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What’s in a name?: With Yell set to decide on Hibu rebrand, we look at brands which have changed their names


By Ishbel Macleod, PR and social media consultant

July 26, 2012 | 5 min read

With the decision by Yell if it will rebrand as Hibu to be made by shareholders today, 26 July, The Drum takes a look at some other brands which have changed their names over the years.

Marathon – Snickers

The Marathon chocolate bar was renamed as the less-sporty Snickers in 1990, to bring the brand in line with what it was called in other market places - apparently Snickers is the name of the Mars family's favourite horse.There were rumours in 2008 that the brand would go back to its original UK name, as Mars re-registered the brand name, perhaps due to the fact this was the year Wispa made a comeback.

Opal Fruits – Starburst

The fruit flavour chewy sweets changed its name to sound like a celebrity baby name in 1998, as Mars decided that the sweets should be called the same in Britain as it is in the rest of the world, deja-vu to anyone who remembered the Marathon-to-Snickers change. At the time, Mars spent about £10m advertising the name change, but was done with the theory that it would be easier and cheaper in terms of advertising if the product had one name across all markets.


The one letter change by Unilever in 2000 was made to the cleaning product brand as it was decided that ‘Jif’ was too hard to pronounce as the brand moved into other markets.It cost £2m for the rebrand in the UK, with a heavyweight series of ads promoting the change as Unilever tried to stop consumers from switching.

Bounty – Plenty

Norwich Union – Aviva

In 2008, Norwich Union changed its name to Aviva, based on the fact that this was the name used in 20 other markets across the world.The rebrand was seen as successful, with a 26 per cent increase in profits by 2010, following a huge rebranding campaign which featured celebrities who changed their name before becoming famous, such as Bruce Willis.

Brad’s Drink – Pepsi

When first launched in 1893, Pepsi was called Brad’s Drink, named by creator Caleb Davis Bradham.He renamed it Pepsi Cola in 1898, after ingredients pepsin and kola nut extract, and believed it was a health product since the pepsin enzyme aids digestion.The new name was trademarked in 1903, with the first logo designed by Bradham’s artist neighbour.

Post Office – Consignia- Royal Mail

You might not remember that the Post Office changed its name to Consignia in 2001 as part of a £2m rebrand as it moved to being operated without state control.Apparently, the name was chosen as a mix of the words ‘consign' and 'insignia', and was seen as symbolising trustworthiness – although one member of the public pointed out that ‘Consignia Plc’ is actually an anagram of ‘Panic Closing’.Following the backlash that ensued, and a new chairman in 2002, Consignia was binned and the company was named Royal Mail, with the Post Office being a division of this.

British Midland – BMI

British Midland was renamed bmi British Midland in 2001, with the name being shorted to just bmi two years after.This was not the first name change for the airline, which was taken over by British Airways earlier this year: it began life as Air Schools Ltd, specialising in RAF pilot training, before it became a charter and passenger flight service and changed its name to Derby Aviation in 1949.It followed this up as a rebrand to Derby Airways in 1959, and then British Midland Airways in 1964.

Backrub – Google

Set up by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the search engine site was originally named Backrub when it launched in 1996.However, after only two years it was renamed Google, a play on the word ‘googol’ - the mathematical term for the number one followed by 100 zeros – which the pair thought represented the goal of the company to organise the huge volume of information that exists in the world and make it useful.

BT Cellnet – O2

BT Cellnet changed its name to O2 in 2002, after British Telecom sold the mobile operations and it was decided that there was no need to stick to its original identity.As the chemical symbol for oxygen, O2 was chosen by BT Cellnet, along with Esat Digifone in Ireland, Viag Interkom in Germany and Telfort Mobiel in the Netherlands, as being ‘modern and universal’.The four launched a £130m marketing campaign across the four countries to promote the name change.

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