Officials with Isis, the mobile wallet service that was created by AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, two months ago said the company would rebrand to avoid sharing the same name as the Islamic militants who are cutting a bloody swath through the Middle East.
They announced on the company Website Sept. 3 that within the next few weeks Isis would become Softcard. "It's a different name for the same great way to pay," the announcement on the site's landing page said.
"In July, we announced that we would rebrand the Isis Wallet to avoid confusion and association with a violent Islamic militant group in the Middle East whose name, when translated into English, is known by the acronym, ISIS," CEO Michael Abbott wrote in a post on the company blog. "However coincidental, we have no desire to share a name with this group and our hearts go out to those affected by this violence."
Abbott wrote that the company's "search for a new name has been rooted in our founding vision: to use the power of the mobile phone to help consumers find a safer and better way to shop, pay and save. But we also wanted a name and visual identity that had the power, flexibility and simplicity to define our category. Today, I'm pleased to announce we will rebrand the Isis Wallet to Softcard."
Customers' Isis Wallet app will continue to work during the transition, and the company within the next few weeks will roll out an updated app carrying the Softcard name. Users then will be able to update the app as they've always done "and see that your Isis Wallet has become Softcard," Abbott said.
The CEO's comments echo those he made in another blog in July, when he told customers the company was seeking a name change.
"Recently, we have observed with growing concern a militant group whose name, when translated into English, is Islamic State of Iraq and Syria—often referenced by the acronym ISIS," Abbott wrote in July.
ISIS grew out of the conflict in Syria, and over the past several months has worked to establish an Islamic caliphate out of parts of that country and Iraq. In the process, the group has killed thousands of people and, most recently, made headlines by beheading two U.S. journalists to avenge bombing attacks by the United States.
Possibly being associated with such a group, even if through name only, was distasteful enough for Isis officials to make the change. There are others in a similar position. According to a search done by global branding consultancy Interbrand, there are at least 160 other trademarks registered for Isis or phonetically similar names, from gem stones to restaurant services to cosmetic services.
"No name is free of all negative associations in all geographies and languages, and any can fall prey to unrelated news or conversation that happens after launch," Lynne LaCascia, senior director of verbal identity at Interbrand, told eWEEK in June. "News and topics like ISIS generally die down over time, so while it's always a good idea for brands like Isis Wallet to communicate about what value and experience it offers its customers, it's unlikely anyone would assume affiliation or mistake one entity for the other even without that communication."