Bad Corporate Branding: Mondelez, Ingredion, AbbVie

Bad Corporate Branding: Mondelez, Ingredion, AbbVie

Renaming or rebranding of large, established, successful corporations is often the result of a merger, or restructuring. In 2012 and 2013, it happens that three such corporate rebrandings occurred in my own backyard, Chicago, with less than spectacular results:  Mondelez, Ingredion and AbbVie.

A World of Brand Hurt at Mondelez

From the Press release:
NORTHFIELD, Ill., March 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Kraft Foods Inc. (NYSE:KFT) today announced plans to change its corporate name to Mondelez International, Inc.  “Mondelez” (pronounced mohn-dah-LEEZ’) is a newly coined word that evokes the idea of “delicious world.”  “Monde” derives from the Latin word for “world,” and “delez” is a fanciful expression of “delicious.” In addition, “International” captures the global nature of the business.

As previously announced, Kraft Foods is dividing to create two industry-leading public companies before the end of 2012: a high-growth global snacks business and a high-margin North American grocery business.  The North American grocery company will become Kraft Foods Group, Inc., retaining the Kraft brand for its corporate identity and as the brand for many of its consumer products.  As a result, the global snacks company will require a new name when it launches later this year.”The Kraft brand is a perfect fit for the North American grocery business and gives it a wonderful platform on which to build an exciting future,” said Chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld.  “For the new global snacks company, we wanted to find a new name that could serve as an umbrella for our iconic brands, reinforce the truly global nature of this business and build on our higher purpose – to ‘make today delicious.’  Mondelez perfectly captures the idea of a ‘delicious world’ and will serve as a solid foundation for the strong relationships we want to create with our consumers, customers, employees and shareholders.”

“It’s quite a job for a single word to capture everything about what we want the new global snacks company to stand for,” said Mary Beth West, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer.  “I’m thrilled with the name Mondelez International.  It’s interesting, unique and captures a big idea – just the way the snacks we make can take small moments in our lives and turn them into something bigger, brighter and more joyful.

“Last fall, the company invited employees from around the world to suggest names for the new global snacks company.  As part of this co-creation process, more than 1,000 employees participated, submitting more than 1,700 names for consideration.  Mondelez International was inspired by separate suggestions from two employees, one in Europe and another in North America. Link to full PR release.

Author’s Perspective:  No question Kraft if a global brand. But with only 15% of sales in Latin America, why sound like a Mexican Grocery Store (no disrespect to Latinos)? Proof that corporate naming contests deliver non-strategic, putrid brand names! The website looks like a regional grocery store. Check it out, here.

Greed is Good at Ingredion

In 2012 Corn Products changes its name to Ingredion to better reflect the company’s position as a leading ingredient supplier to a range of industries. With 2012 annual revenues of $6.6 billion, Ingredion Incorporated is a leading global ingredient provider to the food, beverage, brewing and pharmaceutical industries as well as numerous industrial sectors. Headquartered in Westchester, IL, Ingredion Incorporated has manufacturing, R&D and sales offices in over 40 countries and employs more than 11,000 people worldwide.

From the 2012 annual report:  A few other 2012 accomplishments stand out as particularly meaningful to me. First, as is evident from the name on the front of this report, we are now Ingredion, a name that better reflects our business model and our product portfolio. The reception from our employees, customers, suppliers and investors has been quite positive.

Author’s Perspective:  Greed is Not Good for Branding. The reference to corporate greed reinforces a negative perception. Gotta better idea?  Yes, Ingredient Solutions. (I know, its taken and cliche).

Abbott Did Not Hire a Branding Firm

From Press Release: Abbott Selects AbbVie as New Name for Future Research-Based Pharmaceutical Company

March 21, 2012, Abbott Park, Illinois (NYSE: ABT) — Abbott today announced that AbbVie [pronounced Abb-vee] will be the name of the new, independent research-based pharmaceutical company it expects to launch by the end of 2012.

The naming of the new company is the latest milestone in the process that began in October 2011, when Abbott announced it would separate into two publicly traded companies, one in diversified medical products and the other in research-based pharmaceuticals. AbbVie, the research-based pharmaceutical company, will include Abbott’s current portfolio of leading proprietary pharmaceuticals and biologics. The diversified medical products company, which will retain the Abbott name, will consist of Abbott’s existing diversified medical products portfolio, including its branded generic pharmaceutical, devices, diagnostics and nutritional businesses. Both companies will be global leaders in their respective industries.Miles D. White will remain chairman and CEO of Abbott. Richard A. Gonzalez, currently executive vice president, Global Pharmaceuticals, will become chairman and CEO of AbbVie.

The name is derived from a combination of Abbott and “vie,” which references the Latin root “vi” meaning life.“The beginning of the name connects the new company to Abbott and its heritage of pioneering science,” said Mr. Gonzalez. “The ‘vie’ calls attention to the vital work the company will continue to advance to improve the lives of people around the world.””With a powerful family of products and a continued focus on breakthrough innovations targeting some of the most critical medical needs, AbbVie will be positioned to deliver market-leading performance and better health for patients,” said Mr. White.The research-based pharmaceutical company has nearly $18 billion in annual revenue today and will have a sustainable portfolio of market-leading brands, including Humira, Lupron, Synagis, Kaletra, Creon and Synthroid. An attractive pipeline of innovative R&D assets – in important specialty therapeutic areas such as Hepatitis C, immunology, chronic kidney disease, women’s health, oncology and neuroscience – will help drive future growth. The AbbVie logo and graphic identity will be unveiled when the new company is launched.

Author’s Perspective: The CEO or his secretary named AbbVie. Not the tone or sophistication of a $18 billion brand. Even it’s stable of invented, synthesized pharma brands like Humira have a more relevant tone. Points for leveraging the equity of Abbott, but Abbott Pharma would have been more distinguished.

Please share this fine blog with all those wannabe name makers who hack it up, in companies big and small!

Check out some other corporate branding faux pas here.

Strategy&: The Brand Name of PwC’s Latest Acquisition

Worst Brand Name of 2019?


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