Shareholders of Hershey Foods Corp. voted to shorten the company's name to The Hershey Co. and to drop the longtime corporate logo—a stylized "H" that resembles a lucky charm.
The new logo is Hershey's iconic chocolate bar, punctuated with a Kiss. The company unveiled its new name and look at the annual shareholders' meeting at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. About 1,500 investors attended. Shareholders overwhelmingly voted to approve the name change as the company undertakes a corporate makeover that also includes ventures into cookies, health bars and big-city retail stores.
"This new name reflects our company's exceptional heritage and is how our consumers and customers best know us," said Richard H. Lenny, chairman, president and CEO. "It also conveys Hershey's promising future as we continue to focus on building momentum in the confectionery and broader snacks markets."
The new name is the company's fourth since its founding in 1894. The original name was Hershey Chocolate Co. It has been known as Hershey Foods Corp. since 1968.
The change, although subtle, was immediate. As shareholders left the meeting, workers changed the flags outside the corporate headquarters and factories to new ones proclaiming "The Hershey Company." The company also updated its corporate website address to Thehersheycompany.com.
Hershey introduced its milk chocolate bar, known for its brown paper wrapper, in 1900. Hershey's Kisses were born in 1907. The company came up with its new name and logo largely internally, said spokeswoman Stephanie Moritz, noting that the cost associated with the change was minimal.
Putting two of its well-known products out front helps link the company to its most popular products in the minds of investors, one corporate branding expert said.
"I suspect this change is less about impacting consumer perception than investor perception," said Anthony Shore, creative director of naming and writing for Landor Associates, a brand consulting firm based in San Francisco.
Shore said the corporate entity of Hershey Foods was never as well known as its brands—particularly its Hershey's chocolate bars and Hershey's Kisses. In consumers' minds, "Hershey Foods as a company appeared as a very small endorsement on the back of their packages," he said.
Shareholder William Focht was pragmatic about the changes, citing the company's desire to compete globally and the need to back it up with a focused corporate profile and advertising.
"It's a new world," said Focht, whose uncle worked in a Hershey chocolate factory. "It's not just a little central Pennsylvania company anymore."
By a wide margin, shareholders also approved the board's proposal to double the company's authorized shares from 525 million to 1.05 billion. Lenny said the company had no immediate plans to issue additional stock, but he said the move will ensure that the company has sufficient financial resources to pursue growth opportunities in the future.