Now We've Had Some Time To Think About Kraft's Name Change, We Still Think It's Awful

Kraft Snacks

Photo: Flickr

Last week Kraft Foods announced that it is changing the name of its snacks division to Mondelez International (stock symbol MDLZ) when it splits the company into two separate organisations later this year.The grocery division will retain the Kraft moniker and be called Kraft Foods Group. According to Kraft, the new name is pronounced “mohn-dah-leez” and comes from a combination of the words “monde” (Latin for “world”) and “deliz” (for “delicious”).

Yikes! Are they kidding? The following are just a few of the reactions.

  • Here is a hint, Kraft, if you need to show how to pronounce a name, you shouldn’t use it for the name of a company. Michael Sakraida March 21 at 9:53am
  • So stupid! This new name sounds like they’re moving the business to Mexico and naming it after the town. Why not leave it as ‘Kraft’ or some version of? That’s their global name and highly regarded. Starting a new name will not help their business but hurt it. They’ll find out the hard way. Andrew Komosa March 21 at 11:36am
  • “Mondelez” doesn’t sound remotely food-like. To me, it sounds like the name of a second-rate, off-Strip Vegas hotel. Cat MacKinnon Mar 27th, 2012 at 8:18 am

As of this writing, the results of a poll on squidoo that asks readers “Should Kraft change the company name to Mondelez International?” are as follows:

  • Yes = 0%
  • No = 93.6%
  • Maybe = 6.3%

Importance of the corporate brand name

The name is perhaps the most important of all branding decisions. It forms the foundation of the relationship between the brand and the customer. In the case of Kraft, this relationship is 103 to 109 years old (depending on when you start counting) and has been established through many years of product experience, advertising, and packaging. As a result, changing it should not be done hastily without a lot of serious thought and consideration.

How did Kraft make this important decision? Apparently, they asked employees to suggest a new name. A thousand employees submitted over 1,700 suggestions. Kraft says that Mondelez was inspired by two of them. While these employees are probably very talented, I am sure Kraft executives would not turn to employees if they needed brain surgery. Well, developing brand names is brain surgery of a different kind. Kraft should not solicit amateurs to do it for them.

What’s wrong with Mondelez?

Hard to pronounce. Upon asking a random sample of people to pronounce the name, nobody got it right. Why is this a problem? If people cannot pronounce it, it will be harder to remember and harder to fuel word-of-mouth pyramids, social networks, and stock recommendation opportunities. The corporate name is important for investors, employees, and business partners with whom the company needs to do business.

Confusing (what does it mean?). Yes, a lot of languages are based on Latin, but busy people that are already too distracted multitasking are not likely to make the association between the new name and delicious world. If they don’t know what it means, the company will lose the corporate image lift their products would get if the market understands, and feels comfortable with, the corporate brand name.

Loss of Brand Equity. The brand associations with Kraft that already exist in the brains of prospective buyers and stakeholders will be lost. These have been built up for more than 100 years and are the result of billions of promotional dollars invested in the Kraft brand. O.K. They are splitting the company in two. What’s wrong with calling the snacks business Kraft Snacks or Kraft Snack Foods? Everyone that knows the Kraft name will understand it, feel comfortable with it, and live happily ever after. The newbies can easily learn it. It is certainly easier to learn than Mondelez.

Not nice in Russian. If Kraft wants an international name, it should make sure it does not have negative connotations in international circles. Russian speakers say the first part of the name “manda” is a vulgar word, and the second part translates to the sex act. For the sake of my own corporate image, I’d rather not be more specific.

Would be worse if Mondelez was in the name of a product.

Luckily for Kraft, none of the snack products to be placed under the Mondelez umbrella contain the company name. Oreo, Nabisco, Trident, and Cadbury are strong brand names that have their own identities. The only place Mondelez is likely to appear is in the fine print on the product labels. Even so, for those that bother to read the labels (more and more people do these days), there may be some negative associations when they see the name Mondelez as the maker of the products. Time will tell.

What brand marketers think.

Brand-marketing experts are scratching their heads at this naming decision. The only people outside of the company that seem to be happy with the decision are Kraft’s competitors. To many, this is just another example of how big companies sometimes make big mistakes. 

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.