For a few months in the summer of 1999 the rumours of a merger with Hoogovens had firmed up and finally the announcement was made that said merger would take place in October. At the time of the announcement no name or logo was as yet available, and the still to be named company was referred to by the ungainly name of “British Steel – Koninklijke Hoogovens” or its acronym BS-KH.

Then came the moment where all was going to be revealed. We sat through a lengthy presentation, which as its final slide displayed the name “Corus” and the following logo:

Corus Logo

I’m sure this was meant to be a climax where we were all supposed to give a standing ovation and clap with unbridled enthusiasm. Instead what transpired was a general feeling of confusion and anticlimax – we just looked at each other and thought “huh?”.

We had been advised that specialist designers had been searching for a suitable name and logo which did not imply a heritage or predominance of either the British Steel or the Koninklijke Hoogovens side. That’s why the colour red was chosen. But why Corus ? Even in those days before Google and Wikipedia a quick internet search already highlighted the existence of a hotel chain and a Chicago bank of the same name (see the link to Wikipedia below1). That question has never been answered to my satisfaction.

It was not long before black humour took over when the synergy promised during the formation of Corus turned out to mean downsizing of a number of plants in South Wales. As part of the Process Development team I was on a Cold Rolling course in Ashorne Hill when the first cuts to Ebbw Vale’s workforce were announced. One presenter drew our attention to the fact that the Corus logo on one of his slides had been cut off:

Cut-off Corus Logo

with the words “As you can see, they’ve cut us out of Corus”. Alternatively the following modification was made to the logo :

Corus Logo Turned

which could be interpreted as someone bending over to receive a spanking.

All in all not an auspicious start to what should have been heady days, but as I’ll explain in a future blog, the match between British Steel and Koninklijke Hoogovens was not the perfect one that had been promised prior to the merger.

In the end we got used to the name and the logo, and settled for one of its lesser known meanings, that of being a second-class god of the northwest wind.

(1) Wikipedia Entry on “Corus”


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