“Welcome to AVIXA.”
With those three words, executive director and CEO David Labuskes ushered in a new era for InfoComm International, which is changing its name to Audio Visual and Integrated Experience Association.
It’s a move that’s been in the works for almost two years, and one Labuskes believes will carry the association into the next 50 years.
“As of today, we’re something more,” Labuskes told about 20 industry journalists this morning. “This is a name that marries the tradition of what we do with what we create. It’s who we’ve been, who we are and who we hope to be.”
The AVIXA brand is the result of about two years of conversations, starting with the association’s board of directors, who asked Labuskes and others in InfoComm to consider how to revitalize the brand going forward. From there, senior VP of marketing and communications Dan Goldstein hired a brand consulting agency, Ripe, which urged InfoComm leadership to change the association’s name.
“Today we recognize AV is at the pinnacle of the user experience,” says InfoComm president Gary Hall, federal strategy, planning and operations leader at Cisco Systems. “This is where everything comes together. This marks the next milestone for this organization and allows us to deliver lasting value in our industry.”
Labuskes resisted the idea for several months, he says, so he won’t be surprised if some in the space don’t like the change. The new brand is about attracting new members and expanding the already-robust outreach AVIXA has done in attracting end users to its events, including through the TIDE Conference at InfoComm 2017.
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“There’s resistance when you do something bold,” says Labuskes. “We’re reaffirming AV with this new brand. This isn’t about leaving them behind. There’s a continued shared need to advance the industry and we have a sense of responsibility to help our members achieve greatness.”
The idea of updating InfoComm’s brand was mentioned prominently in the most recent version of the strategic plan, but the discussions started a couple of years earlier. AVIXA—chosen from about 70 possible names—isn’t the association’s first name change, by the way. It started in 1939 as the National Association of Visual Education Dealers, before merging with the Allied Non-Theatrical Film Association in 1949 and becoming the National Audio-Visual Association. NAVA changed its name to the International Communications Industries Association in 1983 and then to InfoComm International in 2005.
“It’s not a new coat of paint,” says Goldstein, who has been pushing for InfoComm International to change its brand for several years. “It’s a new value proposition.”
AVIXA’s shows will retain the InfoComm International brand, especially as several of them have achieved record attendance in the past year.
“Our shows are growing all around the world, with the right kind of people,” says Goldstein. “We’re pleased with what the show brand has brought to us and we’d be crazy to jeopardize that.”
This new brand could carry AVIXA forward for several decades, board members say.
“If we didn’t transform, we would be leaving [our current members] behind,” says board member Joe Pham, president and CEO of QSC.
Julian Phillips, AVIXA president-elect and executive VP at Whitlock, sees TIDE as “an example of reaching out to an audience that may not be otherwise aware of our association. This community isn’t just providers of technology and service. It’s also the consumers,” he says.
Labuskes knows there’s a risk to changing the brand but believes it will provide the anticipated spark.
“Our membership should grow faster than the industry is growing,” he says. “If all of this doesn’t bring in a new audience, it can’t be considered a success.”
As a brand, AVIXA has been approved since last October, says Labuskes. Officials decided not to switch it during Integrated Systems Europe because “it’s not our show” and held off on announcing it in June in Orlando out of respect for the manufacturers who bought booths there for fear of stealing all the thunder at that show, he says.
“This is absolutely about our integrators and the survival of our current members,” says Labuskes. “We evolve or we die. If you keep trying to sell what people used to buy, you don’t have a very good business model.”