When I first heard executive director and CEO David Labuskes say, “Welcome to AVIXA” during a press event to unveil the new name of InfoComm International this week, I couldn’t help but think of Alexa, the disembodied helper inside those ubiquitous Amazon Echo devices.
There’s already a parody Twitter account that clarifies for those who incorrectly believe AVIXA is a prescription drug that gives you a sudden urge to lug two claw-foot bathtubs outside with your special someone, but playfully applauds association leadership for its forward-thinking approach.
I think what’s most important here is not what the association is called, but what the brand change signifies. This is about a lot more than a new name and a fancy new logo that features a “window” in the shape of AV. It’s about emphasizing what the association and its members can and should be in the future.
AVIXA will surely upset some integrators by making the association more appealing to end users, who some believe will eventually cut the integrators themselves out of the equation and do their own AV systems integration work. To me, that seems much more likely on the residential side than commercial side, but the more end users who become AVIXA members, the more you’ll hear that criticism.
It’s going to take a lot of people a long time to get used to calling the association that was InfoComm International for 12 years AVIXA, no doubt about it. Even though Labuskes had known the name change was coming for months, he referred to AVIXA as “InfoComm” in a conversation at the reception after revealing the big news to some of the association’s council members and volunteers.
And he’s not the only one: president-elect Julian Phillips of Whitlock called AVIXA by its old name during a press Q&A session after we learned why we were called to the D.C. area shortly beforehand. When Labuskes called out Phillips for his flub, he playfully dug his way out of it with a red face and wry smile.
I learned today there are still people in the industry who still call what’s now AVIXA by the name it had before it was InfoComm International: ICIA, short for International Communications Industries Association, which was its name from 1983 to 2005.
— Tom LeBlanc (@leblanctom) September 13, 2017
The name change will be more confusing for many because AVIXA’s flagship June show will retain the InfoComm name. I think it’s only a matter of time before that changes too and the InfoComm moniker will go away in a few years, not unlike when one well-known company buys another and eventually phases out the old name when most people forget about it anyway. AVIXA officials say there’s no plan to change the shows from the InfoComm name, but they didn’t plan to change the association until a couple of years ago, either.
Maybe the InfoComm International show will change to AVIXA when it launches a four-day show?
Clearly, old habits die hard, particularly in this industry, but that doesn’t mean AVIXA should let the association stagnate and stay stuck in an old way of thinking when we’re in an era of technological revolution.
Josh Srago of TEECOM suggested a drinking game where everyone takes a swig of their favorite frosty beverage whenever someone refers to AVIXA as InfoComm. I like the idea, but what about a “swear jar” type of penalty at AVIXA HQ? I’m thinking with the money raised by charging everyone who uses the wrong name $1 (including Labuskes, Phillips, et. al.), AVIXA could collect enough money to cover the registration costs for one person to attend InfoComm 2018 in Las Vegas next June.
By the way, for those who see my take as nothing more than shilling for AVIXA, think again. I know more about name changes than you might think since I’ve been through one in some ways myself. For those who don’t know, my first name is David, but my parents always called me Craig (my middle name) from the day I was born. It’s a long story, but let’s just say my mom preferred David and dad preferred Craig.
In fifth grade, I decided to try to take my identity back and started writing “David” on my school papers. My parents asked me why I was doing this and I told them it was because that’s what they named me. I was somewhat surprised when they told me to stop because it was only causing people confusion.
So, I found a creative way to ensure David was always represented in my name by following the lead of Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and using “D. Craig” on my papers instead. My parents were fine with this for some reason, or maybe they just didn’t notice.
To this day, I have friends who refer to me as D. Craig among other creative nicknames and I always know when a doctor, bill collector or spammer is calling because they ask for David. And at least once, I’ve had to go through extra screening at the airport when a flight booked on my behalf called me Craig.
So eventually people will get used to the name AVIXA. If they don’t, maybe we should follow Dawn Meade of Gable’s advice and call it The Association and use an indecipherable symbol in print like Prince did for a few years when he was at war with his record company.
Something tells me it won’t come to that, but maybe I’ll ask someone who still calls the association NAVA, its name from 1949 to 1983.