A time-honoured tradition of beleaguered and reviled organisations the world over is a name change in the vain hope people will mistake them for someone else.
And so jest and more than a few jeers met the news last week that Adani Mining was changing its name to Bravus Mining and Resources.
A name is how someone picks you out of a lineup. Same with a logo. And you can change them as often as you like. But unless you also change what you do and how you do it, you’ll still land there.
Talking about its reasons, Adani Mining CEO David Boshoff said:
“We are motivated by how we feel the organisation is transitioning and for what we represent and, as you know, the Adani Mining brand has changed in the 10 years from when we started to where we are today.”
Over those 10 years, Adani has fought relentlessly to progress the controversial Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland. The proposed mine has pitted town’s community interests and political parties against each other, so I see how a new name might feel like a good idea.
Boshoff also claimed the company chose “Bravus” because it was supposedly the Latin word for brave. Apparently standing up for environmental destruction is a courageous act.
But in a twist worthy of Monty Python, the new name means “crooked”, “deformed”, “mercenary or assassin”. Hmm, perhaps the name change does better capture what the company represents…
The name-switch ploy never works. It didn’t work in 2001 when Philip Morris tried to escape its tobacco past by changing its name to Altira, and it won’t work for Adani Mining.
A name is a marker for what organisations do, and over time, it becomes part of the brand result. It’s a social capital you can trade for other things, such as customer transactions and reputation.
However, the things that build or destroy that capital come from what you do and how you do it.
Or, put in simpler terms, do bad things and you get a bad name.
If you genuinely want to show people you’ve changed, you’ve got to change more than your name.
Former Greens leader Bob Brown put it succinctly: “They need a game change, not a name change.”