Think it might be time for a fresh start for your business?
Just like naming your business in the first place, changing a business name is a delicate process that requires careful consideration and planning. In an ideal world, you’d automatically choose the right title first time around. However, there are instances in which a name change might be necessary.
For instance, the title that worked for your business 10 years ago might not be the one that best represents you now. Countless companies have evolved, changing their brands and names over the years.
- Google started life as Back Rub.
- Accenture began as Arthur Andersen.
- Brad’s Drink was the original name for Pepsi Cola.
- Yahoo was initially “Jerry’s guide to the world-wide-web”.
- Sound of Music was the first name for Best Buy.
All of these amazing companies have thrived over the years, because their business name change helped their brands to grow and evolve. The truth is that the right title can either open doors for your company or slam them in your face.
If your business name isn’t making the right impression anymore, you need to decide whether changing your business name is the right thing to do.
Before you rename a business…
Coming up with a sensational business name is one of the toughest things any entrepreneur will have to do. After all, the right title identifies your business, tells prospects and customers about your brand, and differentiates you from the competition.
Simply changing your business name because you’re in the mood for an update isn’t a good idea. One of the reasons why brand titles are so effective is that customers build connections with them over time. However, there are reasons for a name change that are worth considering.
For instance, one of the most common reasons to change a business name is that you’ve decided to invest in a full rebrand. When your identity in the current landscape just isn’t appealing to your target audience anymore, a rebrand could be the only way to make a difference.
Over the years, you might have found that your original customer personas weren’t as accurate as you thought. That means you need to adjust your entire personality and image to suit a new audience. Alternatively, you may have recently joined forces with another company through a merger, forcing both companies to refresh their identities.
Although the decision to change the name of a business doesn’t have to come as part of a rebranding campaign, it’s a big process. If you change your name, your audience will expect a significant change in your business too. That’s something you’ll need to keep in mind when you’re preparing to rename a business. Other things to remember when you’re changing your business name is that there are various costs and challenges to consider.
You’ll need to:
- File the appropriate documents with your government to ensure your company is registered.
- Purchase a new name from a professional naming group.
- Pay for hosting for your new domain name.
- Update your marketing materials.
- Change the design of your website and logo.
- Adjust your branding strategy.
- Present your new identity to your stakeholders.
- Pay for trademarks and copyrights.
If you’re planning to change the name of a business, it’s often a good idea to make a list of all the expenses and hurdles that you’ll need to overcome. This way, you’ll be better-prepared for the process.
The best reasons for a name change
As mentioned above, deciding to change the name of a business means committing to a lot of extra expenses and work. Changing your business name isn’t something you’ll want to do very often. However, there are times when this process might be necessary.
While the quick-and-catchy one-word business name you chose when you began building your brand might have been effective at first, it won’t always stay that way.
Your business and marketplace will evolve. This could pave the way for endless reasons for name change campaigns.
Here are just 5 of the best reasons to change your business name.
1. You’re having trouble with trademarks
When you first launched your company a few years ago, you might have assumed that you didn’t need to worry about protecting your reputation with a trademark. Perhaps you thought your business name was unique enough that it didn’t need copyrighting. On the other hand, you might have had a generic title that was impossible to trademark successfully.
Unfortunately, as time passes by, if you don’t have a trademark for your brand, there’s nothing to stop another company from stepping in and stealing your identity. For instance, this is what happened when Jacob Childrey received a cease and desist letter from a larger competitor. The company discovered that someone else was using its name, and that it had to change its identity fast.
2. Your name no longer reflect your business
Legal issues are one of the most common reasons for a name change. However, you might also decide to rename a business if your chosen moniker no longer reflects your brand. Companies can grow and evolve over time. Some names are adaptable enough to survive this growth, like Amazon, or Google. On the other hand, if you chose a descriptive name that focused on a specific product or service, like “Brad’s Computers”, then you’re going to have an issue.
If your company has recently begun to offer new products or services, or you’ve merged with another brand, then your title might not be reflective of the brand you want to create anymore. A new name might better reflect your identity.
3. Your name is outdated
There are many reasons why a name can end up being outdated.
One common issue is that when you chose your original title, you might have gone for a trending style, rather than paying attention to your brand identity. For instance, for a while, startup companies used the “missing e” technique to create names like Tumblr and Foundr.
While this trend has continued to be successful for some brands, it doesn’t work for everyone. There’s also a chance that choosing a trending strategy will cause your name to lose appeal over time. If your audience can associate your title with an old and outdated strategy, they might lose faith in your business. If you feel that the legacy of your brand name is harming your reputation, rather than enhancing it, changing your business name is a good idea.
4. Your name is too generic
Choosing a creative and compelling business name isn’t easy.
When you’re keen to launch your company as quickly as possible, you may not have the time to spend weeks or months brainstorming titles. Unfortunately, that could mean that you end up using half-hearted methods to name your company, like business name generators.
Using a basic or generic name might seem like a good idea at first. However, you’ll get to a point where that title just isn’t doing anything for your brand. Generic terms don’t create strong emotional bonds with your target audience, which means that your growth potential is likely to suffer.
On the other hand, if you change your business name to something more meaningful, you could help your brand to thrive by differentiating yourself from your competitors.
5. Your name is difficult or confusing
Finally, for a business name to succeed, it needs to be easy to understand and spell. If your company’s title is difficult to spell or confusing, then your customers might lose track of you. A business name that doesn’t make sense is harder to remember overall.
If you want to reduce your chances of changing your business name too quickly when you purchase a title for your brand, ask yourself:
- How easy is it for me to say this name?
- Will this title be easy to spell when customers are searching online?
- Is there anything confusing or overly clever about this title?
Ask various stakeholders and members of staff to pronounce your name out loud and let you know if there’s anything about the moniker that’s difficult to grasp.
Steps to take when renaming a business
Whatever the reasons for your name change might be, it’s important to have the right plan in place.
Now that you’ve decided to change your business name, you want to ensure that you’re getting things right this time around. Changing your company name requires careful work and thought, not just on your part, but on the behalf of your customers too.
So, what do you need to do when you’re renaming a business?
Step 1: Focus on your brand
The first step in a successful renaming strategy is making sure that your new title suits your company and identity.
- Your business name needs to be an extension of your brand essence, so ask yourself:
- What makes my company different from other brands in your industry?
- What does your business do?
- What is the kind of personality you’re trying to convey for your brand?
- What’s your unique value proposition?
You’ll need to be particularly carefully with this step if you’ve chosen to change your business name as part of a rebranding strategy. It might be helpful to create a set of brand guidelines to help you make the right decision.
Step 2: Put simplicity first
Once you have a good understanding of your brand and the identity you want to convey with your name change, it’s time for the next step. Think about how you can make this new title easy to pronounce and spell for your audience. Think about keeping your name to a single word or just a few syllables so that there’s not as much for your audience to remember.
While you’re focusing on simplicity, make sure that your logistical ducks are in a row too.
For instance, you’ll need to ensure that:
- An appropriate domain name is available. You get a .com domain with names from Naimeo.
- The name is available to trademark or copyright.
- You can register your name with the federal trademark commission.
- The correct social media handles are available.
- There aren’t any unusual definitions associated with your name.
Step 3: Avoid anything too narrow or too wide
Finally, when changing a business name, you’ll need to concentrate on finding something that exists within the “Goldilocks zone” for branding. You don’t want anything that’s too narrow, like “London Shoe Company”, because that doesn’t give your company enough room to grow. Alternatively, something that’s too broad or generic could confuse your audience.
When you’re reviewing names for your potential change, avoid anything that is:
- Too generic or impossible to trademark, like “Cabinets”.
- Focused on a specific product or service.
- Linked to a specific geographical location.
- Lacking in personality or emotion.
Rather than just describing what you do or what you sell with your business name, think about how you can convey the inner values and missions of your business. For instance, Apple reduced its name from “Apple Computers” to convey growth and innovation, without limiting itself to a specific product.
What to remember when changing your business name
There are various reasons why most companies will avoid changing business names too regularly. Updating your name too often can confuse your audience and make it difficult for them to form a connection with your brand. Additionally, the cost to rename a business can be significant, particularly if there’s a lot of brand assets that need to be changed.
If you’ve assessed your situation carefully and decided to change the name of a business, then you’ll need to make sure that you’re approaching your strategy with caution.
1. There are risks associated with name changes
Renaming a business is a complicated process. People often rebel against sudden and dramatic changes. You’ll need to make sure that you’re not shocking your audience with a sudden overnight name change. Present your decision to your customers and find out how they feel about the new name before you make the full transition.
Asking for feedback from your target market will help you to ensure that your new title is well suited to the customers that you’re trying to reach. At the same time, your customers will feel like they’ve played a part in your rebranding strategy. This means that they’re much more likely to accept your business name change.
Be prepared. Even if most people love your new name, there’s always a chance that other people will stop shopping with your brand because of it. A moniker can be much more powerful than you think.
2. Your name should have emotional appeal
Once you’ve decided when to change your business name, the next most important decision you’ll have to make is how to make that change. You’ll need a title that’s going to resonate with your customers and elicit an emotional response. Think about what kind of products or services your company offers, and how you make your customers feel when you solve their problems.
For instance, the name Amazon immediately conveys ideas of exploration and variety. When customers visit this marketplace, they know that they’re going to get the wide selection of choices that they’re looking for.
If you’re not sure how to have an emotional impact with your name, think about how you can tell your story. Look at your brand guidelines and ask yourself what you want people to know about your business from day one. Do you want them to know that you’re friendly and pure, like Innocent? Maybe you want to convey size and depth like Google?
3. Updating your branding elements is essential
Remember, once you decide to change the name of a business, you’re not just altering the name. Your title is likely to be a common component in all of your brand assets. This means that you’re going to need to adjust everything from your business cards and stationary, to your business website, logo, and other visual tools too.
- How you can update your branding to support your new name and convey the kind of emotions and values that you want your name to encompass.
- How taglines, design elements, and other context-building tools can work with your new name to deliver a rich story about your brand.
- If you’re going to need to plan a new launch to introduce people to your new brand all at once, or whether you’re going to drip new content out one bit at a time.
If there are a lot of elements to change, from your logo to your domain name, you may need to prepare your audience for the change by posting blogs, articles, and videos about the upcoming name change, and why you’ve decided to rename your business.
4. Research is crucial
One of the most common reasons for a name change, is that something about your current name is no longer working for you. While a name can become problematic for many reasons, it may be that you forgot to do some of your due diligence the last time you were looking for a title. If that’s the case, make sure that you don’t make the same mistake again.
Changing your business name costs a lot of time and money. You don’t want to go through this process just to discover that you need to start all over again within a few months. While all of the names available from Naimeo come with a .com domain, you’ll still need to check that you can trademark your new title.
It’s also worth checking to see whether you can claim the social media handles for the title that you want to embrace too.
5. Your name needs to match your brand
Finally, remember that when you change the name of a business, you need to ensure that your new title matches the brand that you want to create perfectly. You shouldn’t start investing in a new title until you know for certain that you’ve picked a title that’s a memorable extension of your brand.
Test the quality of your name by running it by members of your team. Ask people what they think and feel when they see your name written down or hear it out loud. Don’t make the mistake of naming your company in vacuum without the input of others.
Is it time to change your business name?
The decision to change a business name isn’t something that any company should rush into.
Your name is one of the most valuable assets that you have. With the right title, you can develop a strong connection with your target audience. However, sometimes, the name that you choose when your company first begins isn’t the one that you’ll stick with forever.
There are times when a business name won’t make the right impact on your customers, or you might decide that you need a change to suit the demands of a merger or purchase. When the reasons are right, a business name change can be crucial, even if it is difficult too.
The good news is that you don’t have to do everything on your own.
When the time comes to change your business name, there are companies out there that can help you to make an educated choice for your new title. Here at Naimeo, we can offer companies a selection of pre-vetted business names that they can sort through to find the titles that are best-suited to their needs. Our names even come with a logo placeholder and .com domain to get you started.
If you want to make changing your business name easier, reach out to Naimeo.com today.
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