The SBC Name Change

Posted in cultural relevance, southern baptist convention by Nathan Creitz on July 22, 2009

Does the SBC logo look better in color?

My two previous posts urging the Southern Baptist Convention to change its name were wildly and strangely popular. I have to say this is hardly my most passionate topic. I just think the name is irrelevant and I’ve tried to make that point and let that do it, but since there is such a response to this discussion I wanted to give a few follow up thoughts.

Campus Crusade for Christ is considering a name change.

At their annual staff conference today Steve Sellers, one of the VP’s said, “We’re willing to change anything that hinders us from the goal.” They have even hired a firm to look into changing the name. Obviously, “crusade” is a word that hinders effectiveness because it bears the connotation of THE Crusades. Does the term “Southern” hinder effectiveness? Well, it’s irrelevant and it does bear negative connotations for those of us doing ministry outside of the Bible Belt.

– Thanks @spangoo for the info.

TD Banknorth changed its name to TD Bank.

Sure, this was primarily due to a merger between TD Banknorth and Commerce Bank and the legal battles that kept them from naming it TD Commerce Bank, but notice that now that TD Banknorth has banks as far south as Florida, “north” gets dropped. They dropped “commerce” because of legal issues, but they flat out dropped “north” because it wasn’t worth keeping. There was never a scenario where they were considering keeping “north” in the name. Why do we have “southern” in our name again?

KFC was once Kentucky Fried Chicken

But, they aren’t just in Kentucky and having “fried” in the name of a chicken franchise is almost as bad as having “caged” in the name. This example really breaks down, though, because there was a change in name but there wasn’t much of a change in product. The SBC needs both. Also, simply going to the initials still left open the fact that they were kentucky and fried. For awhile they tried to get people to think that meant “Kountry Fresh Chicken” but I don’t know if that’s the official meaning of “KFC” anymore.

Many other examples

There are many other examples of companies changing their brand. Some are successful. Some are not. The SBC really needs both a new name AND a resurgence, if you will, on Great Commission endeavors. Oh right, we’ve already begun the process of a “Great Commission Resurgence”, now we just need the new name (and logo) to go with it. We need to leave the fundamentalist camp and effectively bridge the gap between the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth and the life and times of 21st century western civ.

So, what are some other companies who successfully changed their names or logos? Why did they do it? Did it help them or hinder them? What lessons can be learned for the SBC?

Related Posts:  32 Reasons (and counting) Why Southern Baptists MUST Change Their Name ::  Giving the SBC a New Name


8 Responses

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  1. Woodie said, on July 23, 2009 at 9.33 am

    Nice One! Too bad the good names are already taken like American Baptist, or the CBF.
    I think the real question is what would be the fallout in these tiny SBC Churches all around the Bible belt? I happen to pastor one of those churches and I can tell you that changing the name of the Southern Baptist Convention would cause some problems in your core areas. Just look at the 2 highest giving states, (not in percentage, but total dollars) Alabama and Georgia. I think slow and steady is the key, and bringing everyone in on the discussion. It may be more efficient for an organization to change their name to better meet their goals, but losing 40% of its funding would hinder it even more. With the SBC this would look like: less foreign missionaries, less church planting support, etc.
    While I personally support a name change I think we ought to tread carefully in this area.

  2. Stephen Bateman said, on July 23, 2009 at 10.44 am

    hey Great post. the Crusade name is really killing them because crusades have a wicked bad reputation on college campuses. People bring it up all the time!

    What if (wait for it) the SBC dropped the southern, and the convention, and the baptist. I’d argue that none of those names are helping them.

    Something like Evangelicals Association.

  3. Aaron L said, on July 23, 2009 at 7.09 pm

    Hey bud, long time! This is a greatly important conversation to be engaging in. I am currently preparing to plant a church in Lincoln, NE and had considered planting with the SBC. In the end, however, I simply could not bring myself to partner with an organization whose very name is an obstacle to its mission. Perhaps I am overreacting and I shouldn’t count out an organization because of its name alone, but then again, the people we are seeking to reach do that very thing. And as someone who is seeking to bring light into the darkness, I want to remove as many obstacles as possible for those who do not yet know Christ.

    The church I am now a part of – Mosaic in L.A. – is a great case study. They recognized this very problem about ten years ago. As you probably know, they are a SBC church with a long history. Fortunately, several years after Erwin McManus took over as the lead pastor he recognized the barrier of having ‘baptist’ in their name and changed it to ‘Mosaic.’ It was a great move. I’d sure love to see the SBC follow suit.

    Much of my history is with the EFCA and they are struggling with the same thing (but they do not recognize it). I would argue that the word ‘Evangelical’ now carries as much baggage as ‘southern’ or ‘baptist.’ I think this is a very relevant conversation for those of us who are passionate about the future of the church.

  4. Mark Webb said, on July 24, 2009 at 9.46 am

    I agree with the needed name change. Many missions and ministry organizations are changing names and logos to be more recognizable in this present day. I am a missionary with CrossWorld, which underwent a name and logo change a few years ago. The previous name was Unevangelized Fields Mission or UFM. I believe that CrossWorld is a more accepted name. I am a member of a SBC church and I would like to see the SBC make a change as well.

  5. LeaderCast said, on August 17, 2009 at 1.39 am

    I agree with what the VP of campus crusade for Christ said, that if the name hinders anyone, it should be changed. The question then is, does it hinder anyone? I honestly never would have thought much about the name had i not read this post.

  6. Joe Miller said, on August 28, 2009 at 10.57 am

    Hi, just came to your site today from Facebook’s Network blogs where my site is also listed.

    I am also a church planter dually alligned with both the SBC and Converge Worldwide (formerly BGC).

    One more name change that is directly relevant. The General Baptist Conference, just changed their them this last year to Converge Worldwide.

    This change was positive for public perception, but also for understanding their structure. Now, the convention in the Pacific Northwest was changed from something like Cascade Baptist Association to Converge Northwest. Other regions gave up their Alphabet soup of names to become something simple like Converge Southwest, Converge Northeast, etc… That is far more understandable to people new to the group.

    I think the name change is a big success, and a lesson to the SBC.

  7. Nathan Creitz said, on September 3, 2009 at 11.40 am

    Thanks for all the comments.

    I just had a thought…what if Coca-Cola was “Southern Fizzy Beverages”? What if Apple was “California Computer Company”? We need a brand, not a sentence long description. Sure it started out Southern, yeah believer’s baptism is a core belief (but is it the only one?), absolutely we have had a modernistic convention form of government. So, should we call it the “Southern-but-now-global / Baptist-Trinitarian-Inerrancy-of-the-Bible-oh-never-mind-consult-the-Baptist-Faith-&-Message / Convention-whatever-that-means”?

  8. John said, on September 7, 2009 at 2.15 pm

    Interesting. I’ve considered changing our company’s name; only because Kingdom Services often gets the question: “Are you Jehovah’s Witnesses?” We are not and really would like to avoid any connotation to the contrary. However, we feel that God gave us the name and until we hear otherwise, He would be accountable to protect it. Thanks for this post.

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