I’ve a couple of friends who have changed their names as adults, but I must say I often find it difficult to embrace this without having some context around their reasoning. I often “forget,” or truthfully—even resist the change and call them by their former names until I know a bit more about why their old name wasn’t good enough. I find even if it’s none of my business, I still want some help adjusting.
Renaming an organization can often encounter similar challenges. Dedicated employees who have long worked for an organization in the midst of such a change, if not properly informed, might feel mislead. External audiences who have done business with a renamed organization might wonder what prompted the effort. And shareholders will, no doubt, wonder, ‘is it worth it?” But a change for the right reasons can often be a good business decision when an organization or its industry has evolved.
The Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, (AIAM) approached Grafik to rebrand their organization. Let’s start with some context. While the association members are some of the most respected and forward-thinking automobile manufacturers in the world, the association itself was often passed over by the media to weigh in on key issues that effect the industry including policies on free trade, government mandates and more. The organization also suffered from dated, but nagging perceptions that the association was comprised of “foreign” manufacturers—this, in a time when just about every manufacturer collaborates across borders. Rebranding offered the organization an opportunity to update its image and better define their voice. The new effort would also allow them to improve their communications tools to members and the public.
Another factor, the timing was right. AIAM was planning to move their headquarters from Virginia closer into DC for a stronger physical presence near Capitol Hill. This meant they would need to develop new signage and change their address on all past communications tools.
Grafik began with a series of interviews to get a pulse on the organization’s goals, communication efforts to date and marketing resources. We knew that naming might be something to consider, but needed a deeper dive to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of such an effort.
Just as important, we knew if we were going to suggest a new name it had to be memorable—something easy to say, after spending years getting lost in Washington DC’s association acronym soup. We learned that even answering the phone for the organization was at times, challenging. “Hello, this is A-I-A-M.” Or, “Hi this is Aim.” If the front desk wasn’t comfortable saying their name consistently, how could they expect others to?
While considering the name, the show had to go on. Grafik reviewed their communications tools and competitive set to compare how like-minded organizations were communicating. The website, their primary marketing tool, was difficult to navigate and failed to surface the information that defines their industry leadership, innovations and investments in the U.S. market. In tandem with our rebranding strategy Grafik began an interactive discovery process to create the next generation website with new tools to publish content and get their message out as needed.
Still considering a name change we began exploring creative execution including the logo, brand thematic and voice of the organization. We developed “Ahead of the Curve” which captured the history of leadership and innovation that the association’s members have aspired to. Then, after brewing a witches’ potion and sacrificing a designer who unwittingly stayed late at Grafik, we proposed “Global Automakers” as the new name to move forward with.