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Chicago's New Company: Innovene

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BP's Chicago firm named 'Innovene'
Blends 'innovate' with a form of chemical bond

By Gregory Meyer

The name of a new Chicago-based spinoff from oil giant BP plc will fuse the word “innovate” with a form of chemical bond.

Innovene, which will have 8,500-employees and an estimated $15 billion in sales of petrochemical products, will move to the Aon Center in April, company officials said in announcing the name Monday. BP plans to sell it off later this year.

BP chose the moniker after extensive interviews with employees, customers and industry analysts and with assistance from Landor Associates, a brand consulting firm, said Innovene spokesman Ben Moxham.

The word already describes a process used to make polyethylene, Moxham said. The name’s –ene suffix will also stir, in chemists at least, images of the double carbon bond that’s a building block of the company’s products, Moxham said.

“But if you take a literal reading of it, it also stresses innovation and making a difference,” he said.

Jack Trout, president of Trout & Partners Ltd., a Connecticut marketing strategy firm, said the Innovene name lacks a petrochemical industry ring.

“To me they have come up with a great consulting company name,” he said. “If I were them, I’d sell it to a consulting company and come up with something that smacks of the petroleum business.”

The spinoff will restore to Chicago a major oil industry headquarters, a status it lost when London-based BP bought Amoco Corp. in 1998. New CEO Ralph Alexander, 49, will be heading the firm, which will count about 150 employees in Chicago, Moxham said.

Innovene will also employ an unspecified number who now work at BP’s offices in Warrenville, Mr. Moxham said.

BP announced last April it would spin off its olefins and derivatives business, which has been struggling financially.

Moxham declined to say how much BP paid to come up with the name. Landor also helped draft a new logo, which looks like a droplet of oil pulling loose from a blob.

Alexander, in a statement, said the name “speaks to our aspiration to challenge ourselves and the status quo in our sector.”
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This seems great for Chicago, but I still have to wonder about a business that is being spun off precisely because its not doing very well. Will this join Sears Holdings and United as yet another limping Chicago giant?
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