Organisation - February 12, 2015

All under one name?

Albert Sikkema,Koen Guiking

The Plant Sciences Group has decided to stop using its DLO brand names PRI (Plant Research International) and PPO (Applied Plant Research) and to present itself in future as Wageningen UR. Should other DLO brands like Alterra, LEI and Imares disappear too? Resource made a quick tour of the various fields of knowledge.


Gulden Yilmaz
Programme manager, Food and Biobased Research
‘We present ourselves as Wageningen UR. That’s a really well-known brand name, especially outside the Netherlands. I also use FBR, Food and Biobased Research, to clarify our focus. My gut feeling is that Wageningen UR is a stronger brand name than FBR. However, many Dutch people think that Wageningen UR is solely a university. We need to make it a lot clearer that Wageningen UR also includes research centres and that this combination of U and R is unique. This combination is our strength and ensures that scientific breakthroughs are translated into applications. We should communicate with the outside world much more clearly, with the aim of having greater impact and attracting more business.’


Janjo de Haan
Applied researcher, Wageningen UR (previously: researcher with PPO Arable Farming, Green Space and Field Vegetable Cultivation)
‘Wageningen UR is a good brand but in some circumstances it is better to use another brand. Many farmers see Wageningen UR as being large, fundamental, aloof and far away, while PPO can be relevant to their business and – bearing the research farms in mind – is active in their region. To businesspeople, the name Wageningen UR tends to mean the university, where all research results are made public. On the other hand, when it’s a question of researching something, Wageningen UR is well known. That’s why I’d like to keep the option – among farmers I’m from PPO, to most other clients I’m from Wageningen UR.’


Wouter Gotje
Business developer, Imares Wageningen UR
‘Within the marine world Imares has built a name for itself, so I think we should hold on to the Imares brand name. But always in combination with the main brand Wageningen UR, because it reflects well on us that we are part of the university. My background is in commercial business and I experienced the acquisition of AquaSense by Grontmij. Five years later the brand name AquaSense had disappeared and the department no longer existed. That’s partly why I think we should hold on to Imares. Besides, Wageningen UR is associated mainly with agriculture, while Imares has built a name for itself in the marine sector. You shouldn’t throw that name away.’

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 Harry Wichers
Researcher, Food & Biobased Research
‘A multidisciplinary approach is almost always required to answer the questions that are put to us. The importance of multidisciplinary research is recognized and articulated, but because the organization is split up into business units, cooperation is less than ideal. I think internal cooperation would be improved if we presented ourselves to the outside world as one group, using one name. The way things are divided up at present means nothing to external people. Personally, I don’t use the name of my business unit. I recently ordered business cards and had to state which part of the organization I worked for. I filled in Wageningen UR.’

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Theo Vogelzang
Researcher, LEI
‘Thinking commercially, the brand name LEI wins us lots of commissioned work in The Hague and in the region. To the outside world, Wageningen UR is too general as a brand name. When I’m talking to new clients and business relations in rural areas, where say Alterra is also active, LEI is a byword for contributing socio-economic knowledge and Alterra for spatial knowledge. In that case, these brand names are anchor points. I doubt whether people who aren’t well versed in the complex structure of Wageningen UR would be able to find us in future without these brand names. But it’s no easy matter. LEI and Alterra are strong enough to work as sub-brands of Wageningen UR, but that might not be the case for Livestock Research and Imares. Sometimes fields of work – take fisheries as an example – are present in several science groups. It might be an idea to present them under one banner.’

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Sjaak Bakker
Manager, Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture
‘I am a big fan of using just one brand, but always with a clearly recognizable addition for the target audience. Otherwise how would they know the right person to call within this huge organization? For the past eight years we have been using a strong combination: the Wageningen UR brand with the addition of Greenhouse Horticulture. This is already on our promotional material. Although we are not officially an A-brand, at the time I did get the Executive Board’s permission to profile ourselves in this way. If that were now thrown overboard, I’d be worried it would cost us hundreds of thousands in turnover, if not more.’


Christy van Beek
Programme coordinator, Alterra
‘I work a lot in Africa and over there I don’t bother people with names like Alterra or CDI. I always say that I work for Wageningen UR; that’s really well known there. But I am also a programme coordinator for Alterra. On behalf of Alterra I approach a lot of Dutch parties with a view of collaborating. Among them, Alterra is a familiar name. So that brand name helps me to make contact. Of course, I also keep my eyes open for other parts of Wageningen UR when I’m on the road for Alterra.’