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Serendipitously Splenda

We leave April and enter the Spring month of May with a simply splendid story of serendipity related to the brand name Splenda from our very own David Jaeger, modern man about town and a Senior Consultant at Brandpersand:

It was on the cusp of 1990 that we at David Wood Associates, the boutique naming company founded by David a few years prior, were assigned the task of creating a brand name for a new and unique artificial sweetener. Par the course for a typical consumer-centric naming engagement, we first met with the team, conducted a number of focus groups, then finalized the brief. In a few weeks time, the first wave of name creation was ready for presentation.

As David Wood needed to be in Europe for another naming project that very week, I was flying solo to Chicago to present our candidates to the team. Given that this was the first presentation of names to a new team and related client, I was cautiously optimistic that in an hour’s time, I would have a fair share of keepers along with a few glimmers of insight to share with David Wood for the second round of name creation. As I was waiting in the reception area to enter the conference room, the extremely bright and cheery receptionist struck up a conversation, her accent punctuating the story of her move to Chicago from Londontown. In reply, I shared the reason for my visit and the uncommon nature our work at DWA. As I recounted the stories behind some of our best known work, she repeatedly used the word ‘splendid’ at the conclusion of each one of my sentences. What a wonderful word and related expression – it was as if I could have stated anything in the world and no matter the statement, everything was ‘splendid.’

Needless to say, our carefully crafted list now seemed incomplete without this perfect complement to the science of sucralose.

It can also be said with certainty that no two PowerPoint slides were created as quickly as my two additions, the first for ‘Splendid,’ and the second with the simple addition of the letter ‘a’ in place of the suffix to create Splenda. Although there were roughly 125 well-vetted candidates to share, my instincts were clear that, in spite of the lack of screening, the new additions were right on the mark and well worth the risk.

As I entered the conference room with a new found optimism, the rather large team of 20 or so clients listened attentively as I reviewed the steps and related naming strategy before the actual presentation of name candidates. My cautious optimism began to fade as I encountered tepid enthusiasm in place of earnest appreciation. However, a slight murmur of approval from the room for the word ‘Splendid’ was then followed by the sound of applause from the team leader for Splenda! Shocked to say the least, this was the first time in my life a client had such a welcome reaction to a name.

Without any further ado, the team leader said, “That’s it, Splenda is what we want.” Of course, without legal clearance, it was difficult to simply say, “Yes, you can have it!” so I simply said, “We’ll do our best!”

Fortunately, Splenda sailed through the screening process, first launching in Canada before successfully reaching the US market in 1998. Serendipity certainly had a role in the naming and related branding of Splenda, and thanks to that British receptionist, you may very well enjoy it in your morning coffee.

Splenda is the commercial name and registered trade mark of a sucralose-based artificial sweetener derived from sugar owned by the British company Tate & Lyle. Sucralose was discovered by Tate & Lyle and researchers at Queen Elizabeth College, University of London, in 1976. Tate & Lyle subsequently developed sucralose-based Splenda products in partnership with Johnson & Johnson subsidiary McNeil Nutritionals LLC.

Since its approval by the United States government in 1998 and introduction there in 1999, sucralose has overtaken Equal in the $1.5 billion artificial sweetener market, holding a 62% market share. According to market research firm IRI, Splenda sold $212 million in 2006 in the U.S. while Equal sold $48.7 million.

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