What’s in a Name? Krafting the Mondelez Brand

Illustration by 731 Lexington, Photo: Getty Images

Kraft’s decision to name its snacks division “Mondelez International” left the media with two key questions. The first question: How is it pronounced? Does one say MOHN-dah-lezz? Mohn-DAH-lezz? Mohn-dah-LEEZ? (The correct answer is the latter.) The second question: What does it mean? Pronunciation aside, the name is not intuitive and does not clearly convey a meaningful association. (The name is derived from the words “mundus,” Latin for “world,” and “delez,” a proxy for the word “delicious.”)

The questions related to the pronunciation and meaning of Kraft’s new brand raise valid points. But the first question one should ask is: What is the brand’s target audience? According to Kraft Foods Chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld, the Mondelez brand will offer “a solid foundation for the strong relationships we want to create with our consumers, customers, employees and shareholders.” This still does not answer the fundamental question—namely, whether Mondelez is destined to become a consumer brand or if it will remain purely a corporate brand. If the former is true, then the pronunciation and meaning-related issues remain. If, however, Mondelez is destined to be a corporate brand only, then the above issues are moot.

Indeed, there are many companies using the so-called house-of-brands strategy in which the company markets individual brands to consumers while keeping its corporate brand relatively invisible. For example, while most consumers are familiar with Tide, Duracell, and Gillette, many are unaware that these are all Procter & Gamble brands. In the same vein, most consumers are unfamiliar with Yum! Brands, the parent company of Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut. Or that Unilever is the parent of Lipton, Dove, and Ben & Jerry’s brands.

As long as Mondelez remains a corporate brand that is not used in consumer-based promotional campaigns, the pronunciation and the transparency of the name’s meaning are of secondary importance: Eventually retailers, employees, and shareholders will figure it out. If, however, the Mondelez name is used for consumer branding—a rather unlikely scenario—one can hope that over time, consumers will embrace the newly minted name. And chances are they will—just as they embraced Verizon.