Name-Calling: When Rebranding = Renaming, PR Takes the Lead

Early this month, Matsushita Electric Industrial president Fumio Ohtsubo made a major announcement to the business world: The 88-year-old Japanese electronics manufacturer was officially leaving behind the name of its founder and adopting that of its most well-known brand, Panasonic. The announcement is part of a trend that has had resounding implications for business and communications: Brands and reputations have become increasingly critical to organizational success; fragmented corporate identities no longer resonate with audiences; company names convey more than a simple combination of words; and, if not executed flawlessly, rebranding a company with a new name can be fatal. Of course, all of these implications are intrinsically important to PR executives, who are charged with managing brands and identities--not to mention the mandatory messaging and communication about the name change that must go out to all internal and external constituents. Given the fact that rebranding via name changes can happen at any organization, from a two-person firm to a multinational company, every PR professional should know the following best practices to avoid corporate identity crises. *Conduct an identity audit.

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