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Obamacare By Any Other Name
By: Jeannine Wheeler
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With the admission this week by former Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the Obamacare program “has a very bad brand” comes the realization that sometimes, a tarnished brand’s only recourse is a name change.

This is not a new phenomenon.

Following bankruptcies, natural or manmade disasters, mergers, re-brands, litigation, takeovers, or controversies, some of the world’s biggest brands have opted for the name change. And it may not be because of any of the above.

FedEx, for example, changed its name in 2000 from Federal Express to FedEx after taking a cold, hard look at its business, which by then was operating worldwide.

According to the Corporate Design Foundation:

“Its research showed the existing identity had two great strengths: the strong brand equity of Federal Express (and its popular verb form FedEx) both closely identified with speed, reliability, innovation and customer service, and the power of its signature colors purple and orange to communicate urgency and leadership. Research surveys also uncovered problems with the word federal. In 1973, the word had given the company immediate equity, an official alternative to the post office, but today it was more often associated with being bureaucratic and slow. In Latin American countries, it conjured images of the federales, and in some other parts of the world, people had trouble pronouncing Federal Express.”

Add to that: most people were calling the package delivery company FedEx anyway!

Regarding the Affordable Care Act, Sebelius told Politico’s "Lessons from Leaders" event this past Wednesday:  "Obamacare, no question, has a very bad brand that has been driven intentionally by a lot of misinformation and a lot of paid advertising." She added, “I think we may need to call it something in the future different, but it is working."

For many different reasons, here are some brands that have changed their names over the years.

Xerox Corporation
Formerly The Haloid Company
Changed 1961
 
CA Technologies
Formerly Computer Associates, Inc.
Changed to CA, Inc. 2006
Changed to CA Technologies 2010
 
Nissan Motor Company, Ltd.
Formerly Datsun
Changed 1981
 
Accenture
Formerly Andersen Consulting
Changed 2000
 
Altria
Formerly Philip Morris Companies Inc.
Changed 2003
 
Xe Services
Formerly Blackwater Worldwide
Changed 2009
 
LG Corp.
Formerly Lucky and GoldStar Co, Ltd.
Changed 1995
 
Panasonic Corporation
Formerly Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.
Changed 2008
 
Oracle Corporation
Formerly Relational Software
Changed 1995
 
Bearing Point
Formerly KPMG Consulting
Changed 2002
 
Google
Formerly BackRub
Changed 1998
 
IBM
Formerly Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation
Changed 1924
 
KFC
Kentucky Fried Chicken
Changed 1990
 


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About the Author
Jeannine Wheeler is a PR Director who has worked in three countries, including Russia, the US and the UK. She is currently Sr. Vice President of Pure Energy PR, a full-service boutique communications firm with a focus on the energy, healthcare, technology, construction, real estate & land development, tourism & hospitality and food & beverage industries. Jeannine is in the firm's Austin, Texas office.
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