Name game: Potash merger offers much-needed rebranding opportunity – by Susan Krashinsky (Globe and Mail – September 27, 2016)

The proposed $36-billion (U.S.) mega-merger of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. and Agrium Inc. is a bid to create a Canadian giant in the fertilizer market. It is also a union of two thoroughly boring brands.

One is literally named for the thing it sells and the location of its headquarters. The other is slightly more creative – named for a reference to agriculture with the “ium” suffix meant to symbolize “a close connection to the earth.” A key decision in the merger is still unknown: What will the new company be called?

“Agrium and PotashCorp are aware that naming the new company is one of the most important marketing activities that they will undertake. They intend to take their time to do it right and will provide an update on this in due course,” the companies said in an e-mailed statement.

When companies merge, their brand identity is an important consideration. Will one brand prevail over the other, or will the companies seize the opportunity to overcome the naming constraints of the sector and create a brand that gets attention?

“There may not be a high bar of creativity, because it’s industrial and we’re looking at commodities,” said Anthony Shore, a brand-naming expert responsible for the Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut parent company’s moniker, Yum! Brands Inc. “But people who do business in this scenario are still people, and will react to creative names.

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