The importance in having a good brand strategy from the outset has been illustrated recently with Pernod Ricard (the winemaker’s parent company) announcing the change of name of MONTANA – one of New Zealand’s predominant brands – to BRANCOTT ESTATE.  This will be rolled out globally in September and October.

MONTANA wines have been experiencing a strong growth in exports to the US.  Whilst great for business, this was the catalyst behind the change.  Many North Americans associate the mark MONTANA with the state of Montana.  Consequently it would not be possible for Montana Wines to have any exclusivity over this brand in the US – and in particular it would not be able to prevent any vineyards from Montana legitimately stating that their wine is from Montana.

The name Marlborough also caused difficulties – as it is phonetically very similar to MALBORO cigarettes.

The company chose the name BRANCOTT ESTATE as it refers to the vineyard where sauvignon blanc grapes were first planted in Marlborough, New Zealand around 30 years ago.

Whilst the mark BRANCOTT ESTATE has been used in the US for over a decade, the company decided to adopt a single brand in order to prevent consumer confusion and concentrate resources on promoting one brand globally.

Fabian Partigliani, managing director of the winemaker’s parent company Pernod Ricard stated, “The change will focus resources and significant long-term investment globally to leverage the power of a single premium brand of wines for our export markets”.

To make the transition easier for consumers, a dual brand strategy will be employed with both marks appearing on the labels.  Gradually the MONTANA mark will disappear.

This illustrates the importance of adopting a strong distinctive mark immediately from conception.  Not only does this prevent consumer confusion, it also prevents having to undergo a change of brand after a great deal of goodwill in the initial brand has been established.

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