Naming a global leader
Completed in December 1996, the $30.9 billion merger of Swiss pharmaceuticals majors Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy was one of the largest in corporate history. The commission to create the name and identity for the new company resulted from the success of the Clariant brand, developed for the Sandoz specialty chemicals demerger.
The merger of Sandoz with Ciba-Geigy was built on a bold vision, of a new global enterprise focused on life sciences. The organisation required a new name, but one compatible with its distinguished shared heritage. The company would trade in 80 countries, its shares listed in Zurich and New York.
The naming project was executed in London by a small, specialist team working in conditions of strict confidentiality, given the scale and sensitivity of the merger. Throughout the process, the team kept in close contact with trade mark attorneys, to ensure availability of the shortlisted name candidates.
The name Novartis was preferred unanimously by the merger partners. The name was seen as communicating stature and a confident European sensibility. While reflecting the heritage of pharmaceutical science, it also carries a forward-looking message – new skills. The Novartis visual identity uses classical typography, with a pestle-and-mortar symbol representing innovation, precision and continuity.
The Novartis name and identity gained immediate acceptance and have provided a strong foundation for subsequent communications. Novartis today is the world’s 3rd largest pharmaceutical player by market value, with sales of $56.4 billion in 140 countries. It was rated the world’s most admired pharmaceutical company in Fortune’s 2011 poll.
Above: Novartis begins trading on NYSE May 2000, CEO Dr Daniel Vasella (centre) with CFO Raymund Breu (right of centre) Image©Novartis
Project undertaken by Nick Sheaff while at Siegel & Gale