Shreyas Kulkarni

What’s in a name? RB, the maker of Dettol and Durex, is now Reckitt

In a world where rebranding and logo changes have become a common occurrence, does RB to Reckitt really matter?

Consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser Group plc announced on Tuesday (March 23, 2021) that it was rebranding itself from RB to Reckitt. The company said that the new brand identity and iconography is built on its purpose: to protect, heal and nurture in the relentless pursuit of a cleaner, healthier world.

Reckitt is the maker of health and hygiene products like Dettol, Lysol, Harpic, Durex, Mortein, Veet and Strepsils. Please note that it’s the company, and not its brands, that has been rebranded.

“The name reflects the existing widespread usage of Reckitt, and is clearer, simpler and more memorable, while retaining positive associations with the company’s heritage,” said Miguel Veiga-Pestana, SVP corporate affairs and sustainability.

What’s in a name? RB, the maker of Dettol and Durex, is now Reckitt

Commenting on the new logo, Ashwini Deshpande, co-founder and director, Elephant Design, tells us (afaqs!) that the “new visual identity has a spiral that looks interesting, as it represents growth. Removing Benckiser also makes it simple and easy to recall.”

What’s in a name? RB, the maker of Dettol and Durex, is now Reckitt

This is the company’s second rebranding exercise in the last 10 years. In 2014, the company, then called Reckitt Benckiser, dropped its name to RB.

What’s in a name? RB, the maker of Dettol and Durex, is now Reckitt

Founded in 1840 as Reckitt and Sons, it merged with J&J Colman (British maker of mustard and other kinds of sauces) in 1938 to become Reckitt and Colman.

What’s in a name? RB, the maker of Dettol and Durex, is now Reckitt

Cut to 1999, when the company merged with Benckiser NV, a Dutch cleaning supplies company, and took on the name of Reckitt Benckiser.

What’s in a name? RB, the maker of Dettol and Durex, is now Reckitt
What’s in a name? RB, the maker of Dettol and Durex, is now Reckitt

Then in 2009, the company introduced a new logo that brought together the Reckitt Benckiser name, as well as its short form RB. The logo that included the long and short forms was used for five years, until 2014.

Havas’ branding agency Conran Design Group created and oversaw the latest comprehensive rebranding exercise, including a new visual identity. The company said that the rebranding will roll out across all Reckitt touch points and comprises:

· A new name and logo – the R at the heart of the symbol stands for unity, strength and relentless pursuit, inspired by Reckitt’s purpose to protect, heal and nurture. It denotes Reckitt’s role in the world as a partner and catalyst for positive transformation. The shell-like quality of the symbol evokes a sense of protection and is a reference to the natural world.

· An evolved colour palette – the highly distinctive and recognisable ‘Energy Pink’ is Reckitt’s primary brand colour, signifying its perpetual energy. The secondary colours reflect its product portfolio, and connection to a cleaner, healthier world.

· Bespoke typography – a new, bespoke typeface ‘Energy’ is distinctive, accessible and unique to the Reckitt brand.

· Photography – new photography principles and categories illustrate how everything Reckitt does is connected, and has an impact on the world. Authentic, accessible and active imagery will show how change starts with an individual, the tangible impact Reckitt has on people’s lives, the strength of its partnerships, and its understanding of a changing world.

What’s in a name?

We live in a world where companies and brands change their logos often to spread awareness, or celebrate a cause. For instance, young brands today change their logos quite often. Be it to promote mask-wearing, like Subway did, or for any other reason.

Turns out Zomato had changed it logo twice in three months in 2015.

Big companies like Kia Motors and Burger King underwent a rehaul at the start of the year (2021).

Also, companies like Myntra and Amazon changed their logos because of user complaints.

We asked Deshpande that with such frequent logo changes from brands like Swiggy and Zomato, does it matter to see a legacy company rebrand itself. “Let us not compare apples and oranges. These are not the right examples while talking about a brand like Reckitt, or any other corporate brand.”

Ashwini Deshpande
Ashwini Deshpande

Deshpande remarks that there is a big difference between the objectives and outcome of building a corporate brand, and a consumer-facing product/service brand.

“Corporate brand is an inside out expression and speaks of what the company believes in, or stands for.” It is meant to build trust and confidence for internal and external stakeholders, Deshpande says, adding that corporate brand is about long-term value system and vision of the organisation. It is more than the sum of the products, or the services that the company may offer.

We also wondered what happens behind the scenes for a company like RB to rebrand itself and questioned Deshpande on the possible discussions the company may have had with Conrad.

“Rebranding is not only a 'design' exercise. It questions the purpose and vision of the company, and brings it to life through visual expressions,” says Deshpande. She went on to add that it becomes imperative to renew and realign the brand image, if there is a compelling reason for rebranding, such as changing markets, the evolution of target audience, transformed business vision, or some significant movement in the competitive set.

Rebranding exercises can't be decided based on how easy, or hard they are to execute, she says, “Misalignment causes far more damage than the effort required during rebranding.”

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