This fine Spring Sunday morning, the London edition of The Financial Times has an interview with Karl-Ludwig Kley, German Merck's CEO (registration required), in which he again laments how hard it is to handle the name flap, in this, the digital age. Geographic borders no longer even remotely define consumer and customer borders. So it goes. At the end of the interview, perhaps worryingly, he suggests that while he and Kenilworth are on friendly terms, German Merck intends to step up its efforts to control its brand globally -- including inside the US and Canada. I have repeatedly written that a separation -- complete separation -- of names, is probably the only sensible way to go. And that is still so. Here is more of my background on it all, over the years 2010 to 2014 -- firmly establishing that the confusion is real:
In February 2014, I poked a little fun at the capitalists' paper of record -- for the German-US naming confusion to which they also more than occasionally have fallen prey. [At least a little more than. . . a little. Heh.]
So many, many people -- and organizations -- make this same mistake: including the Wall Street Journal (proof under that link). The list would include Facebook, in granting short-hand named commercial page rights (three separate times). And CNBC -- in its graphics department -- continuously since 2009. So, it now seems fair to lay part of the blame at the feet of the companies themselves.
But that doesn't mean that we should believe, as some at Kenilworth (then Whitehouse Station) claimed -- in the Facebook name flap -- that people at US Merck forget that they aren't. . . living in Germany. [Yes folks, that was US Merck's first defense (circa 2011) -- to having poached German Merck's page -- on Facebook. Preposterous.]
In any event, here is a February 2014 vintage Exhibit A -- from the WSJ Blogs lead page (do read it all, there). All I ask? Please just understand, many, many smart people have done it too. See here:
. . . .There was some head-scratching [in February 2014] at Merck KGaA, the German pharmaceutical company, as protesters from STOPAIDS gathered outside its north London office.
The protest was over leaked plans for pharmaceutical industry lobbying against proposed reforms to South Africa’s intellectual property laws. Trouble was, those plans came from Merck & Co. of the U.S.; it and the German company aren’t connected. . . .
The leaked document, which referred to South Africa as “ground zero” in the debate over intellectual-property protection, was only a proposal and was rejected, said U.S. Merck. . . .
And so, given the benefit of my documented perspective, above -- one might understand why some AIDS activists might get confused about which set of signs, and regional HQs. . . belong to. . . which. This is not at all to be charged as any one journalist's error -- but it nicely points up why each of these companies ought to rethink their brand identity. These two need to become more distinguishable, one from the other.
Now I'm off to enjoy a mountain bike ride -- in the clear Spring air.