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The other ISISs

By Dian Vujovich

There is nothing more important—and valuable—to an individual or a company than their name. Parents spend hours selecting the right name for their about-to-be-born child. Company owners and CEOs do the same. Branding, i.e., name recognition, matters a lot.

Take Isis, for instance. For most of us, simply hearing that word conjures up ugly, unsettling and troubling thoughts. No warm and fuzzies here. That’s unfortunate too because the name finds its Greek origin seeped in Egyptian religion: Isis was a goddess worshiped as an ideal mother, wife and patroness of nature and magic.

She was also a friend to everyone—the rich, poor, artists, slaves, aristocrats, rulers, etc. Representing all of those wonders it is easy to see why public and private companies would choose her name to represent their endeavors.

But the reality of today’s ISIS and ISIL, the radical Sunni insurgency that is waging war under the name Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and the Islamic state of Iraq and Levant, whose warriors aggressively behead and murder anyone in their path, aren’t representative of anything even close to what mythology’s Isis symbolized.

Given that truth, it’s not surprising to understand why some companies have decided to change their names.

I found three firms named Isis within the financial industry. One, a pharmaceutical company, ISIS pharmaceutical, has decided to stick to its moniker. The others have not.

Isis Pharmaceuticals is a 25-year-old drug company trading under the ticker symbol ISIS. It has no plans to change its name.

“It is, of course, an unfortunate twist of fate that an al-Qaeda offshoot is referred to by an acronym that matches our company name … [but] our company name is not associated with a retail consumer market,” wrote Amy Blackley, a spokeswoman for the company in an email. “Physicians and medical staff we work with know us very well, and are not confused by the recent news regarding the terrorist group in Iraq.”

That’s not the case for startup company Isis, creator of Isis Wallet, an app brought to us via phone companies that links your credit card and smartphone and allows in-store purchases via one simple swipe.

The company recently changed its name to Softcard.

“We have no interest in sharing a name with a group whose name has become synonymous with violence, and our hearts go out to those who are suffering,” said Michael Abbott , Isis CEO.

Lastly, ISIS Lab Coronation, a Canadian company that trades on the Toronto Exchange, (symbol LAB,) announced yesterday that, upon approval, will change its name to IMPERUS Technologies Corp.

This online gaming company was winner of The 2013 Most Innovative Start-up Company of the year at the GIGSE Conference in San Francisco, California. One of its online games: mobile Bingo.

Bottom line: There’s more to a name than a few letters.

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