We have all heard of Band-Aid, Tylenol, Benadryl and Johnson’s baby powder.
We have never heard of the new made-up word Kenvue.
But Kenvue will be the new corporate parent of these familiar consumer health brands next year.
J&J is keeping its recognizable name for its larger pharmaceutical business unit, but needed to come up with a new brand identity for the smaller consumer arm.
The company said Wednesday that it landed on Kenvue, a combination of “Ken,” an English word for knowledge primarily used in Scotland, and “vue,” a reference to sight. It’s pronounced ken-view.
“Unveiling the Kenvue brand is a defining moment for our stakeholders and an important part of the planned separation,” said Thibaut Mongon, who was designated CEO of the new company, which also includes Motrin, Listerine, Neutrogena and other brands. The split is set to be completed next year.
A J&J spokesperson said a small team worked with a creative naming agency to develop and screen thousands of names for the new company. J&J wanted the name to be distinctive and memorable. It also needed to clear trademarks in more than 100 markets and “pass linguistic and cultural screenings in 89 languages and dialects.”
In addition to the new name, the company has a new logo and design. Kenvue appears in white letters against a green background, and the letter “K” includes a sideways heart.
It’s no coincidence that Kenvue does not have any meaning or history, said Jay Jurisich, the CEO and creative director of brand naming agency Zinzin.
Companies often look for names that are squeaky clean from any controversy.
The name Kenvue reflects J&J’s desire for the new consumer company identity to take a backseat to well-known brands such as Band-Aid. This is a similar strategy to other consumer product conglomerates such as Unilever (UL), the owner of Dove and Hellmann’s, and Procter & Gamble (PG), which owns Bounty and Charmin.
“It’s really just a holding company behind all these other brands,” Jurisich said. “They want a name that will disappear in the background and the brands will stick out.”
Corporate name changes are a common tactic for a variety of reasons, such as spinoffs, mergers and acquisitions, or new parent companies.
Companies involved in public relations crisis have also changed their names to remove any negative associations with their previous brand names, like Philip Morris, which changed its name to Altria (MO)in 2001. Then there have been brands that changed their names to signal strategy shifts, such as Dunkin’ dropping “Donuts” in 2018.
This is not the first time two words have been combined in a new company’s name.