/As Encana becomes Ovintiv, the rebrand begs a question: What the hell is an Ovintiv?

As Encana becomes Ovintiv, the rebrand begs a question: What the hell is an Ovintiv?

EDMONTON — Thursday morning, Encana, a major oil and gas firm headquartered in Calgary, announced it would be moving its head offices to Denver and renaming the company Ovintiv Inc.

That, in the immediate aftermath of the announcement, raised a key question: what exactly is an Ovintiv? And, how does such a well-known company attempt to stay relevant — or become relevant again — when its brand is being wiped out and rebuilt.

Canoe Financial senior portfolio manager and director Rafi Tahmazian said that Encana was among the two most recognizable brands in the Canadian oil and gas industry.

“Short of Petro Canada, that’s the DNA, that’s the heart and soul of what we were,” he said.

He added the domestic oil and gas industry is suffering from a larger branding crisis.

“Canada is no longer a place that’s associated with innovation, success in the energy industry,” Tahmazian said, adding that it’s sad because the country has better technology than what is available in the U.S.

Canada is no longer a place that’s associated with innovation, success in the energy industry

When Canadian drilling rigs move South, he said, “they look like transformers.”

Plugging the term into Google Translate, it’s recognized as Albanian. But, it doesn’t actually translate into anything in English. Online, some speculated it could be a mashup of “Ova” (perhaps for rebirth) and “inventive” (meaning the obvious).

“Adopting a new corporate name reflects the transformation we have experienced, while articulating our vision for the future,” say briefing documents from Ovintiv. “The new name stands for our commitment to deliver unmatched value through continuous innovation, while our new logo symbolizes the human connection made possible by the safe, reliable and affordable energy we produce.”

Youssef Youssef, a commerce professor at Humber College in Toronto, says there’s a substantial amount of work that goes into rebranding, especially for a company as old and significant as Encana and it has significant effects on the value and continued success of a company.

A yellow Encana natural gas pipeline marker is seen in this file photo taken in Kalkaska, Michigan June 20, 2012.

REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

“(Encana) was a solid brand and it had resonance within the Canadian oil industry, and everybody knows the company, so to change the brand, it takes a lot of steps,” Youssef says

There is all sorts of market research that must go into determining the brand value among shareholders and the business community, not to mention the messaging about reshaping the brand and the practical matter of overhauling social media, websites and so on.

“It’s not just by changing the name,” Youssef says. “You need to create everything.”

Dan Bergeron, managing partner of the Calgary-based marketing firm Everbrave, says there’s a large amount of work that must go into explaining to everyone why a name has been changed, especially for an operation the size of Encana, and that involves scads of advertising and exhaustive public relations outreach.

“You can’t just change and say ‘hey, guess what, we have a new name, you know, everybody,’ but you’ve got to be like ‘there’s a reason why we did this, and this is why it’s important to us and why it’s important to our customers’ and celebrate that as a good thing,” Bergeron said.

As of mid-day Thursday, Ovintiv had little presence online, other than a dedicated page on the Encana website explaining the changes, and a quick search of possible other web homes for the company revealed nothing, so far, with very little — if any — social media presence. Ovintiv.com was registered to a New York-based branding company, Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu, P.C.; @ovintiv, on Twitter, had but one follower, perhaps not even related to the company.

“I’m really very surprised they don’t have the domain registered so far, they don’t have the social media … it’s not how do we do things in marketing,” Youssef says.

As for the name, marketing students do learn that there are some ways that you want to go about choosing an appropriate name: “They should be memorable, meaningful, likeable, transferable, adaptable, protectable, these are the six steps that need to be taken when you choose the brand.”

But they can be anything, really, whether it’s a surname, some sort of acronym or, plainly, something invented out of whole cloth that eventually comes synonymous with a product or service.

That, certainly, is what this looks like to Youssef, “like, Xerox, Kodak, Häagen-Dazs or any other brands that make less sense but it may stick,” Youssef said.

With a file from Geoffrey Morgan

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