When terrorists steal your name: The sorry plight of the brands called Isis

Sarah Spickernell
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Ann Summers brought out their ISIS products in August (Source: Flickr)
Is there no such thing as bad publicity? If your brand carries the same name as an extremist terrorist outfit you might feel differently.
Since emerging earlier this year, the militant group Isis has changed its name twice - it is now also known as Islamic State (IS) and Isil (Islamic State of Syria and the Levant) but its original branding remains the most dominant name by which it is referred.
The radical group is notorious for the brutal methods it has adopted in its mission to establish a religious state in northern Iraq and Syria.
It turns out there are a surprising number of brands named Isis - taking inspiration from the Egyptian goddess worshipped for being an ideal wife and mother.
The cost of rebranding can be huge - but so could the repercussions of not doing so.
London-based Isis Equity Partners announced this week that it was changing its name.
A statement on its website reads:
Given ongoing events in Syria and Iraq, it will come as no surprise to you to learn that we have decided to change our name. We are no longer prepared to share it with a terrorist organisation.
We will hopefully be in a position to unveil our new brand in the coming weeks, however it is very much business as usual as far as we are concerned. Even though the name above the door will change, we remain focused and committed to invest in and support high growth UK companies run by entrepreneurial management teams.
A US mobile banking company called Isis has already changed its name completely in order to avoid association.
The company, which produces a downloadable app for contactless payments from users' phones - is now called Softcard, instead. “Isis wallet is now Softcard. It's a different name for the same great way to pay,” the firm says on its website.
Underwear retailer Ann Summers actually launched its Isis brand after the militants came to notoriety in the Middle East. The range, which appeared in shop windows in August, included plunge bra and a babydoll, both in monochrome colours.
But almost as soon as it was launched, the lingerie company realised what it had done and attempted to distance itself from the group. A spokesperson said at the time: “We in no way support or condone any act of terrorism or violence. We apologise for any offence caused.”
Others are making some subtle changes.
The Boston-based music band Isis had to change its Facebook page to be “Isis the band” so as not to be confused with the militants, while Isis Mag – a London-based hair and beauty magazine for women of African descent – has been forced to change its logo so the word “Mag” is much more prominent in the title.
“We wanted our readers to, you know, unleash the goddess within them, so that was how we got the name Isis. We started getting messages from our Facebook page that we were part of the terrorist organisation, so I said to my business partner 'we have to rebrand,'” founder Linda Graham, told Russia Today.
But some, such as Isis Schools, which has a branch in Greenwich and one in central London, appears to be sticking to its guns.
Hong Kong model agency Isis Model Management has similarly made no changes to its name or branding as a result of the Islamic State.

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