What’s your name again? – How and why you might want to rename your company

by John Mulder

When you say your company’s name, does it offer intrigue? Does it give someone a glimpse into your personality? If it does, then this article isn’t for you. However, if you answered no, keep reading.

Your company’s name is the first thing people mention when they talk about your business. It’s said dozens of times by you and your employees every day, and it’s front-and-center on all of your marketing. Your name should open doors or at least get people to sit up and take notice. Not ignore you.

That’s why it’s so important to make sure your name is doing its job – some may argue, more than anything.

Often, names people choose when a company is formed doesn’t work well as it evolves. And in some cases, a weak name could be preventing your success.

Here are some indicators that you might be in line for a name change:

1. If you’ve experienced brand mix-up.

Does your company ever get calls for a business with a similar name? Or, do people ever mistake your company for another business in a different industry? Or, do you have trouble with people misspelling or mispronouncing your name?  If your name is not distinct, your marketing has to work a lot harder, and that can burn your budget.

2. If you’ve changed your service line.

Businesses obviously change to respond to the market. Over the years, you may have added new products or service lines. Or if you have moved into an entirely new industry, you might need to consider a new name – especially if your brand specifically mentions the work you used to do.

3. If your company is named after its founder.

Many companies name their organization after their founder. The practice is particularly common with professional services firms. It poses the biggest issue when founders or partners leave or die. There are of course companies named after people who stand the test of time. But, if your organization doesn’t have the level of name recognition of Walt Disney, Morgan Stanley, or Johnson & Johnson, founder-based names might be problematic for you.

4. If the name includes a geography reference.

Many local businesses choose to brand their company based on their location. These names do little to differentiate the company. When you’re the only greenhouse or gym in town, it can work. But, if your company has any plans to expand, a name change might be in order.

5. If your name is generic or ordinary.

Your name should be a distinct and a differentiator. However, if your name is unmemorable, it might be time to change. Your name should be “sticky” and help you separate yourself from the competition. Names with three letters pose a major problem. Acronyms have very little retention value, and that inhibits your competitive edge.

In almost every instance, an evocative company name will help your marketing efforts and give your business a new personality and spark.

But before you decide to rename your business, you must take the following steps:

  1. Define your strategy.
    If you don’t have clear, strategy for your company, start with that. An undifferentiated business only leads to a boring, bland brand. You must have a clear understanding of why you are in business.
  1. Establish a budget.
    Although your name might be hurting you, renaming your business takes time and money to do it right. Invest in a company who can help you craft a name that serves as rocket fuel for your brand. A failed renaming effort can set you back even further.
  1. Fix your company first.
    A new name cannot fix a broken business.  A new name without brand changes is simply not going to move the needle. Make sure a new name reflects who you are as a company and not repackaging the same problems.

Change is hard when it comes to your company’s name. It’s why I call the process “renaming your child.” After all, it’s what you’ve been calling your business since it was born. To call it by another name may feel odd or uncomfortable and you may feel like your giving up part of your identity. But, in some cases, a name change is exactly what you need to get to the next level.

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