What happens when your perfectly good brand name suddenly goes bad? Sometimes brand name changes are forced upon companies, like when "UberCabs" was issued a legal notice claiming they were operating an unlicensed taxi service, compelling the name change to Uber.
Changing brand names risks loss of hard won goodwill and brand capital, so how do you know when to cut your losses and lose your good name? We look at two case studies to compare brand response.
Ayds was an appetite suppressant chocolate and one of the top selling weight loss products in the 1970’s and 80’s.
When Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) emerged in the 1980’s, sales initially seemed unaffected and the owners were reluctant to change the successful brand.
But by the end of the 1980’s as the epidemic and public awareness increased, sales swiftly declined. In a last minute gambit the company changed the name to “Diet Ayds” hoping to cling to their well known brand name. It wasn’t enough, and the company is now defunct.
In what must have seemed like a good idea at the time, a commercial office fitout company was named “Isis” when it was established in 1989.
Fast-forward a couple of decades, and the rise of a certain violent terrorist organization meant a major brand headache and significant public safety issues for their staff.
Staff wearing branded uniforms and bags drew “attention” on public transport and were abused at shops, cafes and worksites. The company received messages such as “Hey you terrorist bastards, I hope you bastards all die in Iraq, you terrorist al-Qaeda bastards, you ISIS pieces of s**t.”
Genuinely worried for the safety of its employees, the company moved quickly to instruct workers not to wear ISIS branded clothing and to remove all onsite branding.
The company underwent a brand name change and now is back on track as Shape Group.
WHILE WE'RE ON THE TOPIC OF BRAND NAMES...
Some great finds we'd like to share with you.
Episode #5: How to name your company – choosing a favourite name is only the beginning.
This serial narrative podcast follows the warts and all process of building a business with 15-year veteran of This American Life, Alex Blumberg. Full of insights and laughs.
Your brand’s emotional connections
If you had to pick two emotions your clients feel about your brand – what would they be?
Insightful article by Derrick Daye for Branding Strategy Insider