MONDAY 11 JAN 2016 11:59 AM


When a brand name takes on negative connotations, there’s not much that the organisation can do except weather the storm or change its name.

For Minnesota-based non-profit, ISIS, the situation has become too dire to handle. As the global influence of a terrorist organisation, commonly known as Isis, continues to grow, the zoo software company has decided to rebrand its 40-year-old company in order to escape negative attention.

The non-profit’s name stands for International Species Information System, but is popularly known as ISIS. The name adorns all of its public touchpoints, including its website, In a twist of fate impossible to foresee, the name Isis is no longer reminiscent of an Egyptian Goddess, but of the globally-recognised militant group.

Allegedly, the organisation has recently been contacted by people who want to join the Islamic State. It has also been the subject of pranks and has had to remove its large ‘ISIS’ sign from its door. Diane Hammond, ISIS’s marketing strategist, says, “At first, we thought the connection was a little extreme. But it hasn’t gone away.” The group are now working on a new name, logo and tagline.

The zoo software company is by no means the first business to be affected by this problem. In late-2014, Isis Equity Partners in Britain became Living Bridge, around the same time, a US mobile wallet platform changed its name to Softcard and Isis Pharmaceuticals, which previously stated that it would not rebrand, reconsidered after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. Two weeks ago it changed its name to Ionis Pharmaceuticals.

Beyond major corporations, hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses are also suffering from the same predicament. But while many of the larger companies may choose to rebrand, there are issues for smaller organisations who have less resources to invest in a brand development project. However, as the profile of Islamic State continues to grow, organisations large and small may be forced to act or else suffer damage to their business.

Allies in the Middle East have asked that Islamic State be referred to as ‘Daesh’ in order to separate the group from the Islamic religion – yet for now, the Isis and Isil titles remain the most widely-used.


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