Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What’s in a name? Be Careful What Your Association Asks For

In February, RIM officially changed its corporate name to BlackBerry
In his Associations Now post about the changes coming at Blackberry and Office, Ernie Smith said:

“And what about that name change? Slate’s Brian Palmer says BlackBerry has a tough road ahead, pointing out that many companies, including Nissan, Exxon, and Unisys, have spent tens of millions of dollars paying for name changes, with mixed results. ‘When an established company changes names, it’s usually to break out of a slump—and it rarely works,’ Palmer argues.

Here are a couple of more quotes from Palmer’s Slate post titled Do Corporate Name Changes Ever Work? 

  • Do name changes save struggling companies? Not usually. Most studies show that a name change has either little effect on a business’s long-term prospects or a mildly negative impact.
  • When an established company changes names, it’s usually to break out of a slump—and it rarely works. Corporations with falling stock prices prior to a name change perform even worse in the three years afterward, in part because the move smacks of desperation to investors. 
  • Changing names is quite expensive.
So, what about associations? Does changing an association’s name change the end results?

Association Name Changes

I’ve been part of name changes for three different associations.
  • One national group changed to reach a broader segment of its industry and ended up losing some of its core members. While it made sense six years ago, hindsight shows the organization should have stuck with its original name.
  • Another national professional society changed its name to better reflect its mission. It has had mixed results in the six years since the change.
  • A local professional organization just changed its name as a means to better reflect the organization as well as to encourage new memberships. It is too early to know whether it will succeed.
Meanwhile, as Associations Now reported, the American Women in Radio and Television changed its name to the Alliance for Women in Media and membership skyrocketed from 1,500 members to 7,000 members. But the organization made several concurrent changes – including adopting a freemium dues model – that could account for the membership increase.

No comments:

Post a Comment