Frequently Asked Questions


Why do we need a new name?

While our mission has stayed firmly in place since the organization's founding in 1916, our leaders have carefully considered revising the society's name for more than 30 years. In 2008, recognizing the global nature of the society, the board decided to drop "of America" and adopt the DBA (Doing Business As) "The Optical Society" while simultaneously using OSA as our acronym.  The community, new and seasoned, continued to add "America" back into our name. The abbreviation "OSA" reinforced to the community the "A" in OSA stood for America. The name has continued to perpetuate the perception that the society is a regional-based organization rather than today's global organization. 

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Optica is the name of our premier journal – won’t people be confused?

The Optica journal is highly successful and is strongly identified with our organization. This will support our work to rebrand the society as a whole. That being said, we have developed strategies to communicate the difference between the publication and the organization. We are confident we will be effective with these efforts.
 

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Why didn't changing the name to "The Optical Society (OSA)" work?

The change was a step in the right direction. Still, as our leadership envisioned the organization's future and provided recommendations on how we might best continue to evolve, they found that "The Optical Society" name remained an obstacle. The relatively slight modification to the original Optical Society of America title did not reflect the significant changes the society has experienced, nor did it provide sufficient room for its continued growth.           
                                                                                            

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Why not drop "OSA" and keep "The Optical Society"?

Despite dropping "of America" and using "The Optical Society" for over ten years in all contracts, speeches, awards, fellowships, signage, marketing materials and more, the community continues to refer to our organization as the Optical Society of America. Our rebranding as "The Optical Society" was ineffective; people continued to add "of America" in society references. The ongoing use of the Optical Society of America reflects a regional organization. It's an unnecessary aspect that continues to confuse our current and future customers.
 

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Is our legal name the "Optical Society of America?" Will we change our legal name?

The "Optical Society of America" will remain our legal name, and "Optica" will have a DBA (Doing Business As) status for the time being. At some point in the future, the members will decide whether the legal title of the organization will transition to Optica.
 

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Was keeping "OSA" and just adding a new tagline considered?  Some other organizations have taken this approach when changing their names.

Our leadership and a branding consulting group examined a wide array of taglines and naming options. They took a measured, analytical approach. Their work concluded a complete name change versus the addition of a new tagline was the best solution for our organization.
 

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Why not just use OSA with no definition?

Our experience, and the advice of branding experts, show that acronyms work best when they match the full title of an organization. Since "Optical Society of America" is no longer in use, the "OSA" initials were not a viable option.
 

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Why not use a variation of OSA that drops America, like OSI (Optical Society International)?
An extensive vetting process was conducted to gather naming opinions. The list of possibilities was methodically narrowed to a small group that was further assessed and ranked. The Optical Society International (OSI) was among those reviewed. During the legal review, we learned a descriptive name like Optical Society International would be very difficult to trademark.  Only the acronym could be trademarked. The full description of the name could not.
 

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Will we risk losing 100 years of goodwill and reputation with this change?

We value our rich history and will continue to do so. Our new name and tagline acknowledge that history, our values and who we have become. They also provide the flexibility to embrace change as our membership and field evolve.
 

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Optica sounds like the name of a corporation instead of one that a professional society would use.

While Optica is unique as a name for a society, it is memorable, strategic, relevant and works across multiple languages.  Extensive communications will support the name change, messaging, visual cues and reputational awareness to establish it as a professional society rather than a corporation. In written use, Optica will be known as the Society "Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide."

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Optica is a different type of name.  Other professional societies use abbreviations.

Back in 2008, we believed we needed to keep the acronym OSA. In doing so, we unknowingly maintained the legacy of being an "American" organization instead of reflecting the global one we are today. The result was an ineffective brand change. The research regarding our new name showed it is well liked and has positive brand recognition due to the strong reputation of our high-impact journal, Optica.  As a result, we are confident the society's new name will resonate with our members, volunteers and customers.  Optica perfectly reflects the global nature of the society and supports our mission to be the leading global forum for light science and technology.

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Are we concerned that Optica doesn't contain the word "Society" in its name?

While the word “Society” is frequently part of professional society and nonprofit names, Optica has proven through testing to be memorable, flexible and visionary in its look and feel.  It is also strategic and relevant and works across multiple languages.  To ensure the community knows we are a scientific nonprofit, we will use the term "Society" when referencing or introducing ourselves.  In written use, Optica will be known as the Society "Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide."
 

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How confident are we that this is the right name?

We underwent a rigorous process for rebranding. We knew from experience that obtaining global brand expertise was essential. Our naming experts generated more than a thousand names that fit key creative and strategic criteria. After multiple rounds, stakeholder feedback and research, we found a name that best matches our history, strategy and aspirations.
 

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Will Optica represent the application of light and photonics?

As a brand, "Optica: Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide" reflects a broader reach than "The Optical Society (OSA)." Along with its tag line, Optica connotes global, photonics, advancement, as well as optics. Both discovery and applications fit well within our new name. Optica is also more open-ended, which is an essential nod to the future of our field. 
 

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How will the name Optica engage with academia, government, and industry?

Using Optica with the tagline "Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide" signals to all current and prospective members that the society is inclusive and serves their needs. And, as the field moves into new technical and application areas, the name is flexible enough to reflect that future on a much broader scale.
 

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Why do we need "Worldwide" in the tagline?

During our market research, 93% of respondents rated the tagline "Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide" a strong strategic fit for our organization. Many cited "worldwide" as a critical component in their ranking because it clearly stated we are not just a regional organization.

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Why do we need "Optics" in the tagline?

Many respondents to our market research said the tagline—Advancing Optics and Photonics Worldwide—was a perfect description of our organization. Including both optics and photonics in the tagline encompasses the full scope of our field.

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How was the name research conducted?

We worked with a global research firm that designed and conducted the research process. The research consisted of 1) a thorough review of potential names, including market, linguistic and legal testing, 2) an electronic questionnaire to a large group of trusted community members and 3) individual in-depth interviews with a smaller group of the same community members.
 

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Who participated in the name research and why?

The research was fielded to members of our community who are currently or were previously active as volunteers with OSA, and focused on diversity and confidentiality. Both research formats used incorporated the diversity of our membership, including location, gender, professional affiliation and age.
 

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How do we know this name will help us reach our strategic goals?

Our brand strategy is focused on effectively engaging with and supporting both our current and future audiences, especially early career professionals who represent the future of the society. Research showed our new name and tagline appeal to these audiences, with 72% of those under 40 rating Optica a strong fit for our organization. In interviews, 100% of those under 40 and 100% of those living outside the U.S. were open to changing the name.
 

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What do our members in other countries think about changing our name to Optica?

Half of the respondents in our naming research lived outside the U.S. and 100% of those from outside the U.S. who were interviewed were open to changing our name. It was rated the best strategic fit by 64% of all respondents and 75% of those living outside of the U.S.
 

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Which audiences were considered in the name change?  Would industry value such a change? Would young professionals and students value the change? Would authors/researchers? 

Yes, the naming research included individuals from academia, industry, students and early career professionals. Optica ranked highly with all audiences. 
 

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How many names were validated as part of the research?

Our naming validation research included seven names and four taglines. These names and taglines were the result of a process that started with over 1,000 names. Optica was chosen by the Board of Directors "Brand Working Group" as the most apt and fitting name to propel us forward for the next 100+ years.

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How will a name change impact the programs -- Publishing, OSA Foundation, OIDA and meetings, membership, and other programs? Is there a plan to mitigate the impact?

Assuring a positive impact is among our top priorities. Our plan includes the launch of two sub-brands. The publishing program will become an official sub-brand of Optica and be re-titled Optica Publishing Group.  As a separate entity, the Foundation will transition to the Optica Foundation.  All other business units will be part of the Optica master brand.
 

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What will happen to the journals that include "OSA" as part of "America" in their name?

In honor of our legacy, the Journal of the Optical Society of America A & B will retain their existing titles.

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Can someone take "The Optical Society (OSA) in the future?

The organization will protect the trademark by maintaining the usage of OSA with its two journals—Journal of the Optical Society of America A and B—and by continuing to contest all unauthorized uses of the name. However, as the new brand takes hold internationally, usage of the former name by other entities will have minimal impact on the organization's new identity and the new name being embraced by our community.  Additionally, independent local sections and student chapters already use "Optical Society of X (local name)." 

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