Unilever considers developing its own brand name

LONDON - Unilever may start to brand some of its products, such as Persil and Ben & Jerry's, with the Unilever name, according to chief executive Niall FitzGerald.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, FitzGerald said that the time may now be right to develop Unilever as an "umbrella brand" for its other brands, which would see them tagged as "Persil from Unilever", for example.

The company has avoided doing this in the past, because if one product has a problem it can affect the image of other products.

In particular, FitzGerald cited the case of Persil Power, the washing powder that caused clothes to deteriorate in the wash, causing a PR disaster for the company in 1994. "Communications had evolved so fast that within seconds this wasn't a brand issue, this was a corporate issue. So, even if we had wanted to ring-fence our products, we couldn't have," he said.

However, the advantages are that Unilever could develop brand qualities that could then be applied across the board to all its brands. FitzGerald gave the example of establishing the environment credentials of Unilever. "The cost of doing that for individual brands is immense," he said.

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