There is a national outcry. Heinz is apparently considering renaming its Salad Cream as Sandwich Cream.
Heinz Salad Cream was first launched in 1914, but according to Heinz, only 14% of consumers use it on salads. Instead, Heinz's view is that it is commonly used as a sandwich spread (as an alternative to mayonnaise). Hence the mooted change of name...
A spokesman for Heinz said that their Salad Cream no longer "represents the product's ingredients or usage occasions" and that "There are consumers now who haven't grown up with the brand in the household and just don't know about the iconic zingy flavour or what to eat it with".
So is this a bold step or a clever marketing ploy? It has certainly got people talking - a petition has even been launched on the change.org website.
For now we just have to wait and see, but what this has done is demonstrate the affection that certain brands have with the general public. Changing a brand name, whether voluntarily, in order to harmonise marketing inventories worldwide or as a result of a trade mark dispute can be very successful. However, to some people (the writer included!) a Snickers Bar will always be a Marathon and Starburst will always be Opal Fruits, despite these brand names changing in 1990 and 1998 respectively.
See if you can work out what the original names, detailed below, are now known as (the answers appear at the end of this post):
4. Blue Ribbon Spoerts
6. Brad's Drink
7. Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web
8. Pete's Super Submarines
So this quiz was just for fun, but it is interesting to note that the rebranding of Raider in 1991 was hugely unpopular in Germany. The impact of this was not lost on the manufacturers who, for the product's 30th anniversary in 2009, created a special edition called Raider for the German market.
Not so successful rebrands
And there are rebrands that fail spectacularly. One such example is the Royal Mail which rebranded as Consignia in 2001. This proved to be so unpopular that just over a year later, it changed its name again, this time to Mail Group plc.
The clothing giant Gap also underwent a rebranding exercise, although in this case the brand name itself didn't change, just the logo. Fast forward a mere seven days and it reverted to its original design.
This just goes to show that even with multi-million pound budgets and huge PR teams, a rebranding can go spectacularly wrong resulting in huge costs and red faces all round.
Avoiding being forced to rebrand
So changing a brand name for aesthetic reasons is one thing. What about when it is necessary to change a name because it infringes a third party's rights? To mitigate any such risk, clearance searches should be carried out prior to the adoption of a new name. Whilst these searches cannot provide a 100% guarantee that an objection will not be forthcoming from a third party, they should identify obvious risks meaning that you either change your brand prior to launch or you enter into the market fully aware of the risks involved.
For further information on trade mark searching please contact Rebecca Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post is not intended to constitute specific legal advice. For any specific advice please contact Rebecca Davis at email@example.com.