News - April 7, 2016

United under one brand?

Rob Ramaker

Wageningen University & Research is to be the new brand for all Wageningen research and education. Institute names such as Alterra, Lei and Imares will be consigned to history from 1 September. How do their staff feel about that?

Illustration Geert-Jan Bruins

Thom Achterbosch, Senior research at LEI Wageningen UR in The Hague


‘I am attached to the brand name LEI. At the agricultural directorate at the EU they pay particular attention to any publications with the name LEI on them. But I travel a lot outside Europe too, and there I mainly use the name Wageningen University & Research Centre, because that means more to people there.  So I hang out whichever flag works best, depending where I am.’

Marlies Sanders, Researcher at Alterra Wageningen UR in Wageningen


‘We’ve been called Alterra Wageningen UR for some time now, so it’s not a sudden complete change of name. At the time it was a deliberate strategy to put “Alterra” up front so we would come at the top of alphabetic lists – even above Arcadis. After all, we have to sell ourselves. With the name “Wageningen University & Research” we suddenly find ourselves at the bottom of the list. In some cases that will make a difference.’

Maarten van Hoppe, Researcher at Imares Wageningen UR in Den Helder


‘Personally I’ve never given very much thought to what this means for us. I do think it’s a bit funny for such well-known names to disappear. It will be a bit confusing for parties you work with. Currently people associate the fisheries sector with Imares. It will take time before they associate it with Wageningen University & Research. Not that I am particularly attached to the name Imares – which is only an odd abbreviation – but I have grown used to it. Now I’m going to have to tell people again that the organization I’m working for has a new name.’

Yvon Geurts, Researcher at the Central Veterinary Institute (CVI) in Lelystad

‘I saw no need to change the name. We are based in Lelystad so we don’t really feel linked to Wageningen UR. I feel more part of CVI than of Wageningen. What’s more, this is the umpteenth change of name. It’s a waste of money and the brand familiarity that has been built up. Anyway, the change of name isn’t a subject of discussion here; I don’t know when it’s going to take place and we are not preoccupied with it at all.’

Martin Baptist, Researcher and advisor at Imares Wageningen UR in Den Helder

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‘First of all: I think it’s a good idea for the name to be simply Wageningen University & Research. I was at a meeting in Antwerp recently, and there were researchers from Croatia, Austria, Spain and all sorts of places. The name Imares doesn’t mean anything to them, but they’ve all heard of Wageningen. But now yet another brand name is being created: Wageningen University & Research. We’ll probably call ourselves Wageningen Marine Research rather than Imares. Anyway Imares is to stay in use as a nickname, whatever that might mean. That will cause confusion.’

Marcel Hulst, Researcher at Wageningen UR Livestock Research in Wageningen and elsewhere


‘I think it’s quite handy to have one name for everyone. It’s impossible to explain the way it is now to clients. Apart from Livestock Research I am also involved in projects with the CVI and I work for the Animal Breeding & Genetics Group. When I say who I work for, people get very confused. All those names: business units, sciences groups, institutes… Outsiders can’t see the wood for the trees.’

Ellen van Kleef, Associate professor in the Marketing and Consumer Behaviour chair group

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‘I understand the problem of finding the right name. You want to make it as simple and clear as possible for outsiders. But when I type the new name I think I will be inclined to leave out the word “research”. That is included in the word “university”: we do research here and it feels superfluous to repeat that. I haven’t been giving this any thought at all and now it makes me wonder. Do I have to mention the new affiliation next time I submit an article to a journal?’

Martijn van de Heide, Researcher at LEI Wageningen UR in The Hague

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‘I think it’s a good idea in itself. We all agree by now that we need to aim for One Wageningen. If that’s what you want you shouldn’t keep up the distinctions between institutes to the outside world. I shan’t feel any less of a bond with Wageningen University & Research than with LEI. And I hope that this will reduce the internal competition: looking enviously at other institutes. I do think it’s a pity to lose a tradition, though. The LEI goes back 75 years, and its name is a strong brand in the agricultural world.’

Peter Willemsen, Researcher at CVI Wageningen UR in Lelystad

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‘I totally understand the wish for uniformity. But now the CVI is subjected – and this has already happened four or five times – to a change of name that will make it less well-known. Internationally, “CVI” and “Lelystad” are big names. If you scrap those names you throw away capital.  Of course, you get the name Wageningen in exchange, and it is a great name. But I know from experience that companies can’t find you again after a name change.’