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What’s In A Name?

A s consolidations continue to change the trucking landscape in North America, fleet managers have often been faced with some difficult branding challenges. Is it better to operate multiple trucking c...


As consolidations continue to change the trucking landscape in North America, fleet managers have often been faced with some difficult branding challenges. Is it better to operate multiple trucking companies as separate entities with their own unique identity? Or is it advantageous to bring them all under one umbrella and operate them under a single company name?

That’s the question Yellow Transportation was faced with when the company went on a buying spree and acquired rival Roadway Corporation along with other carriers including Reimer and USF, as well as logistics company Meridian IQ.

Mike Brown, vice-president, strategic planning and marketing communications with YRC Worldwide, said the company opted to brand itself as a “branded house” rather than a “house of brands.” A branded house has several companies operating under the same name (think GE) while a house of brands consists of many different brand names sharing the same parent company (ie. Procter Gamble). However, the company wanted to continue operating the companies separately and was concerned any name change could alienate one set of customers or employees.

“We said we’re going to keep both of these brands out there, they both have loyal customer bases, they both have an appeal to particular parts of the marketplace even though they essentially do the same thing,” said Brown. “The glitch was, we had to come up with a new parent company name, so in brilliant and strategic fashion we came up with Yellow Roadway Corporation and brought the two names together.”

While it seems simple enough, the company wasn’t completely satisfied with its new identity.

“We tripled in size in 30 months and we started to look for more international growth,” recalled Brown. “The name Yellow didn’t translate in a lot of markets very effectively.”

Brown said the company employed the assistance of a branding agency and then looked outside the transportation industry to see how other companies made the successful transition. Two examples stood out: Yum!, which is the parent company of several competing fast food chains such as KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut; and Marriott which also owns a number of competing hotels, including Renaissance, which competes directly with Marriott in the same price category.

Meanwhile, as Brown’s team conducted focus groups and researched other companies’ branding strategies, something funny was happening. The name was being shortened by customers to YRC, and soon the unofficial name was taking on a life of its own.

Hence, YRC Worldwide was born. And Meridian IQ was transformed into YRC Logistics. The end result, said Brown, was a brand name that accurately reflected the company’s corporate strategy and held global appeal.

“Your brand strategy really does tie into your business strategy,” said Brown.


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