Can Changing a Product’s Brand Name Improve Its Public Image?
Would a new name change the public’s perception of high fructose corn syrup? The makers of high fructose corn syrup are counting on it. The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) wants to use the new name corn sugar on food labels in an attempt to change its image as the cause of obesity and a contributor to other medical concerns like diabetes and liver disease. According to the CRA, the goal of the name change is to “eliminate consumer confusion”.
Everyone has an opinion
There are conflicting reports on the impact of high fructose corn syrup but it seems that many have already chosen a position. Quite a few major food manufacturers have already replaced the high fructose corn syrup in their products with traditional sugar. Celebrities have made announcements to avoid it. It is already banned in Europe. Overall American consumption of the sweet-tasting sugar-substitute has decreased. What will it take to change its business image?
Could a Brand Name Change Its Public Image
Rebranding has proven effective for some companies facing negative public image associations. Philip Morris changed its holding company name to Altria to disassociate itself with the negative image of cigarettes. WorldCom became MCI after being caught inflating revenue to fictitiously create higher stock prices.
Selling the New Name
The CRA is petitioning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the name change but they are not waiting for FDA approval to begin their marketing campaign on the new name. Its new website appears to be focused on one single business strategy – trying to claim that high fructose corn syrup is similar to traditional sugar on many levels.
The website repeats a handful of quotes from a variety of sources about the similarities of the two but it does not directly addresses the health concerns nor claims any health benefits. Is it enough to just change the name without changing the cause of the negative image?
Where Should a Company Focus its Efforts
Has the CRA ever considered improving the substance itself so that it is actually healthier? Is it cheaper or easier to just create anti-negative marketing campaigns? Will the Sugar Association accept the name and new perceived association without a challenge? Maybe the CRA will not need to consider architecting actual solutions to improve the product if everyone can just accept the “we are no worse than sugar” brand name change strategy.