What’s in a Name?

I recently came across a company whose name sounds a lot like the name of a former employer, a certain US NGO whose slogan is Opening Minds to the World.  It has a nice ring to it and is sure to remind people of a well-known entity in Vietnam with exactly the same name.   I’m sure it’s pure concidence that this company chose this particular acronym.  😉

Yes, there is IIE Vietnam, also known as IIE Hanoi, and there is iie Vietnam, which is registered as a limited company, but it is aiming to become an appreciated social enterprise in Vietnam with the mandate of: Initiatives Support, Skills Development, Informal Education Strengthening, Self-reliance Promotion to young graduated students and most vulnerable groups such as poor peoples, lonely women, ethnics minorities groups, HIV/AIDS infected peoples and orphan children.  The full name is Vietnam Initiatives and Informal Education Promotion Company Limited.

According to the IIE Hanoi website, IIE has been active in Vietnam since 1997. The IIE Vietnam office in Hanoi administers academic admissions tests on behalf of the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and the Law School Admission Council (LSAC); and promotes and or manages scholarship and fellowship programs in the region.  The office organizes U.S. Higher Education Fairs in Vietnam, and offers a variety of services to U.S. colleges and universities that wish to establish a presence in Vietnam and Vietnamese institutions that would like to reach out to their U.S. counterparts.

What do they have in common?  Not much other than the fact that they both operate in the education sector, broadly defined.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt to ride on the coattails of an organization with a well-established track record.  While this practice of copying and taking the low road to honor by association is not unique to Vietnam, it is common.  (For example, creating a logo for a coffee shop that looks a lot like Starbucks’ or for a computer store that bears a strong resemblance to Apple’s.)  It is also becoming more problematic now that Vietnam is a member of the WTO and intellectual property rights issues are receiving more attention, legal and otherwise.  So here is my question for the week:  why not stop cutting corners, create something original, and build your brand on its own merits

Hmm, maybe I’ll found an organization called the International Institute of Education in Vietnam (IIE-Vietnam).  Catchy, huh?  I wonder if the domain name http://iie-vietnam.org is available.  (Psst:  It is…)  To echo a previous post about an “institute” with close ties to an unaccredited US school that has appropriated the Great Seal of the US Department of State:  imitation isn’t always the sincerest form of flattery.

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