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What’s in a Name?

Why re-brand? Well in our case, we have spent the past two decades slowly transforming the company from a fine chemical company into a pharma company, discontinuing all non-pharma products. Now we are a fully focused pharma company, the name FeF chemicals didn’t really match what we were doing. And since we are owned by Novo Nordisk, it was natural to adopt part of the parent company into our new name – Novo Nordisk Pharmatech.

Just when you think you have thought of everything, something new pops up.

In fact, coming up with the name was one of the easier parts of the process for us. That was when the real work began. It has taken a full year from making a final decision to change the name to the recent official announcement. There are a lot of practical implications, beyond what you see on our website or in our facilities. Hundreds of legal, financial and technical documents have been updated. Just when you think you have thought of everything, something new pops up – IT systems or links to external websites. You have to take a 360 degree view and review every last one of your business processes to identify the impacts.

But it’s not all prosaic, practical changes; a new name is a natural point to review the mission and vision of the company – an exciting process! Alongside the name change, we updated our corporate strategy, enterprise resource planning system and facilities, so we had to coordinate all that with the name change too. Making so many changes at once has made for a stressful 12 months. But the name change influences so many different parts of our company systems, going all the way from standard operating procedure, labels to invoices and a hundred other things; so making all the changes at once cuts down on repetition. It’s important not to underestimate the size of the task or the amount of hard work involved.

A new name is a natural point to review the mission and vision of the company – an exciting process.

For us, our new name draws a line under our old identity as a chemical manufacturer, and clarifies our pharma focus. The more creative part of the process was finding a way to reflect those changes in our new logo and branding. We asked several creative agencies to pitch, and chose an agency based on their track record on similar projects and the fact that they quickly grasped what we were looking for. We first asked them to speak with stakeholders both within Novo Nordisk, and from our global customers, to get a feel for perceptions of FeF Chemicals. This was a crucial step for us, to make sure that external and internal perceptions of the company were in alignment and reflected in our new branding. Based on that feedback and our own ambition for the future, we gave them the challenge of creating a clear visual and brand identity. In our case, we needed to remain in line with the Novo Nordisk corporate visual identity, as well as match our future aspirations and past history. We think our final branding is a great mix between being loyal to the corporate brand and forging our own identity.

Of course, it will take some time to get used to the changes. Many of our employees and customers have a 25 or 30-year history with FeF Chemicals – many ‘grew up’ with the old name and are genuinely proud of it. For them to adopt a new name and learn to fully accept it will naturally take time. To help ease the transition, we arranged a whole series of internal workshops to integrate the new name into our company culture and allowed plenty of time for our customers to get used to it before the final changeover.

The key to a successful brand update is to pay close attention to both stakeholder perceptions of the company and your future commercial strategy. By considering both who you are, and who you want to be, you can create an identity that unites the company and projects a clear image to others.

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