Why Companies Change Their Names

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Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC when fried food went out of fashion and began to be seen as unhealthy and fattening. The moisturiser Oil of Olay became simply Olay when women turned to more natural, less greasy, cosmetics. Fashions and tastes change and a wise company monitors trends to ensure that its name remains up to date and relevant.

Charities need to remain in touch with current mores and values, otherwise their fundraising efforts will fall on deaf ears. The National Council for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child was founded in Britain in 1918, when having a child out of wedlock carried an enormous stigma. Society's attitude towards illegitimacy changed, so the organization became the National Council of One Parent Families in 1973. The British charity Relate, which provides relationship counseling, was called the National Marriage Guidance Council until the 1980s, but had to change its name, as fewer couples were getting married and non-married couples were not approaching the organization for advice. The word Marriage in the name was a barrier.

As society's attitudes to disabled people have become more enlightened, so have some charities changed their names to sound more positive instead of stressing the disability. The Spastics Society became Scope and the National Schizophrenic Fellowship became Rethink.

The word euthanasia is a very loaded term so the Voluntary Euthanasia Society changed its name to Dignity in Dying. Crusade is another loaded word - George W Bush was advised not to use it because it has negative associations in the Muslim world. The British evangelical Christian youth organization the Crusaders changed its name in 2007 to the Urban Saints. Schools were refusing to set up Crusader branches because they felt that the name would offend some pupils and fewer people were donating money to the organization. Urban Saints still contains the Christianity-related word Saints, but its new name is much more up to date and more appealing to young people.

Sometimes a company renames itself because its original name was bland and boring, which has a knock-on effect on consumers' perceptions. The UK television channel Dave, which broadcasts sport and other male-oriented programs, used to be called UKTV G2, which sounds more like a European Union directive than an entertainment service. PhonePayPlus, the UK regulatory body for premium phone lines, used to be called ICSTIS, a name that said nothing at all. The dance troupe Ballet Boyz sounds far more edgy and innovative than its previous name, George Piper Dances.

The UK insurance company Norwich Union became Aviva because the parent company felt that the word Norwich was too parochial - Norwich is a British city. The company wanted to stress that it was a global player. Aviva, being a made-up word, has no negative connotations. That was not the case with the name Consignia, chosen to replace Royal Mail in 2000, when the British postal company felt that the word Royal was too UK-centric. First of all, the word Consignia can be pronounced in two different ways - is it meant to be more like consign or more like insignia? Secondly, the word consign tends to appear in negative phrases such as consign to the scrapheap or consign to history.

The English language is a living thing and so is constantly changing. The meaning of words can change, words can become dated or words that were once acceptable come to be regarded as discriminatory, offensive or in some way 'loaded'. If you chose your business name a while ago, make sure that it is still giving the right impression.

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Susan Purcell has 1 articles online

For more articles and information on choosing a winning name for your brand or business, go to Susan Purcell's site, http://winningnames.co.uk/. Start reading Choosing a Winning Name for Your Business now by clicking here http://www.winningnames.co.uk/businessname.php.

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Why Companies Change Their Names

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This article was published on 2010/03/27