What’s in a Name Change? Part I

/What’s in a Name Change? Part I

What’s in a Name Change? Part I

The majority of the world spent the last five days living their life. A small slice of the universe who make their living selling ideas, however, were agitating themselves into a frenzy.

In case you missed it, the National Speakers Association, an association of which I am a member, decided to re-brand itself and change its name to PLATFORM.

This is a first world problem. In the context of all of the turmoil in the world, the re-naming of this 41-year old association ranks right up there with … well almost nothing.

And yet, people on all sides of the argument lit up the blogosphere and social media channels supporting their positions … even if it meant refusing to consider that others might be equally right in their own stance (see my blog on “Is It Always Right to be Right” for more on that phenomenon.)

The most energized reactions came from four groups:

  1. Those who are supporters of a writer and entrepreneur named Michael Hyatt who authored an excellent book titled Platform, offers education to a similar audience, and has a logo that many contend is similar to an image displayed at the association’s convention – this group was the most vocal and saw NSA’s actions as a blatant disregard for Hyatt’s brand
  2. Those who hate the new name and see it as an unnecessary departure from the association’s rich history – this group was the second most vocal
  3. Those who are ambivalent about the name change but felt that the change process was ineffective
  4. Those who are wildly supportive of the new name and defended the association’s choice

Over the next few weeks, I’ll offer a number of insights on this re-branding effort as an on-going case study about change leadership.

In the meantime, here are two initial lessons that you can take away as you consider making a change and building a tribe of followers:

  • You own your logo. Your tribe owns your brand.

The response from Michael Hyatt’s loyal followers was immediate. They didn’t run to his defense, they strapped on rocket-powered backpacks. They took the situation personally and showed why a concerted effort to build brand ownership pays off. The benefit of this loyalty is most obvious when defending a threat, but it is also bonus when motivating people to follow you toward a compelling opportunity.

  • The more personal the change, the more vigorous the response.

 The common factor in every response to this change was its importance on a personal level to those involved.

Change that has no noticeable impact on your identity, livelihood, or sense of propriety will be met with minimal resistance or even apathy. Change that alters or attacks something you hold dear will generate a flood of emotion that occasionally borders on humorously irrational.

The lesson to be learned: People support and take action for change based on their reasons not yours. The goal of creating support is to connect to those reasons on a very personal level. The goal in overcoming resistance is to anticipate and prepare for as many of the personal reasons people will not like your change as possible. Both of those are immensely easier if you have cultivated a loyal, trusting tribe of followers.

The story continues, and there are signs that it will be resolved in the weeks ahead. But there are more lessons to be learned. Stay tuned next week as the discussion continues.