Names go a long way when it comes to making first impressions, and one Washington Jewish organization has decided it is time for a change.
Gather the Jews, a group for Jews in their 20s and 30s, announced it would rebrand itself as “GatherDC.”
The 7-year-old group’s mission to facilitate Jewish life in Washington by providing information about Jewish social, religious and learning opportunities remains unchanged, said Director Rachel Gildiner.
The group began evaluating its effectiveness in May, she said. The evaluation, by an outside marketing firm, showed the name was harming newcomers’ first impressions.
“‘Gather the Jews’ has a lot of possible connotations,” said Gildiner. “As an outsider who has no idea what this is, and they hear ‘Gather The Jews,’ — that can recall negative connotations of being Jewish or our history.”
Gildiner cut off a question about whether the name could recall the Holocaust years when Jews were rounded up; she said she didn’t want to use that word in the interview.
Another finding is that people primarily find out about Gather the Jews through word of mouth.
That’s bad news because “we had feedback that people are a little embarrassed to say our name. Those two things can’t coexist if we want to do good work in the city,” said Gildiner.
The new name “GatherDC” does not wander far from the organization’s old brand, which was often referred to as “Gather” by its members. The group chose its new name to pay homage to the city it serves, Gildiner said.
Despite dropping the word “Jews” from its name, Gildiner believes GatherDC’s branding — website, slogan, logo — will distinguish it as a Jewish organization. The group will unveil its new branding at a launch party on Jan. 30.
Gather the Jews is one of several organizations to rebrand in the last few years.
The Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia began referring to itself as “The J’ in branded materials after the umbrella Jewish Community Center Association unveiled new branding guidelines.
“By saying we are the ‘J’, we’re distilling ourselves to the most elemental aspect of our organization — which is our Jewishness,” said JCCNV executive director Jeff Dannick.
The Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center and the Bender Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington in Rockville were both rebranded to include the names of their major donors. The Bender JCC uses a “J” in its branded materials. n
GatherDC will host its launch party at Co Co. Sala, a chocolate boutique and restaurant in Washington, on Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. For reservations, go to gatherthejews.com