Monday, May 27, 2013

Company name changes

company name change
Late last year I wrote about an issue that my wife had with LivingSocial and a Twin Cities-based Zerona laser treatments provider named Maple Grove Wellness.

Since that post, Maple Grove Wellness changed its name to Non-Surgical Clinic of the Twin Cities. I read many other complaints online related to Zerona laser treatments and LivingSocial deals with Maple Grove Wellness, so I'm assuming that the provider changed its name to just start over with its reputation.

Sometimes that's what it takes. On a bigger scale, here's a look at some companies who changed their names presumably to avoid future controversy:
  • ValuJet Airlines -- This low-cost airline carrier ran into reputation problems because of emergency landings, issues with quality assurance procedures, and one of the highest accident rates in the low-fare sector. The highest-profile incident with ValuJet came on May 11, 1996, when a plane flying from Miami to Atlanta crashed in the Florida Everglades, killing all 110 persons on board. ValuJet's reputation never recovered, and the airline merged with the much smaller parent company of AirTran Airways. After the 1997 merger, the ValuJet name disappeared. AirTran Airways was acquired by Southwest Airlines in 2011.
  • Philip Morris Companies Inc. -- While the official reason for the name change in 2003 to Altria was to provide greater "clarity" reflecting the "evolution" of the company, the organization most likely just wanted to distance itself from publicity nightmares -- such as then company president William Campbell's 1994 sworn testimony to Congress that "I believe nicotine is not addictive."
  • Blackwater -- The company changed its name to Xe Services LLC in an attempt to leave behind issues from the Iraq War, such as charges related to a 2007 shooting that left 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians dead. In 2011, the company changed its name again -- this time to Academi.
Some company name changes are just plain dumb, such as Netflix's abandoned plan to change the name of its DVD-by-mail service to Qwikster. Or how about when Canada's Conservative Party and Reform Party merged to form the Conservative Reform Alliance Party (C.R.A.P.)? Realizing their mistake, that name quickly was changed to Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance.
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