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Does the ISIS Mobile Wallet Have a Branding Issue?

The ISIS mobile wallet launched in 2011 but has had trouble gaining traction—maybe a good thing, while a terror group by the same name makes headlines.

ISIS mobile wallet

ISIS may be having a branding issue.

This occurred to me the morning last week that I clicked to Google News and saw ISIS beside the word “beheadings.” A day later, ISIS was said to have stolen $425 million and become the “world’s richest terror force,” in the words of the International Business Times.

Neither report had to do with what I know, or knew, to be ISIS—the mobile wallet solution from Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile—but instead the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which has taken on (if not taken over) ISIS as an acronym.

Perhaps this is the bad-luck equivalent of having someone with your same name do something tawdry or sensational, turning what was yesterday an un-notable name into the cause of snickers for years. (I went to school with an Amy Fisher.) Perhaps it's worse.

What to do?

“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,” said Lynne LaCascia, senior director of Verbal Identity at Interbrand, a global branding consultancy.

“News and topics like ISIS generally die down over time,” LaCascia added, “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.”

The Isis name has its roots in ancient Egypt. Isis was one of the most important worshipped goddesses. She’s the ultimate maternal spirit, a nurturer and magical life source. Hence, the wireless carriers aren’t alone in their attraction to the name.

To offer further perspective, Interbrand’s trademark group took a look for eWEEK and found 160 active trademarks for Isis or phonetic variants. There are Isis cosmetic services, Isis breast pumps, Isis gem stones, restaurant services, a wheat flour and, among many other businesses, a drain and sewer-cleaning service.

Along with them, the mobile wallet ISIS will just have to wait it out, and maybe pray for some unlikely peace.

Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.