Choosing a brand name is critical to that brand’s identity. Sometimes a brand comes up with a name and everything just works—then sometimes something in the news comes up and wrecks everything.
For these 3 brands, the name has ended up with some pretty unsavory associations.
Nowadays, Isis probably brings up images of terror and violence—but it wasn’t always that way. In history, Isis was the name of a female Egyptian goddess. The mythology describes Isis as a symbol for health, marriage, and love. An idea that helped the worship of Isis spread to Roman traditions from Egypt. Because of the symbolism of the goddess Isis, it seemed like a beautiful and strong business name for a lot of brands – including the Isis Wallet. The mobile payment service allows users to pay directly for goods and services with a smartphone.
In recent times however, Isis has started to widely be associated with the extremist group – Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
To combat the negative name association, Isis Wallet has recently renamed its app to Softcard. The brand is trying to move quickly, though there is still some remains of the Isis name on the website, but soon everything will be transitioned.
Ayds Candy was initially introduced in the 1970s as a diet aid and appetite suppressant. The brand did well in the U.S. until the 1980s with the rise of awareness surrounding acquired immunodeficiency syndrome –better known as AIDS.
After big name celebrities passed away from AIDS, including actor Rock Hudson and Freddie Mercury of the band Queen, the disease saw a meteoric rise in awareness and activism. The symptoms of AIDS – and its precursor, HIV – happen to have a common overlap with Ayds candy: weight loss, which makes watching the ads for Ayds in 2014 all the more cringe-worthy.
Finally in 1988, Dep Corporation, the owner of the Ayds candy brand, announced it would be changing the brand name because of a 50% drop in sales. The name was changed to Diet Ayd candy bar, but sales never recovered, and it was soon pulled off the market.
Keeping with the disease trend, Ebola Communications is a Ukrainian digital marketing firm. Despite its direct reference to a virus – meant to be a pun on “viral marketing”—the six year old agency hadn’t had any issues with the name until the recent outbreaks, when word of the insensitively named firm started to go, well, viral. Even now after a major outbreak in West Africa has caused a global epidemic, Yaroslav Korets, managing director of digital production, told Digiday, the agency hasn’t really received any backlash.
When questioned by AdAge about the decision, Korets responded, “We took the name of Ebola virus because it is widely considered to be the most dangerous and spreading rapidly virus in the world. Our idea was successful.”
So far, the name Ebola seems to be working for the agency, but if the virus spreads further– time will tell if it’ll infect the agency’s reputation enough to inspire a name change.