September 5, 2014
By Stan Alcorn
What do you do when your brand gets adopted by a terrorist organization? That's the question faced by businesses with ISIS in their names - the English-language acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The most extreme strategy is to simply change the name. Mobile payment app Isis has announced it will change its name to Softcard.
But so far, this is the exception. There are 49 corporations in New York State alone with "Isis" in their name, from Isis Fitness to Isis Nails.
Patricia Luzi is the founder of Isis Essentials, selling organic oils and other products. She's not afraid of a terrorist homophone.
"Isis is an Egyptian goddess and has been for thousands of years," she says. "I am not affected at all."
According to Steve Manning, founder of naming agency Igor, most Isis-branded businesses have nothing to fear because there is little chance of confusion with a violent sect of Sunni fundamentalists.
"But if your business isn't doing well or if you've got a bad reputation, it's the perfect excuse to make a change," he adds.
This is what Manning believes was the true motivation of the mobile wallet app that is now called Softcard.
"The irony being this mobile wallet was a huge initiative that never got any traction," Manning says. "Had it, they wouldn't have changed the name."
It wasn't so much protecting a successful brand, as abandoning a failed one.