The Name Game: Things to Consider When You Change Your Business Name


Rapper Snoop Dogg has recently decided to change his name to Snoop Lion, leaving many of us scratching our heads and wondering why. The rapper cites his new reggae sound and Rastafari ideology as the reason for the name change, but it’s certainly turned out to be a successful publicity tactic. Businesses often introduce fresh new names to get people talking about their companies again, but this strategy can also have the opposite effect. Let’s examine the things businesses should consider before changing their names as well as the steps they should take once the name is changed.

Things to Ask Yourself When Considering A Business Name Change:
  • Do you have a legitimate reason for changing your name?

    Are you contemplating changing your name because you have a solid reason to believe that your business will perform better under another brand or is it simply a whim? Changing the name of your business is not a decision to be made lightly. Last year, we helped our client EZTrackIt replace their previous brand, My Digital Doorman for two reasons. First, they were launching their package tracking software business internationally and the term “Doorman” does not translate well overseas and second, “Doorman” pigeon-holed EZTrackIt, making it seem that their system was only for buildings with doormen.

    Here are a few additional reasons a name change may be in order for your business: you’ve grown and your name does not reflect your expanded product lines or service offerings, you’ve relocated and a geographical or cultural reference in your name is no longer accurate, or your name is too long and difficult to remember.

  • How much equity have you built in your current name?

    Brand equity denotes the value of having a well-known company name or brand. A company that has built a considerable amount of equity is more likely to be chosen over its lesser known competitors based on brand recognition alone. If you hold notable equity in your brand, a name change may actually hurt your business.

    For instance, consider your favorite restaurant a few towns over. You don’t frequent it, but you do make special trips a few times a year to eat there. One day you happen to be in the area and you notice that your favorite restaurant has a new sign out front with a completely new name. What would be your first reaction? If you’re like most people, you would automatically assume that the restaurant ownership had changed and that the menu had likely been reworked as well. At this point, you may do a little digging and try the restaurant once more to see if it’s the same, but more likely than not, you’ll write it off as a lost cause.

    You can see how if you have a dedicated customer base, changing your name may not be the best idea. If your brand is extremely recognizable but you absolutely must change your name, be sure to follow our advice below for a smooth transition.

  • Is your new name search engine friendly?

    Whatever your reason, altering your brand gives you the opportunity to choose a name that will increase your chances of being found by search engines. We helped CTNY Limo launch their new brand after they learned that another limo service in the area was operating under a very similar name to their old brand, Avanti Millennium Limo. Since she services both New York and Connecticut, when she told us she had the domain name we agreed it would be a good name change. Not only is it short and easy to remember, they are more likely to be found for searches for “CT Limo” or “NY Limo” than when they were using Avanti Millennium Limo. Once you’ve decided to change your name, perform some keyword research to learn what types of terms consumers or clients are using when looking for businesses like yours. Check-out who comes up for your “new” name. Is it a competitor? Will you get lost in Google because your name is too general and competitive? These are all things to consider.

What To Do Once Your Name Has Been Changed
  • Inform Your Customers Before the Change:

    Prior to erecting a new sign and changing your name on your website or your domain name, let your customers know that you will be operating under a new name. Be sure to reassure them that the management, products offered, menu items etc. will remain the same, unless you are making alterations in these areas as well. Send an eblast explaining why you’ll be using a new name and when they can expect the change to go into effect. If your customer base is small, personal phone calls are a nice touch, especially to key customers.

  • Allow for a Grace Period:

    Have your old domain redirected to your new website. Provide a short explanation on your homepage that acknowledges your old name as well as why you’ve changed it. This tactic minimizes the risk of customers becoming confused when they land on your new website and leaving.

  • Commit to the Change:

    It can be easy for you or your employees to fall into the old habit of answering the phones or welcoming guests using your old name. Break this habit as soon as possible. Just as with your website, allow for a grace period advising your staff to use your new brand and mention your former one when answering the phone for the first few months. After this grace period, stick to the new name. Switching back and forth will only confuse your customers.

Are you considering changing your name but you’re not sure where to begin? Give us a call. We’ll help you determine whether a change is necessary and assist you in choosing a name that will not only fit your business, but will make it more search friendly as well.

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