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Mass. businesses named ‘Isis’ debate changing names

Back nine years ago, Maggie Rose March decided to name her property management company Isis, a tribute to an Egyptian goddess revered for her benevolence. Much as Isis the deity provided protection, March hoped clients would view her company as a source of security.

But all of that changed with the rise of the militant group known as ISIS. So March is adopting a new name for her Belmont company.

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“For me, Isis originally had a good connotation,” said March, one of three owners of the former Isis Property Management Inc. “But then I recently got a call asking if I had any affiliation to people in the Middle East.

“That’s when I knew we needed to change our name,” she said.

ISIS, which stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, began to draw international attention in June as a dangerous jihadist group in the Middle East, and was responsible for the beheading of James Foley, the New Hampshire journalist captured while covering strife in Syria.

The terrorist group is also known by other acronyms, including ISIL.

March said she and the other owners decided to adopt a considerably blander name for their company, S J & M Property Management Inc., combining the initials of the first names of the three owners.

Although rebranding a company can be a lengthy and costly process, Rose said that in this instance, it was simply “the cost of staying in business.”

“Isis the goddess had her moment before ISIS came about in the Middle East,” March said.

Peter Hodges, president of Isis Financial Systems, a privately owned Waltham wealth management service, said he will be making changes to his company’s logo. His company was already in the middle of revamping its logo in June, he said.

“When people started making comments . . . we decided we should definitely change it,” Hodges said.

Isis Financial Systems plans to change its logo to “IsisFS,” to emphasize the “Financial Systems” aspect of the name, and downplay the “Isis” part, Hodges said.

Although the “Isis” part of the logo seems destined to still capture the attention of people, Hodges said he doesn’t want to change the company’s name entirely.

“I am hoping [ISIS] will just change their name,” Hodges said.

Trisha Thadani can be reached at
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