4 Brands That Got A Bad Name Because Of Negative Associations

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Every brand has a public image to maintain its reputation and consumer base. However, brands like ISIS and Toyota can sometimes find themselves in the muck when situations change or new doppelgangers with bad intentions take over their identity. History is witness to many such cases. Here are some prominent ones.


A popular goddess in Egyptian mythology, ISIS makes for a popular brand name. However, it has gained notoriety due to the rise of the terrorist organisation, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which also shortens to ISIS. Several companies sharing the same name have had to rename themselves.

  • ISIS Pharma: The major pharma firm changed its name to Ionis Pharma in December 2015.
  • ISIS Chocolates: A Belgian chocolate maker had to change its name to Libeert.
  • ISIS Mag: A London-based hair and beauty magazine has been forced to change their logo so the word “Mag” is more prominent.
  • ISIS app: A wireless payment application has announced that it will be changing its name soon.


Speaking of ISIS, the organisation is also taking on social media and has created a world presence like no other terrorist organisation. This means that most of us have seen images and footage circulated by the Islamic State and the first image that comes to mind it a militant dressed in all black, holding a gun and probably riding a Toyota pick-up truck. This image became so popular that people began wondering if the automobile giant was actually supplying their vehicles to the terrorist organisation so much so that the US.. government even ordered an enquiry against the Japanese carmaker on suspected linkages with the dreaded outfit. However, the company has cooperated with the enquiry, denying any wrongdoing.

Fun fact: Toyota has a minivan model that has been in production since 2004 and it’s called the Toyota Isis!


Tata Motors was about to launch its new car, Zica in the Indian market. But alas! The outbreak of the Zika virus took over the headlines as the cases of infections increased in Brazil and other South American countries. Now, when you hear the word ‘Zica’, the first thing you think about is babies with microcephaly and mosquito bites, not a car. Therefore, Tata Motors had to quickly go into the damage control mode. It has since come up with a contest asking public to suggest a new name for their upcoming car.


The SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic created worldwide panic in 2003, with the infection being most intense in Southeast Asia. An unlikely victim of this disease was however a namesake soft-drink brand in Taiwan. The brand was negatively impacted as more people became aware of the SARS epidemic. The company changed the product name to Hey Song Sarsaparilla, which allowed it to escape the negative connotations. Today, the soft drink is still very popular in Taiwan. Ironically, many believe that it lowers body temperatures and prevents sore throats and other ailments.

There are many brands that attracted negative publicity because they really were associated with bad things. In the 90s, London based diamond company De Beers was allegedly involved in buying raw diamonds from militants in civil war ravaged Angola and Sierra Leone. IBM, now a prominent technology corporation, did business with the Nazis during the Holocaust. On the other hand, brands like Toyota and companies named ISIS have earned bad reputations through no fault of their own. While some have bounced back, the popularity of some others becomes inversely proportionate to their ‘evil twins’.

4 Brands That Got A Bad Name Because Of Negative Associations was last modified: by
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