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Jenny Levine (staff)'s picture

Should we keep the name "ALA Connect?"

I've heard the suggestion that we should change the name of the site from "ALA Connect" to something else. I'm curious to hear everyone's thoughts on this because if the majority feels this is a good idea, we'd have to get started on a new name, logo, and marketing plan right away.

On the one hand, I can see getting away from the baggage the current name has (we deliberately renamed the old "event planner" to the "conference scheduler" for this reason), but I'm not sure how we'll explain the new site other than "ALA Connect but better," which to my mind doesn't justify spending so many resources on new materials and a whole new education campaign.

But I really want to hear from all of you - change the name or keep it?

Kara OKeefe (staff)'s picture

Personally, I think a name change would be a great idea. It's hard to launch something meant to be new and exciting (and improve adoption/engagement) without branding it that way. I see this as an opportunity to add value and with clear communication, we should be able to avoid any confusion as to where the "old ALA Connect" went. Just my two cents! 

Kristin Pekoll-IL (staff)'s picture

I see the benefits of both options. If we do change, I hope that the name remains concrete and obvious to what the purpose is and we don't choose something obscure and trendy. 

John Jackson's picture

I agree that a name change would be a good idea. At Annual, the leadership council of ACRL seemed excited at the prospect of an overhaul of Connect and a name change would help separate old experiences from new ones. 

ALA Connect, unfortunately, is a great name so I'm at a loss for suggestions. ALASpace? ALAster? ALAbook? I'm kidding of course. ;-) ALA Hub?


John M. Jackson

Keri Cascio-IL (staff)'s picture

I'm in the camp of keeping the name. We've spent a lot of time, effort, and marketing for ALA Connect that I would hate to lose. It's just a new interface.

I know there is some baggage with the current name in some circles, but this is a chance for people to take a new look at an existing community that works well for many.

Kerri Price (staff)'s picture

I lean towards keeping the name, both for practical, financial reasons and also because - as Keri pointed out - it's simply a new (and improved) interface, rather than a new product. I new name might even cause a bit of confusion.

Dan Bostrom (staff)'s picture

I'm pretty split between the idea of changing the name and keeping it the same. I agree with a lot what has already been said; these are tough decisions and have financial implications. Perhaps some more information could help make this an easier decision. Just off the top of my head I had a few questions that might help:

  • When did ALA Connect become ALA Connect? 
  • How much marketing/brand investment was put into the ALA Connect name/image in the first place? 
  • What is the current perception of ALA Connect among membership?
  • What opportunities would we expect to gain from a new name/brand (more members? more participation)?
Jenny Levine (staff)'s picture

  • When did ALA Connect become ALA Connect? 
    Jenny: I named it ALA Connect in 2008. The first iteration ALA implemented before I was on staff was "Online Communities." When you look at the roadmap for what we envisioned the new site to do, it was clear it was more than just "Online Communities," so I came up with the name and tested it with both members and staff, who liked it.
  • How much marketing/brand investment was put into the ALA Connect name/image in the first place? 
    Jenny: Connect has never had a budget specifically for branding or marketing, other than the initial $10,000 we had to design the first interface. Because that's not a lot of money to design a completely new interface, we used the company that did the ala.org redesign in 2007-08 since they already knew ALA. There's never been a marketing budget, either, so I was lucky enough to get a group of 2009 Emerging Leaders to help with this. The incredibly talented Jason Kucsma designed a bunch of marketing materials, and the group did some promotion and tutorial videos (which you can still see in the help community at http://connect.ala.org/help?gh=9427). I did general staff and member training, met with each unit, and did onsite presentations at conferences for any group that requested it. That lasted through about 2010. The problem at this point is that we have the same budget figure for design and graphics of the Higher Logic site, minus the initial $10,000 and the EL group.
  • What is the current perception of ALA Connect among membership?
    Jenny: This is difficult to say, but you can get some raw data in the survey we did last year (found in the Background Documents folder in this group). As I've noted before, I think the easy-to-read charts are a bit misleading because the comments express different attitudes. To my knowledge, no one else has ever gone through that data to derive more meaning from the responses. I mostly used it to inform the third redesign and the features we'd want in a new system. Like all things ALA, the data shows that there is a group of people who love Connect, a group that hates it, and another one that doesn't know what it is.
  • What opportunities would we expect to gain from a new name/brand (more members? more participation)?
    Jenny: Good question! This is why I wanted this to be a group decision, rather than a unilateral one that I make on my own.


Julianna Kloeppel (staff)'s picture

I would keep it. It's a nice, simple name.

ALAspace and ALAster made me panic, John!

eLearning Specialist
Kara OKeefe (staff)'s picture

Even if we decide against a name change, I hope serious consideration is put into updating the overall look and feel. This launch has the potential to attract new users and improve member engagement. If it looks exactly like the old ALA Connect, we can toss excitement out the window. We can still re-brand the community without losing the name. Although my membership advisory group is a small sample size of ALA, they have voiced their lack of enthusiasm in the current platform and its UX/UI. Their hope was also to see something new and exiting for the community. Again, many things to consider here and there will certainly be risks to weigh regardless!

Jennifer Habley (staff)'s picture

I'm in favor of a changing the name. Like Jenny mentioned, there's some baggage and I'm afraid that we'd meet some resistance in engaging members in a new site if it remains Connect.

Steven Hofmann (staff)'s picture

It seems to me that if the new ALA Connect has the same functionality and is intended to be used for the same purposes as the old ALA Connect, and it's just the interface (and underlying platform) that's changed, then it's still ALA Connect. But if significant functionality has been added and new purposes are intended, then a rebranding would seem to be in order.

(I'm not an official member of this group, so feel free to treat my comments accordingly.)

Steven Hofmann
Manager, Web Communications
Public Library Association
312-280-5047 | 800-545-2433 x5047 | www.pla.orgwww.placonference.org

Dan Bostrom (staff)'s picture

Jenny, thank you so much for the extra information. Very helpful. I agree with a few others above that even if there isn't a name change, we need some coordinated promotion and engagement behind the notion that this is an improved product. 

Jenny Levine (staff)'s picture

I agree that we need a dedicated marketing and education campaign, regardless of the name. However, I have to be honest that with my new job, I can't lead that effort. I was planning to broach the topic of subgroups, so I'll start a separate thread for that.

I know a lot of folks are on vacation this month, but I'm hoping everyone will weigh in about the name at some point, because we probably need to make a final decision by the first week in September so we don't have a lot of time.

Lisa Lindle (staff)'s picture

I would vote to keep the name, but possibly update the logo. Rolling out new branding along with the new interface, but keeping the name, will let users know we've got something shiny for them to check out, without adding confusion as to what exactly that something is.

Jenny Levine (staff)'s picture

Any further thoughts about the name (especially from anyone who was on vacation last week)? If we're changing the name (which I'm thinking we'll need an official vote to do given the split of opinions so far), we'll need a new one for the poll.

Higher Logic has collected a lot of data from its clients, and they provided the following list of names based on that data:

  • ALA Connection
  • ALA Collaborate
  • ALA Member Bridge
  • ALA Member Connect
  • ALA Network
  • ALA Passport
  • ALA Forum
  • ALA Community
  • ALA Exchange
  • ALA Knowledge Communities
  • ALA ShareBoard
  • ALA KnowledgeNet
  • ALA Peer Groups
  • ALA Circle
  • ALA Neighborhood
  • ALA Collective
  • ALA Member LinkUp
  • ALA Community Net
  • ALA Link
  • ALA Hive
Allison Payne-IL (staff)'s picture

Hi Jenny,

Do you know when the vote might take place? Personally, I'm undecided on the name change and I'd like to check-in with ACRL staff and maybe our membership committee to see what they think.


Jenny Levine (staff)'s picture

Hi, Allison –

The vote won’t happen until September, and we’re actually going to try to meet in early September to talk through a couple of issues in person. It’s all a bit
of a moot point if no one comes up with an alternative name, so I hope everyone is spending some time thinking of one. We’re all representing different constituencies, so I also hope we’re all getting feedback from those folks as we make decisions.

I’ll be in touch about the meeting when we’re all back in the office.