Ovintiv name a ‘blank slate’ as Encana plans move to United States

CALGARY — The name Encana Corp. immediately brings to mind two things: energy and Canada.

Ovintiv, with which the oil and gas producer plans to rechristen itself once it moves its headquarters to the United States next year, offers no hint of what the company does or where it’s from.

Branding experts say that’s likely to be the point.

“It’s kind of a blank slate, which appears to be what they wanted to go for,” said Darren Dahl, a marketing professor at the University of British Columbia.

Alan Middleton, a York University marketing professor, laughed at the mention of the new moniker.

“Firstly, I think it’s a horrible name. Secondly, it doesn’t matter,” he said.

“The only pure tests for a brand’s actual name is ‘Can you trademark it and is it rude?’ Beyond that, it’s up to the organization to deliver its meaning.”

Encana was created in 2002 through the merger of Alberta Energy Company Ltd., founded in the 1970s by the provincial government, and PanCanadian Energy Corp., the roots of which can be traced back to the construction of the Canadian Pacific railroad.

CEO Doug Suttles, who speaks in a Texas drawl and lives in Denver, has said the change in headquarters is meant to help the company tap deeper pools of U.S. investor capital.

A skeletal web page for Ovintiv says the rebranding is a nod to “continuous innovation.” Its red, orange and grey logo of dashes in a molecule-like configuration “symbolizes the human connection made possible by the energy we produce.”

Encana’s founder, Gwyn Morgan, wrote in a recent Postmedia column that the southward move and name change are signs Canada’s energy industry has gone from being viewed as “positive to pariah” because of “toxic” Liberal energy policies.

“The Americanization of the company is distressing enough, but the loss of the Encana name is particularly heart-wrenching,” Morgan wrote. “Apparently, the company’s board concluded even keeping a name that implies Canadian roots repels investors.”

Middleton said the Canadian brand’s problem is not that it’s viewed poorly — it’s that no one thinks much about it at all.

He said Canada’s energy sector is viewed as a ”credible, but not a superior brand.”

Dahl said the Canadian brand still has value when it comes to things such as tourism, but it’s been on the wane for the last decade or two when it comes to natural resources.

“I don’t see many extraction industries branding themselves in the Canadian way, which is kind of sad. It’s a big part of our heritage.”

University of Calgary instructor Marc Boivin said he suspects the change to Ovintiv is less about rebuking Canada than it is about embracing innovation and forward-thinking.

“Encana by its nature is a business-to-business company, so it’s not like we’re going to be wearing Ovintiv T-shirts. There are probably not going to be Ovintiv gas stations,” he said.

“They might really be focused on the story about innovation and how they want to push something different and something new in that way.”

He said the Canadian brand is still viewed positively, but “we’ve been a heavily based commodity economy for quite a long time and we’re slowly changing and evolving and moving from that.”

Donna Dumont, an associate professor at Calgary’s Mount Royal University, said corporate name changes aren’t taken lightly because they require a lot of market research and money.

“I do think that it was a solid brand and it had resonance within the industry,” she said of Encana.

As for Ovintiv: “It’s going to take a while for people to get comfortable with it.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Central Alberta woman receives North American award for leading Red Deer Regional Health Foundation

Manon Therriault at the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation has always embraced… Continue reading

Families displaced after Red Deer fire Sunday

A structure fire displaced two families in north Red Deer Sunday morning.… Continue reading

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

In its place is employment insurance, which the government says the majority of people will go on

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 27

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00… Continue reading

WE Charity controversy prompts examination of group’s overseas footprint

On Sept. 9, WE Charity said it would wind down its Canadian operations

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Nearly 1M who died of COVID-19 also illuminated treatment

The nearly 1 million people around the world who have lost their… Continue reading

Toronto health officer closes 3 restaurants as result of COVID contact tracing

Toronto’s top public health official has ordered the closure of three downtown… Continue reading

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

CALGARY — Canadian ski resort operators planning for a season that begins… Continue reading

Tenille Townes, Dean Brody and Brett Kissel top nominees at tonight’s CCMA Awards

OTTAWA — Tenille Townes could be lined up for some major wins… Continue reading

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

TERRACE, B.C. — Health care in the era of COVID-19 took centre… Continue reading

Watchdog to investigate fatal Winnipeg crash that sent two kids to hospital

Winnipeg police say a woman has died and five others — including… Continue reading

The ‘relentless underdog’: Green Leader Sonia Furstenau ready for uphill battle

Green Leader Sonia Furstenau was driving Monday when she turned on the… Continue reading

Mi’kmaq power, inside and beyond Ottawa, stronger than in past fishery battles

HALIFAX — When Jaime Battiste was in his early 20s, cable news… Continue reading

Most Read