Companies sharing the ISIS name forced to rebrand?

Sarah Coles

Not so long ago the name Isis brought to mind an Egyptian goddess, who was worshiped as the ultimate mother figure representing fertility, marriage and love. Unsurprisingly clever brand managers looking for a name saw plenty of ways in which this beneficent goddess made the idea name for their company. The rise of the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) terrorist group in Iraq and Syria has prompted a sudden need for rebranding among some of them

The danger is that no matter how different and separate the company is from the terrorists, there will be those who assume they are in some way connected - which would encourage consumers to go elsewhere.

RT News identified one affected company as ISIS Mag, a beauty magazine for women of African decent. The founder told RT News that they had been forced to redesign the masthead, so that the word Mag was far more prominent.

Another company drawn into the mess is a wireless payment application system in the US called ISIS, which is backed by T&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. It recently announced it would be changing its name to Softcard. Chief executive Michael Abbott said in a statement: "However coincidental, we have no desire to share a name with this group and our hearts go out to those affected by this violence."

Meanwhile a condominium project in West Palm Beach trying to find buyers decided to rebrand from ISIS Downtown condos to 3 Thirty Three Downtown.

Holding firm
So far, more established firms have tended to hold firm. New York Magazine spoke to Isis Pharmaceuticals which trades on the NASDAQ as ISIS. It said it had discussed changing the name, but had been in business for long enough for people to know the brand and that it has nothing to do with terrorists.

Meanwhile Marks & Spencer said it had no plans to change a 25 year old ISIS toiletries brand in the store on the same grounds.

A large number of firms along the Isis river in Oxford also bear the name - ranging from restaurants and day spas to removal firms and retirement homes. So far none have changed their name - on the understanding that local customers know the area, and therefore understand the origins of the name.

Ann Summers, meanwhile, apologised for a new line of ISIS lingerie, but said that while the timing of the launch had been unfortunate, it wouldn't be removing it from shops. It's probably fair to assume that a hard-line Islamic group has nothing to do with a company selling skimpy lingerie.

Of course, the pressure on these companies might ease if more people recognise that the terrorist group itself has also had a rebrand. Earlier this summer they said they were now called Islamic State (IS). To add to the confusion there are some who argue that the terrorists should more accurately be named ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

Then again, Intersil - the US technology company which trades on the Nasdaq as ISIL - may find that prospect just as much of a headache.

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