How we named a new venture from Shell and IBM

May 19, 2020

Brand naming for a mining solutions marketplace by Shell and IBM

Regardless of how long you’ve been doing this is it still exciting when industry giants want to work with you. So we were thrilled when Shell and IBM approached us to help with Brand Naming and a Visual Identity for their new joint venture.

The brands have partnered to tackle the mammoth task of innovating the mining industry. An outdated and conservative sector that remains largely unchanged despite years of growth.

By combining Shell’s extensive industry knowledge with IBM’s unrivaled technical expertise the partnership is creating a Smart Mining Digital Marketing place. A way for mining companies to discover innovative mining solutions, and a platform for solutions developers to sell to businesses they would otherwise struggle to gain access to. 

Introducing Oren. A mining marketplace that facilitates trusted exchanges between multiple parties at scale. 

The Challenge

The mining and metals industry is recovering from one of its most difficult periods in decades. Market volatility and a downturn in commodity prices have created a new normal where cost cuts, automation and operational efficiency are vital. To thrive in the future mining companies must challenge the status quo, How? By soliciting a diverse range of opinions and identifying new ways of working. In the uncertainty of 2020 Shell and IBM have bundled their strengths and reputations to accelerate services in mining. 

Our brief was to create a new brand. One that becomes a symbol for digital transformation leadership and sustainable growth in mining. The brand name, positioning and identity were to be created in line with the company’s vision, outlined below: 

to transform the mining industry by creating a new industry standard digital marketplace that will help the players navigate the energy transition, extend the ecosystem and optimize mining operations.

The main challenge was to create a brand name and identity that appealed to quite different groups of stakeholders: conservative mining facilities managers, mining innovation experts and high growth solution providers. 

Our Approach

Our goal was to create a brand name and subsequent identity that embodied and celebrated tradition and innovation.

Using our lean brand naming methodology – a combination of research and collaborative exercises – we provided the Shell and IBM team with a shortlist of names in less than two weeks. By engaging internal stakeholders we were able to quickly discover what makes them tick – ensuring we arrived at a future-proof name all stakeholders are proud to be associated with.


Our brand naming exercise began with an audit of mining companies and other complementary heavy industries. Our research revealed traditional and conservative industries are oversaturated with straightforward names (GE Mining, Newmont Gold Corp, Barrick Gold) – most companies simply add mineral names to their existing brand. 

As predicted popular ‘heavy industry’ names were mostly generic and descriptive. Whilst marketplace and innovative solution names were evocative, inspirational and often widely understood – missing out on trademarks and .com domains as a result.

Brand Naming

Through multiple team workshops we identified several important naming characteristics: trust-inducing, strong, globally-scalable, a balance of tradition and innovation and solution-inclusive. With ambitions to expand beyond mining in the future the name also had to be industry agnostic, yet rooted in the natural resource heritage of Shell. An agnostic brand was vital in attracting additional industries interested in bringing the marketplace to their verticals.

Following multiple workshops and semantic exploration we arrived at Oren: a bold-sounding name derived from the masculine name “Orin” and lightly associated with natural resources — “Ore”.

Oren was inspired by a word bank of language-agnostic keywords, predominantly of Greek and Latin origin. Words that induce a sense of calmness, strength and reliability.

For conservative heavy industries Oren is accessible, familiar and masculine – yet it’s future proof nature also appeals to a younger, more innovative audience. It brings personality and a human touch to the industry whilst amplifying the brand’s mission of facilitating exchanges between multiple parties.  

On completion of the brand naming exercise the subsequent visual identity was a symbol of strength, leadership and innovation within heritage. 

The Outcome

Armed with a new brand name and visual tool kit Shell and IBM will be launching the Oren marketplace in Summer 2020. 

Portfolio view: Naming, Brand Development and Web Design for Oren

Case study: Naming, Brand Development and Web Design for Oren

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