Starburst or Opal Fruits? What’s with a name?

Mar 22, 2019

Back in the 90s, before I was barely a teen, our beloved Opal Fruits ditched their name, rebranding to Starburst. They said it wouldn’t make a difference but there was something strange and new about the new name. It didnt sit well with me and I remember thinking ‘what is this madness?!’ when I went to the local corner shop – instead opting from something safer, like Wine Gums. I knew where I stood with Wine Gums.

Those juicy, chewy delights were originally called Opal Fruits after being introduced to shop shelves in 1959. They were so named by Peter Pfeffer in a competition that won him £5 and the four original flavours were strawberry, lemon, orange, and lime. Then in the 1990s Opal Fruits were phased out in the UK, followed by Ireland in 1998, in order to standardise the Starburst product in the global marketplace (although Asda briefly revived Opal Fruits for a 12-week period in May 2008).

And don’t even get me started on Snickers bars. Long before Mr T began asking customers to “grow some nuts”, the nougat, caramel and peanut confectionery made by Mars was sold as Marathon. Then in 1990, Mars decided to align the UK product with the global Snickers name…

So… what is in a name?

For Opal Fruits and Marathon, it was a UK product that needed to step into the global sphere. For the likes of Cif (Jif) and Oil of Olay (Ulay) it was a language thing, and for Santander (Abbey National etc) and HSBC (Midland Bank) it was all part of a bigger merger.

There’s always a story behind a rename. It doesn’t always sit well when it’s a brand we know and love (hey, who likes change!?), but there is a bigger picture dying to be seen and for the business involved, its a big decision and pivot that will mean bigger, brighter things.

Naming your business is a big deal. It is often the thing we agonise over for hours when starting out, and it can take a while for the name to feel comfortable. Businesses change, they grow and brands develop. So should we be clinging on to a name for dear life, when a simple update could do us the world of good?!

Here at A&D, we are going through some changes behind the scenes. We now have international clients, and doing a lot of development to hone and specialise in certain areas. For us its time to change…

Watch this space!




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