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As companies evolved, rebranding called for name changes

Two area companies that outgrew their original corporate missions retired their corporate names this week in favor of fresh brands they hope better reflect their new, broader goals.

UTEK Corp., founded in 1997 by a University of South Florida professor and now based in Ybor City, bid adios to its old name (short for "university technology") in favor of the new corporate brand Innovaro.

In Oldsmar, Network Liqui­dators, a business that's evolved beyond the downscale "liquidation" image of buying and reselling used equipment, has opted for the name Vology Data Systems.

Now, name changes are funny things and can mean very different things to different people. One might argue, tongue partly in cheek, that Innovaro sounds more like a sleek Italian sports car than an intellectual property licensing business.

Vology must not be confused with the similar-sounding Knology cable TV firm around here. And we shouldn't be led astray by the combination of "Vol" and "ology" — suggesting the study of Vols, as in the Volunteers at the University of Tennessee.

In interviews, the chief executives at both companies explained that the new corporate names let them update brand images that reflect their latest corporate directions. The new names also do away with old stereotypes associated with their former monikers.

Doug Schaedler, UTEK president named CEO a few months ago, says Innovaro conjures up an image of "innovation" and will fit well with the company's new pursuit of providing intellectual property and product ideas to Fortune 500 clients.

The new name also simplifies what was UTEK's laundry list of variously named divisions and affiliates that had accumulated through acquisitions.

Schaedler brought in Terresa Zimmerman as marketing vice president to help rebrand. UTEK found the name Innovaro among its own stable of businesses acquired over the years, which made adopting it easier and less expensive than conjuring a new name from scratch.

At Network Liquidators, CEO Barry Shevlin said people were starting to scratch their heads over the old, outdated name. The company now sells refurbished telecommunications, like Cisco routers, to an increasingly mainstream customer base.

Shevlin turned to the Tampa branding and advertising firm Schifino Lee to assist in finding a new name. Branding firm executive Ben Lee said a creative team sought feedback from Shevlin as to where his telecommunications products company was heading, then explored thousands of potential names.

Vology emerged, Lee said, crediting company creative exec Eric Leventhal for the name, as a word that suggests both velocity and technology. Those are two key traits Shevlin wanted a new name to reinforce.

"The ease of spelling Vology and its pronunciation: Once people get used to it, it will be quite recognizable," Lee said.

Finding new names — and compatible Web site addresses —is getting tougher as more word combinations are patented. Just ask the creators of names like Innovaro or Vology or Verizon or Altria or eBay.

Contact Robert Trigaux at trigaux@sptimes.com. Read his daily blog at blogs.tampabay.com/venture.

fast facts

On the Web

Innovaro:

www.innovaro.com

Vology Data Systems: www.vds.com

As companies evolved, rebranding called for name changes 03/17/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 10:09pm]
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