Nonprofit Joins The Ranks In Crisis Mode Over ISIS Name

By Jackie Crosby
Star Tribune (Minneapolis).

It’s a headache that no one at the International Species Information System could have predicted.

The company is known across the globe as ISIS. Its website? Unwittingly and arbitrarily, a name once associated with an ancient Egyptian goddess now has become synonymous with terror.

“We’re a small nonprofit,” said Diane Hammond, ISIS’ marketing strategist. “At first, we thought the connection was a little extreme. But it hasn’t gone away.”

The Bloomington-based nonprofit, launched in 1974, develops software that helps zoos and aquariums in 87 countries keep track of their animal data.

The organization has heard from people who want to sign up with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Employees have been spooked by what a company official called “nuisance-level pranks.” The large ISIS name on the front door has come down.
Now, the zoological software company is on the hunt for a new name.

Those who find their names now linked with militants known for public beheadings and attacks such as the massacres in Paris can be found across the globe, from mom-and-pops to major corporations.

In an age of social media, these firms are finding themselves in crisis mode.

“Fundamentally, it takes you away from day-to-day tasks of what you’re trying to accomplish,” said Rob Rankin, president of Minneapolis marketing agency Clarity Coverdale Fury, which is working with ISIS in Bloomington. “There’s time, energy and money that has to be diverted that just wasn’t on your radar screen. It’s important to address them and address them quickly. In many cases they just won’t go away.”

Isis Books & Gifts in Denver has been vandalized four times in recent months. Isis Equity Partners in Britain became Living Bridge. After 15 years, a French rock band changed its name from Isis Child to Angel’s Whisper after losing fans and booking engagements. In Nova Scotia, a social service organization known as Immigrant Settlement and Integration Services changed its name to ISANS — Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia.

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