When rebranding makes sense: Why one association changed its name

A mobile carrier organization changes its name to the Competitive Carriers Association in an effort to hold its own against Verizon and AT&T.

What happens when a change in your industry changes your focus? Perhaps it’s time to rebrand.

That’s what the Competitive Carriers Association is doing as it sheds its former name, the Rural Cellular Association, in an effort to help its members build a stronger foothold in the mobile market. What inspired the name change? An effort to fight consolidation.

They recognized that unless they took aggressive action, they were not going to be able to survive.

“Over the past several years, the wireless industry has seen increased consolidation and the emergence of a market duopoly. In light of the duopoly and the threat of further industry consolidation, our members – both large and small – all share a common goal,” said Steven K. Berry, the organization’s president and CEO, in a press release.

The group’s members face many challenges in its market. In late 2011, industry group CTIA reported 331.6 million wireless subscriber connections. But roughly 305 million of those connections use one of the the four largest mobile carriers — Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile — with Verizon and AT&T each accounting for more than 100 million users.

In 2011, the association, which represents over 100 carriers, helped fight a dynamic-changing industry shake-up, when AT&T and T-Mobile considered merging. In the end, the move didn’t pass regulatory scrutiny and cost AT&T billions. But the merger convinced the group they had to change their approach.

Speaking to CNET’s Marguerite Reardon, Berry said that the spectre of the merger convinced Sprint to join the group, which changed its focus to a degree. “They recognized that unless they took aggressive action,” he said, “they were not going to be able to survive.”

As business circumstances change, when does it become important for an association to change focus? And at what point does the name become a key element of that change? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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