Changing your company name requires careful consideration and planning to achieve a successful outcome and take your business to the next level. Before you make the move, here are five key considerations to achieve optimal results.
Evaluate the Pros and Cons Before You Begin.
Company name changes are prompted by a number of factors such as the business name being too common, too literal, and too generic, geographically limiting, and a meaningless or former surname, an acronym that requires explanation. Discuss the potential risks and rewards with your management team and gather feedback from the rank and file as well. Often the long term benefits of greater name recognition and higher customer recall can outweigh the temporary cost of transitioning from a limiting or misleading company name. So look at both short term disruption and expense as well as long term brand positioning and equity to gain a good overall perspective.
Establish a Plan of Action.
If you decide to move forward, lay out a definitive course of action to accomplish your goals. Decide the “who, what, where, when, why and how.” List out the key branding criteria that will be the drivers for the project. Is it to better position your company to take advantage of new markets and opportunities? Do you need the matching .com? Who will spearhead the name change? And will you do it internally or hire outside expertise? Map out as many of the objectives and action steps that you can. Decide who will head up the project and who will be in on the decision making process. The fewer decision makers, the easier the decision. Take in lots of input, but try to limit the final decision to those who understand the company’s goals and objectives.
Generate the new company names.
Armed with a creative brief and branding criteria, brainstorm ideas that capture the essence of your company’s mission. This step can be done internally or with the help of outside vendors. Start by writing a definitive creative brief which details the branding criteria from step 2 above. Distribute the brief to team members or to branding firms that you engage. Have a firm list of deliverables that you expect at the end of the process, (e.g. the new company name, a matching supporting tag line, a new logo design, a matching domain name, trademark clearance, etc.). Set up a reasonable timeline that allows for multiple rounds of names, with time for team members to review and digest the names (from one to three months for smaller companies, three to six months for larger firms.)
Pick the Winner.
When all is said and done, it’s time to pick a business name – one that best reflects your company’s unique qualities and attributes. This seems obvious enough, but change can be scary, and the fear of the unknown can cause undue hesitation. Remind yourself of the missed opportunities and the potential gains you listed when first starting out. If you’ve set clear branding criteria that addresses the issues with your current name, then your top picks are almost certainly better than what you currently have in place. Run through the mental exercise of introducing yourself with the new name. Try out the transition from the name to a short explanation of what you do – your “elevator speech.” See if the name provides an overall platform that allows for future growth and expansion, such as brand extensions and sub branding.
Implement the Plan.
Introduce your new company name in a way that underscores the positive goals and outcomes behind your decision. Have a press release in place to highlight the benefits of the new name, and how that will help both customers and staff moving forward. Have all the various branding elements in place and ready to go, from the company web site and social media pages to internal documents and vehicle signage. Have your legal counsel file any local, state and federal documents required. Typically, there is a release of new energy with a company name change, as staff can now refocus on other key areas of the business.
Through careful planning, creative strategy, and consistent execution, you can successfully rename and reposition your company to build greater awareness, recall and profitability.