Government contractors aren’t known for interesting names, often relying on initials or run-of-the-mill terms, like “technology” or “solutions,” to describe what they do. But a crop of companies is changing monikers and shunning the acronym in favor of new words.
Add Silver Spring-based ITSolutions to the list, which this week plans to announce its new brand of Acentia, a word created from “ascend” and “essential.”
The rebranding effort is intended to help unite a company that has acquired four others since it was founded in 2001. It picked up two late last year: Laurel-based Peace Technology and the IT services business of Rockville-based NetStar-1 .
ITSolutions solicited suggestions from employees and customers, said Todd Stottlemyer, a contracting veteran who took over as the company’s chief executive early this year.
The management team settled on Acentia, and the company unveiled the name and logo to its employees by renting out Nationals Park last week.
“We did not want our name to be an acronym,” Stottlemyer said. “We don’t want to be like everybody else.”
The company is not alone in changing its name and logo. The Tysons Corner-based ITT defense business, now being spun off from the larger ITT business, announced this month it will use the name ITT Exelis. Eventually, the company will jettison ITT — which it is licensing — to simply be known as Exelis.
The company said the name is derived from the word “excel” and exemplifies its commitment to anticipating and finding solutions to its customers’ problems.
After McLean-based Global Defense Technology & Systems, which was more commonly known as GTEC, was bought by an affiliate of the private-equity firm Ares Management earlier this year, the company rebranded as Sotera Defense Solutions.
Sotera was derived from Greek mythology and meant to represent the spirit of safety, preservation and deliverance from harm, according to the company.
John Hillen, Sotera’s president and chief executive, said the government is relatively accustomed to name changes because contractors frequently merge or make acquisitions.
“On the services side of the business, as long as they’re seeing the same people, a lot of customers [are] pretty ambivalent about what the name is,” he said.
Still, Hillen said the name matters, providing an opportunity to share a company’s values with the government and to motivate employees.
For ITSolutions, now Acentia, the brand change reflects more than just a name. Stottlemyer said the company is making big changes, including adding two new board members and planning an aggressive acquisition strategy.
“I think brand really does matter in the marketplace,” said Stottlemyer. The change is “a great opportunity to tell the story about who we are.”