Business

What’s in a name? For the BRA, maybe not much anymore

Protesters stood outside a Philip Morris cigarette factory in Richmond, Va., in 1999. The cigarette maker changed its name in 2003 to Altria.
Steve Helber/Associated Press/File
Protesters stood outside a Philip Morris cigarette factory in Richmond, Va., in 1999. The cigarette maker changed its name in 2003 to Altria.

Sometimes, a good name is just too bad to be saved.

And that may be the case for the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

As part of an effort to rebrand the oft-maligned city development agency, its leaders are apparently considering dropping the name Boston Redevelopment Authority altogether for something with a little bit less baggage. It lists the idea among its top priorities in a request for proposals it issued this week for consultants to help with the rebranding.

Advertisement

“What is the best approach to exploring a new name for the BRA that better reflects its role and core functions,” according to the request for proposals. “What impacts would a new name have on the BRA’s affiliated organizations and programs?”

Get Talking Points in your inbox:
An afternoon recap of the day’s most important business news, delivered weekdays.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

At this point no decisions have been made, and it’s not clear whether the BRA is considering a tweak around the edges — “Develop Boston,” for instance — or something more drastic (“Growth!”).

But if the BRA goes for a full reboot, it would join a sometimes-sordid list of controversial companies that chucked a bad old name out the window.

Cigarette-maker Philip Morris famously ditched its moniker in 2003 to become the bland Altria. Discount airliner ValuJet followed up a devastating crash in 1996 by buying Airtran a year later and adopting the smaller rival’s name. And Iraq War-era defense contractor Blackwater now goes by the name Academi, after a corporate takeover and leadership change in the wake of four of its guards being charged with killing 17 civilians in Baghdad in 2007. (Blackwater was also known as Xe before becoming Academi.)

Not all name changes come in the wake of corporate — or human — tragedy. Google, for instance, last year renamed its parent company Alphabet. But the search engine has become so ubiquitous in our vocabulary that nobody actually calls it Alphabet, at least outside Silicon Valley.

Advertisement

And it remains to be seen whether an agency as ubiquitous in Boston real estate as the BRA could ever really be called anything but the BRA.

We’d guess that BRA-watchers may have a few ideas of their own, some of which might be less to the agency’s liking than whatever the new strategic advisers come up with.

Tim Logan can be reached at tim.logan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @bytimlogan.