For instance, Accenture was originally Arthur Anderson, and Pepsi Cola began as “Brad’s Drink.” These brands might not have grown as popular as they are today if they had stuck with their first title.
The best names can either deliver new opportunities to your company or get doors slammed in your face. It’s up to you to figure out what works best for your business – and sometimes, that can mean making a change.
So, how exactly do you change a business name?
What steps can you take to ensure that you don’t make any legal errors, and reduce your chances of upsetting your customers?
Let’s find out.
Changing business names isn’t easy.
A strong business name identifies your organisation and tells your customers something crucial about your brand. To make sure that your name change works, you’re going to need a plan.
Before you rush out to change your business name with Companies House, the first thing you’ll need to do is make sure that you have a valid reason for the update. Some of the best reasons to adjust your title include:
- You’ve discovered an issue with a pre-registered trademark or copyright on your name.
- Your company has changed on a fundamental level, and your name no longer suits your brand.
- You’ve bought a business with someone else’s name attached to it.
- Your name is confusing your audience and reducing your ability to make sales.
- You’ve found a better title that resonates with your customers and employees.
Once you’ve got a good reason for changing your business name, make sure that you:
There are various hurdles involved in learning how to change your business name. As you continue with the process, you’ll discover that the time required with adopting a new brand is only one of the costs involved. You’ll also need to pay to file the appropriate documents with the regulatory bodies in your country. Aside from legal fees, you’ll also need to pay:
- The cost of your new moniker.
- The fee of changing all your legal documents and contracts.
- The price of updates to your marketing materials.
- The cost of updating your website.
- Any additional branding and communication fees.
Make sure that you know what you need to budget for in advance, so you don’t get any nasty surprises when changing your business name.
When you change your business name, it’s going to cost you a lot of time and money. The last thing you want is to have to start from scratch because you didn’t do enough research before getting started. Before doing anything, check the availability of your title. Ensure that it hasn’t already been trademarked, and make sure that you can get a .com domain. All names from Naimeo come with a .com domain included, to reduce your risk.
Next, talk to your attorney or tax professional about your name change, so you know of any potential legal issues that you may need to overcome. If you’re a limited company or partnership, you’ll have specific forms to fill out.
Finally, make sure that you don’t start changing your business name until you’re sure that your new title works for your brand. A business name is a memorable extension of your brand essence, with that in mind, ensure that your new pick:
- Reflects your unique value proposition.
- Provides an insight into your personality.
- Gives you a unique point of differentiation.
Take your time here. Browse through plenty of different titles and create a list of all the ones that appeal to you. Remember, it may be helpful to get input from different people in your team too so that you can see how people would respond to your new name.
Another thing to remember when you start changing business names is that the process has its good and bad points. Although there are plenty of positive reasons to improve a business name, it’s not going to be an easy process. A realistic attitude will help you to prepare.
For instance, let’s look at some of the “pros” of changing your name:
- You ensure your title aligns with your brand: When you’re first launching a company, it can be challenging to predict the kind of venture you’re going to build. The more your company evolves, the more you get to know your audience, your marketplace, and more. This means that you can be more strategic with your branding. A great new title can resonate with your audience much better than an old generic name.
- You can differentiate your business: If you discover that your title is too close to something that already exists in your industry, then you could have serious trademark issues to consider. Not only are their legal repercussions, but it’s hard to stand out when you look too much like another business. A new name will help you to be unique.
- You’ll be able to target new demographics: As you conduct ongoing research into your target audience and marketplace, you’ll find out what kind of language people respond best to. Adjusting your name may even help you to reach new customers that you would never have been able to connect with before.
There are reasons to adjust your brand identity from time-to-time. However, because a business name makes up such a significant part of your presence as a growing company, changing it can mean that you need to earn the trust of your audience all over again. The cons of changing a business name include:
- Confused customers: It takes time to build a reputation and gain recognition for your name. Suddenly switching your title for something new could confuse your target audience and undo some of the progress you’ve made with your clients.
- Expensive process: It’s easy to underestimate how much money and time needs to go into the average rebrand. Aside from administrative and legal costs to consider, you’ll also need to update everything that you used your old business name on, including your website, business cards, email address, and more.
- Extensive research: Creating a new name also means finding a fantastic moniker that you can rely on to deliver better results for your business in the future. This can be an incredibly tricky process – unless you have the support of a specialist naming company like Naimeo to simplify things for you.
If you’ve carefully considered the pros and cons of changing a business name, and you’ve decided that an update is in your best interests, there’s a lot to do.
From ensuring you’re making the right choice creativity-wise, to preparing your legal documentation and updating your branding, make sure that you’re ready for the task ahead. Here’s how to change your business name, one step at a time.
Learning how to change a business name isn’t that different to figuring out how to choose your first moniker. You’ll need to ensure that you’re selecting a title that’s not only reflective of the kind of brand you want to build but brimming with all the features that make a word memorable.
For instance, ask yourself:
- Is your name short, sweet, and easy to remember? Make sure that it’s easy to pronounce and spell so that people can find your business easily through Google, or even apps like Alexa and Siri.
- Is it too general or generic? A generic name is complicated to trademark. On top of that, you’ll have a hard time conveying your personality through something too vague.
- Does the title make sense for your brand? How will it make people feel when they see or hear your name? Does that reflect the kind of business you want to build?
- Is the name to narrow? Does it include any geographical terms or specific references that would make it difficult for your business to grow?
Next, get online and make sure that your name will differentiate your brand. This means not only ensuring that there aren’t any existing trademarks out there but making sure that you’re not creating something that sounds too similar to what’s available elsewhere.
Don’t just take advantage of a current trend by altering what someone else has already done in your industry. Find the title that will speak to your customers.
- Are there any existing trademarks out there?
- Could someone confuse my title with someone else’s?
- What does this name say about my business – does it highlight my USP?
- Is my new name available to trademark, or is it too generic?
- How does this name tell my story and speak to my audience?
- Will this name translate well into different countries?
- Do I understand what certain words mean in my name?
Once you’ve done the appropriate research and you’re sure about your new title, you can ask your accountant or lawyer to guide you towards the right application for your needs. Changing a business name can be a slightly different process depending on the structure of your company.
Remember, before you begin filling out any forms, it’s a good idea to ensure that all of your stakeholders and valuable employees know about your decision to change your name. Having buy-in from all the people in your organisation will increase your chances of a smooth and streamlined rebranding process.
If and when your request for a new business name gets approval, your job isn’t over.
The more you learn about how to change a business name, the more you’ll realise how extensive this process can be. Once you’ve had your new name approved, you’ll need to start updating everything you own that has your old title on it. This includes:
- Business cards and stationery.
- Website and social media pages.
- Marketing campaigns.
- Videos and infographics.
- Signage and wayfinding.
- Email addresses and newsletters.
You’ll need to think carefully about how you’re going to manage the business name change. Sometimes, updating your branding doesn’t just mean changing the title that appears on your promotional materials. You might also need to ask yourself whether your new title requires a change in personality for your brand’s tone of voice.
For instance, the name “Banki” for an investment company portrays a very different kind of company than “Lloyd and Farman Ltd.” Every aspect of your brand may be impacted from start to finish. Before you begin changing your business name, make sure that you have this brand update checklist on-hand:
- Do you have the domain name required for your company name?
- Do you have the domain extensions you want, including .com and anything else relevant to your business?
- Are the matching social media usernames and tags available for your company?
- Have you updated your printed materials for events, offline stores, packaging, newsletters, direct mail, business cards, and leaflets?
- Are you ready to change your business décor in any brick and mortar locations you may have?
- When you change your business name, will you need to update other aspects of your brand too, such as your tone of voice or online personality? What about your tagline, strapline, or slogan?
- Will you need to change your logo? Do you have a graphic artist you can rely on to do this?
- What will your change of name mean to your visual presence? Are your old graphics and colour choices still relevant for your new name?
- Do you need to change your contact information, including your social media handles, business listing site details, and email addresses?
Remember, changing a business name may also mean reaching out to other organisations and companies to ask them for updates. For instance, if you’re listed as part of any community forums in your industry, or your brand appears on listing or review sites, you’ll need to request a change.
Once your promotional and branding tools are updated, you may also want to “relaunch” your company online, investing in new marketing materials to drive more eyes towards your company and help existing customers get to know your organisation.
At this point, it’s probably clear to see that changing your business name isn’t easy.
Before you even think about things like the Companies House and legal request, you’ll need to carefully consider what a name change means to your brand and your future. There’s a lot of work involved if you want to take advantage of your new name and reduce your risk of losing existing customers when you make the change.
While preparing to launch a new moniker is a complicated process, most companies find that applying for their business name is the most challenging part of the process. When you change your business name in the UK, you’ll need to file a request with the Companies House.
This means referring to the articles of association in a shareholder’s agreement or any partnership documents that you have in place. If you have shareholders or guarantors connected to your company, then you’ll need to ask them for permission to change your business name before you get started.
In some companies, however, where you own the vast majority of your business, you’ll have the power to change a name without member approval. If this is the case, then you’ll need to fill out form NM04 to notify the Companies House of your request to change your name. Companies House will check to ensure that the title you’re asking for hasn’t already been trademarked. However, you will be required to do this due diligence yourself too.
If your business is an LLP, then you’ll need to get approval from all the members of the LLP, then file form LLNM01 to apply for a change of name. Like the director-only application, there will be a fee for changing your title, although it’s usually only £8 (at the time of publication).
To improve your chances of being able to change a business name successfully:
- Ask an attorney or tax professional for guidance on how to change the name of your business. They will have helped other companies to do this in the past and can provide plenty of useful information.
- Make sure that your new company name is available and doesn’t have any prior trademarks attached to it. You can check the availability of any business name on the web check facility on the Companies House website.
- Make sure your proposed name doesn’t include any of the sensitive words listed by the Companies House. If it does use any of these words, then you’ll need to provide supporting information for your application.
Once you change your business name and gain approval from Companies House, you’ll receive a certificate that says your moniker has been updated. This document will be provided either online or sent to you by post. Importantly, this document doesn’t replace your certificate of incorporation. Instead, it confirms that your company name is changing, and the date that your new title will begin being applied to your company. You’ll need to keep this certificate at your registered office address.
Changing a business name isn’t a simple feat.
Not only does learning how to change your business name takes a lot of time and effort, but there are several hoops you’ll need to jump through to make sure that you don’t make mistakes along the way. Your stationery, emails and company signage have to be updated within 14 days of your name change – which places extra pressure on your business.
Additionally, you’ll need to make sure that you’ve updated your business bank account details, leases, loans, and other information with your new title too.
Of course, just because figuring out how to change a business name effectively is tough, doesn’t mean that it’s not worth the effort. If your existing name just isn’t working for your brand, then it doesn’t make sense to keep using it just so that you can avoid the headache of rebranding.
Whether you like it or not, your company name plays a huge part in the success and growth of your business. That’s why choosing a moniker is so difficult in the first place.
If your current title doesn’t resonate with your target audience, or it can’t send the right message about your company, then the best way to move forward may be to update that name. With a little help from Naimeo, you can even make the re-naming process easier.
We make sure that all of our names are available with a .com domain included, so you can rest assured that you’ll have the online presence you need to start your transformation. We can even include logo suggestions to support your rebranding strategy.
Are you ready to change your business name? Then contact Naimeo today.
To get ahead. Great a great name. From Naimeo.