…I’m sure I could think of a better parody given time, but… well… this result doesn’t really fill me with joy.
Actually, it wouldn’t have mattered which way the vote went – the fact that the credit union was unable to disclose the real reason for the name change (hint: it probably wasn’t just confusion) meant that the membership didn’t have enough data (in either vote) to cast an informed ballot.
While I don’t have 100% confidence that the University gave an ultimatum to the CU, I’m more confident in that cause than I am in any other. I’m pretty sure that if this cause had been disclosed initially the name Optiva would’ve been accepted more easily. In my casual perusal of online commentary I’ve found that many of the complaints about the new name reference the fact that the old name was the whole reason that they were a member in the first place. Many wanted the strong tie to the University and thought it was almost criminal to tear it away.
But what if the CU had been able to communicate that they had to disassociate themselves from UofI?
Imagine if Weber Marketing Group had been able to work with the full membership to find a way to honor their desire to feel connected to the school? Disclosing that the university was trying to protect its brand (saying, in effect “you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here”) could’ve brought a rallying cry from the membership instead of a cry of foul play.
This is not to say that a naming contest was the right way to go – but certainly offering members a chance to contribute to the identity – to make sure that the new identity at least addresses the values the membership holds most dear… that would’ve been worthwhile.
At Stokefire we’re approached occasionally by membership organizations and non-profits that wish to have their leadership team develop names without involving (or occasionally even informing) the membership until it is time to vote. While we may offer consulting support for these organizations we’ve never taken on a full naming project under these terms. (And FWiW, a good portion of our consulting effort goes towards trying to persuade the client to involve the membership and be as forthright as possible.)
This Optiva re-vote seems to validate our take, no?
Kudos to OptivEx for beginning to tell the full story, to the membership base for showing that there are consequences when an organization becomes disassociated from its membership, and yes, even to Weber for weathering the storm.
To those that find it surprising that I might not be ripping apart Weber… I find it interesting that no one has ever questioned whether the name Optiva was one of the top candidates suggested by the Weber team. Maybe that’s because not many people know what the naming process is like. I don’t have inside insight into how Weber runs their projects, but when Stokefire works with clients we present numerous candidates and make suggestions as to which are the best for various purposes. We’ve had a few clients go through the process and select a name that we think is a poor candidate (or that we didn’t develop.) The client still has every right to disclose that we were the naming expert for the project – and it isn’t likely that we would ever mention publicly that we advised against selecting a name our clients end up with. (Dissing clients – or making them look foolish – is never a good thing.) Our goal is to advise our clients as to the strongest identities available and then to do our best to support the identity choices that our clients make – even if they don’t exactly follow our advice.
A few links for you:
I have enjoyed (albeit wincingly) reading the opinions of Nicholas Johnson and see them as an example of what happens when a really smart guy who cares doesn’t get enough access to the information he needs. Today he provides an overview of the second vote and links to areas where you can find more backstory. Any CU or membership organization considering a top-down naming effort needs to read Mr. Johnson’s words before they go through with it.
I’ve also watched Michael over at Popwink as he has opined on the issue – today just summarizing the final vote and showing some snapshots of the CU’s home page before and after the vote.
The story was also picked up by the Iowa Press Citizen and what appears to be another site owned by the same folks – HawkCentral. Both sites have comments enabled and the boards are heating up quickly. My quick Google search found no other news outlets covering the vote.
Stokefire Consulting Group