What's in a Name?

Some companies announce a name change for publicity. Others do it to reflect changes in society.
Patricia DeLuca

March 31, 2021

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This week, two companies announced updates to its name for very different reasons. 

On Monday, Volkswagen announced on social media it was changing its name to 

Voltswagen

, complete with a teaser of its logo rebranding. According to the automotive company's post on Twitter yesterday, the name change reflected the company's release of more electric-powered vehicles in the upcoming years. 

The rebrand was an early 

April Fool's Day prank

, which was as well-received as 

IHOP's name change 

in 2018. So far, Volkswagen hasn't received much backlash about the trick, even though multiple news outlets ran the joke as legitimate news. The company 

remains firm

 on its commitment to producing more electric vehicles in the near future, however. 

Does taking an April Fools' Day joke far bode well for a brand? Sure, observing the holiday is a way to increase brand visibility and become a trending topic online. Still, when it becomes so involved that news outlets report it as fact, it could seem like a waste

of resources. Imagine how many hours a graphic designer created artwork for a company rebrand, only to find out 

it was a joke

But the trend toward rebranding is coming to the fore at present. 

On a more serious note, apparel brand Chinatown Market was recently called out by fashion insiders (including 

Diet Prada

) to change its name in light of the increase of Asian American and Pacific Islander injustices this year.

The company listened

 to its critics. On Wednesday, the brand announced it was changing its name and will 

donate

 proceeds of sales of a product featuring the old brand name to charity. The rebranding will also 

delay an upcoming skin in the Apex Legends series

The company formerly known as Chinatown Market's response is an excellent example of a brand acting on not-so-favorable public feedback. They listened to its critics, apologized and acted swiftly. Compare the apparel company's reaction to other products on the market that took decades to change its insensitive product name despite public outcry. The rebranding of 

Aunt Jemima products

 to Pearl Milling Company only happened this year.

Product branding is serious business. It should encompass the company's mission and passion. However, if the brand's name no longer reflects its society – and society is calling on the change – then it's time to rebrand. The only thing constant is change, and that's no laughing matter. 

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