DEPARTMENTS
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LETTERS
Refreshing the Brand
In announcing the candidates for AIHA offices in the February 2020 Synergist, the following question was posed: “As you may have heard, AIHA has embarked on a multi-year Brand Refresh Initiative. To this end, in your opinion, how could AIHA more effectively promote the value of the profession to external stakeholders ‘not like ourselves’? Such audiences include but are not limited to: secondary school students, college STEM students, guidance counselors, business C suite, EHS management, HR and recruiters, military veterans and labor unions.”

I was disappointed, but not surprised, that none of the candidates responded, “It’s the name, stupid.” Only Maharshi Mehta even broached the subject—good for him! The thrust of the question was how to reach people outside of our profession. To that extent, to put it in marketing parlance, the name of the product has to attract the customer. I don’t think I am the only one who thinks the term “industrial hygiene” is unattractive to those outside of our profession. Said another way, AIHA is futilely trying to refresh a bad brand name. Interestingly, before I even saw the February Synergist, I submitted an article to another publication titled “Industrial Hygiene—Not a Term of Endearment,” whose thrust is responsive to the Brand Refresh Initiative. My purpose is not to denigrate a profession that is honorable and essential and has been very good to me personally and professionally, but to restart an initiative to the value a name change would bring to this wonderful profession. It is not too late. R. D. Fulwiler, PhD, CIH, FAIHA President, Transformational Leadership Associates Instructor, Harvard School of Public Health
Simply calling the association "AIHA" gives us the chance to shift industry perceptions with the other crucial tools in the elements of a brand: positioning, messaging, and visual identity.
The opinions expressed in letters to the editor are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of AIHA® or The Synergist®. Letters are published at the discretion of the editor and may be edited for clarity. Send letters to The Synergist.
AIHA RESPONDS: Thanks to R. D. Fulwiler for his timely, thoughtful letter. Even though the words “industrial hygiene” may be outmoded and not inclusive of the breadth of the profession today, market research AIHA has conducted in the last three years told us that a complete rename would require resources, change management, and investment dollars well beyond our current plan. Also, as provocative and paradigm-shifting as a completely new name might be, we don't want to risk the potential of alienating or losing members.  In the April Synergist, AIHA President Kathy Murphy explained that AIHA is embracing the term “occupational health and safety.” One implication of this change is that we will be changing our official name to our acronym, AIHA. By publicly keeping the name “AIHA” and just dropping off what the acronym stood for (American Industrial Hygiene Association), we allow the association and, therefore, the profession to modernize while giving a respectful nod to its strong history. Simply calling the association "AIHA" gives us the chance to shift industry perceptions with the other crucial tools in the elements of a brand: positioning, messaging, and visual identity. This allows AIHA to retain the positive aspects of the association's strong equity.  AIHA will be embarking on something even mightier than the impact a name change could have: a public awareness campaign to promote the value of the association and profession.  We will be reporting more about the evolution of AIHA and the profession over the coming months. Larry Sloan, CAE AIHA CEO