The rethinking is in line with French parent Danone Groupe's push for a more global approach to branding. In Europe in the early 1990s, the parent officially changed from BSN Groupe to the more consumer-friendly Danone, the name that could eventually appear on yogurt packages in the U.S.
`EXPLORING' NEW LOGO
A spokeswoman for Dannon in the U.S. confirmed it "was exploring the possibility of changing its logo design" to a blue chevron shape with gradations of red already used in Europe. But she said that changing the product name to Danone "is not something we are going to do."
An executive familiar with Dannon's plan, however, said the marketer will gradually phase in the Danone name in the U.S. over the next few years.
"Over time, the Dannon name will be changed on packages in the U.S. to the way it is in Europe," he said. "The idea is to ensure that consumers, as well as Wall Street, know" that the company's disparate products are part of the same brand family.
The shift being weighed by Dannon is so far into the future that U.S. yogurt agency Grey Advertising, New York, as well as Danone European shops Young & Rubicam, BDDP and Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, all Paris, aren't aware of it.
The major product carrying the Dannon name in the U.S. is yogurt, which led the $595.4 million category with a 36.3% share for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 6, according to Information Resources Inc.
The company markets a Dannon-branded spring water, but its other big brands, Evian and Volvic, don't currently carry the Dannon name.
The executive close to Dannon said the Danone name will be applied to Evian labels as well.
In trying to become more approachable to consumers by using the Danone name rather than BSN in Europe, the French company is following a route traveled by other international marketers.
EMPHASIZING BRAND FAMILIES
Recognizing the equity built into some corporate names, companies are increasingly emphasizing their families of brands. Kraft Foods is spotlighting the Kraft name on more of its products. Nestle slowly added its corporate name to Chambourcy yogurt in Europe and plans to eventually rename the brand Nestle there.
"Companies are re-examining rigid, hard-edged, cold and antiseptic identities and [moving] toward an approach that is more human," said Clay Timon, chairman, president and CEO of Landor Associates, San Francisco, an identity and design company.
In Europe, Danone has done this visibly with a new corporate logo including its name in blue but adding a circle with the silhouette of a child and a star.
Contributing: Bruce Crumley in Paris.