In my former job working in communications for Merck’s biopharma division, I struggled daily with the company name.
Here’s the thing: I did not work for Merck & Co. — aka the American Merck, the bigger of the two and the one that 99% of people assume you mean when they hear the name.
My employer was Merck KGaA. Ah, the German Merck, people would say. Yes, the original Merck, its family owners would have you know. The world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. They didn’t really care that they were dwarfed in size by their bigger American cousin. They had the legal rights to the name everywhere in the world but in North America, and they used it with pride. And if people didn’t understand, well…that was their problem.
While I understood their position from a historic point of view, as a communicator it was counter-intuitive. We PR folk want a solid base upon which to build our brand’s reputation, a clearly differentiated identity and strengths compared to competitors. The confusion around ‘Which Merck?’ only served to water down anything we had to say about the company. read more