Why the Answer to the Question,’What’s In a Name?’ Matters More than Ever

row of Aunt Jemima syrup

In the past year, as calls for social justice have increased, a growing number of organizations found themselves re-branding, changing their names or packaging in attempts to leave behind legacy narratives.

Aunt Jemima is Pearl Milling Company, Uncle Ben’s is known as Ben’s Original, the Washington Redskins temporarily is the Washington Football Team, Eskimo Pie is Edy’s Pie. Land O’Lakes updated its package.

And then there are those under review: Mrs. Butterworth, the Cleveland Indians and Cream of Wheat. The Cherokee Nation is requesting that Jeep rename some of its most iconic SUVs. There’s a petition in California to rename Squaw Valley.

The list goes on.

In other instances, companies needed to address their historical narratives. Disney, for example, added a warning to viewers at the front of some of its movies. The company recently widened its content warning beyond movies for “the mistreatment of people or cultures.”

“Companies that have a long-standing legacy with a rich history often need to figure out how they honor their heritage while modernizing and positioning for the future,” says Courtney Malengo, founder of Spark + Buzz Communications.

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