The telco-owned Isis mobile wallet is trying to determine whether its brand is damaged by consumer awareness of the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, as it's commonly called by the U.S. media.
"You have undoubtedly noticed that your Isis Wallet shares a common name with the acronym of the ISIS group in Iraq/Syria," reads one question in a survey emailed this week to Isis mobile wallet users. "Does this change your likelihood to use your Isis Wallet?"
Some of the survey's other questions try to determine how big the ISIS group ranks in the consumer's overall awareness of world issues. One question asks consumers to pick the three biggest issues faced today, including diet, terrorism, illicit drugs, education, the economy, the political stalemate in Washington, health insurance, the environment, poverty, green energy, corporate greed and the divorce rate.
Other questions ask consumers their opinion of the ISIS militant group and asks how much consumers have heard about ISIS compared to other Middle Eastern organizations that the U.S. government has identified as participating in or aiding terrorism.
The survey isn't entirely about political issues. It also asks about the consumer's general impressions of the Isis mobile wallet.
The growing awareness of the ISIS militants will put pressure on the Isis wallet to make a change, says Jim Van Dyke, CEO and founder of Javelin Strategy & Research.
"I cannot imagine Isis, the industry company, will continue to use its name," Van Dyke says. "I predict the U.S.-based Isis would simply tweak its name and move on."
The mobile payment company's formal name is JVL Ventures LLC.
An representative of JVL Ventures confirmed it is using questionnaires as part of its monitoring of the crisis in the Middle East and Iraq, but would not comment further. The AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless-led Isis mobile wallet launched throughout the U.S. in late 2013. Its card-issuing partners include JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and American Express.
Other brands with ties to financial services have faced similar challenges. Kony, a company that builds mobile apps for banks, in 2012 found itself challenged after Joseph Kony, the leader of a guerilla group in Uganda, attracted international attention from human rights groups.
"It's very hard to predict the impact to a brand when something like this happens," says Rick Oglesby, a senior analyst and consultant and Double Diamond Payments Research. "It really depends on the strength of the brand and the product value proposition."
If consumers really want the product, they are likely to overlook the connotations, as many fans of the Washington Redskins do, Oglesby says.
"But if consumers are on the fence with regard to the product, then something like the Iraq connection could be enough to dissuade a consumer from signing up," Oglesby says. "When a company and its brand are new these brand impacts represent a very significant risk, which is obviously why Isis is seeking more information from their customers and prospects."