ISIS Causes Companies across the Globe to Consider Rebranding

By Morgan Stritzinger

Isis is a popular brand name for companies worldwide, perhaps because in classical mythology, Isis was an ancient Egyptian goddess worshipped as an idyllic mother and wife. The Islamic terrorist group, ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), has brought an entirely different association to the name. ISIS is responsible for thousands of recent deaths across Iraq and Syria, including the beheading of several journalists. Companies with the name Isis have been struggling to decide to rebrand or keep a name that is now commonly associated with terror and horror.

                Rebranding an entire corporation is not a simple task, yet in certain situations the benefits can outweigh the costs. Creating and producing all new logo design, signs, packaging, stationery and other branded elements can cost thousands or even millions of dollars, depending on the size of the company. Companies must also inform all customers of the rebranding because it can cause confusion, potentially affecting sales. This is a very difficult process for companies that have grown an established name and strong brand recognition over a long period of time and often feel emotionally connected to it.

This is not the first time a company has decided to rebrand due to a negative connotation associated with its brand name. In 1945 the car manufacturer Jaguar was originally named SS Cars. An advertising agency advised the company to change its name due to its association with the fearful Nazi police squad, the SS.

                Isis Wallet, a mobile payment system, has decided to undergo rebranding. The company worked vigorously to rebrand and decided to take the name “Softcard.” Chief Executive Officer Michael Abbott wrote in a blog post, “We have no interest in sharing a name with a group whose name has become synonymous with violence, and our hearts go out to those who are suffering. As a company, we have made the decision to rebrand.” Abbott is not alone. ISIS Mag, a London-based beauty magazine, has also decided to rebrand. Founder of the magazine, Linda Graham, told RT, “We started getting messages from our Facebook page that we were part of the terrorist organization, so I said to my business partner 'we have to rebrand.'”

                Although keeping the name “Isis” has been referred to as “brand suicide” some companies have decided to stand by established brand names. Isis Pharmaceuticals is not planning to rename the company. Chairman Dr. Stanley Crook told CNBC, "I don't feel like I want to capitulate to these terrorists by changing my name. They can change their name."

 Although companies may not be worried about the negative associations with the terrorist group, there are still other aspects to consider. A web search for “Isis” will be flooded with global news articles that have saturated news platforms over the past few months, moving any businesses named Isis down on the list of search results. Rebranding can be a daunting task, but negative associations can be extremely detrimental to a company, making it worthwhile in the long run.