphic design though. Since each brand includes unique hardware, control software, and even mobile apps, the redesign had to tie these elements together—while setting them apart from each other, and staying true to the overarching Honeywell brand experience. The Ziba team dug into each of the four sub-brands, talking with professional users, observing them in action, and investigating competing brands to understand the unique advantages and character of each. For Novar, this meant a refined, timeless design language; for Alerton, an interface and product design suggesting power, efficiency, and control; Tridium got a smart, adaptable, “Web 3.0” visual brand; at the client’s request, Honeywell BCS was redesigned to be “so simple even a sixth-grader can use it.”

  • As the new VIBLs rolled out, Honeywell had for the first time a suite of clearly defined brand and user experience languages. They not only set themselves apart from each other, but spoke in a meaningful way to the building managers in their target market. This allowed Honeywell to utilize their portfolio more effectively, targeting specific customers with specific brands, and ultimately growing its market share by 9-11% year over year. Since their introduction to the market, the new VIBLs have become the de facto template for all Honeywell Smart Building Business unit brands.

  • Mockup of a tablet, desktop, mobile phone, and digital thermostat all showing various features of a thermostat app

    Mockup of a tablet, desktop, mobile phone, and digital thermostat all showing various features of a thermostat app
White digital thermostat with a blue light strip illuminated on the bottom


Year-over-year sales growth

Honeywell International Inc. is a global Fortune 100 software-industrial company. It primarily operates in four areas of business: aerospace, building technologies, performance materials and technologies, and safety and productivity solutions.

  • Design Strategy

  • Innovation Strategy

  • Brand Insights

  • Trend Insights

  • User Insights

  • Communication Design

  • Digital Design

  • Product Design

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