• Monday, June 24, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

7 reasons to change your business name

Rebranding for Success… in 10 Simple Steps

A business name change is the process of developing a new name for a business and legally registering the business under the new name. Like most branding initiatives, business name changes generally fall into three categories: the good, the bad, and the ugly. A good name is both memorable and differentiating. A bad name can cause more problems than it solves, including everything from confusion to legal hot water.

Why a Business Name Change?

So, why change your business’s name? There are plenty of good reasons, some better than others. Below are some of the best reasons to do a business name change.

1. You’re Being Legally Forced to Change Your Name

This first one is a no-brainer. If another company has sent you a letter demanding your company change its name, it’s probably a good time to start the renaming process. When selecting a name, it’s imperative to check all common law usages, social media handles, competitor product names and URLs to make sure it isn’t already being used.

2. You’ve Outgrown Your Name

Does your brand’s name still speak to its various offerings? Or is it part of an outdated legacy that no longer reflects who you are today? If the latter, renaming can be an effective way to better encompass everything your brand does—or aspires to do in the future.

When Apple originally launched, it was called Apple Computers. In 2007, Steve Jobs announced that “Computers” would be dropped from the brand’s official name. This simple change meant the brand was no longer tied to a single product. It opened the company to offering a range of consumer electronics. Tesla took a similar approach, dropping “Motors” from its name.

3. Your Name Causes Brand Confusion

Is your business often confused with another business with a similar name? Do customers tend to mispronounce your name or have a hard time spelling it? Does your name require a lengthy explanation that only kind of makes sense?
There’s no shortage of ways a business name can cause confusion. Each is like a tiny dagger to the heart of brand equity. When customers are confused, even momentarily, by your business name, it prevents them from making anything but a negative association with your business.

Read also: Your brand and first impressions

4. Your Name Is Failing to Stand Out

There are many reasons names get lost in the sea of competition. While some are too generic, others are too trendy. Names that include contemporary buzzwords can feel safe—even cool—at the time, but they run the risk of quickly dating a brand. Avoid such traps by taking a beat to acknowledge your inherent biases. It’s natural to want a name that’s in line with current trends.

5. You’ve Expanded Beyond Your Geography

Geographical names are imbued with the character and history of their location, after all, and can be integral to a brand’s story. But, more often than not, names like these limit a brand’s scope and credibility. It’s difficult to create brand positioning as a national or international company if your name suggests that you specialise in regional offerings. As your company grows, a broader name allows you to connect more deeply with new customers in new markets.

6. Your Business is Named After Its Founder

While there are plenty of large, successful brands named after their founders—Dangote, Ben & Jerry’s, Martha Stewart, Ralph Lauren, to name a few—the founder naming type is not without its challenges, especially for smaller companies looking to break into the big leagues.

Founder names can often be difficult to pronounce and/or spell. They’re inherently limiting, and sometimes sticky politically, as new partners are brought on to the business.

Perhaps most importantly, there is nothing intrinsic to a founder’s name that is associated with the business or the value it offers its customers. It takes a lot of marketing spend to turn what was once a run-of-the-mill surname like Ford or Kellogg into the brands they are today.

7. Your Business Name is an Acronym

One can always point to the success of brands like MTN, IBM, DHL and UPS to make a case for a series of unrelated uppercase letters as a brand name, but these companies are the exception, not the rule.

Acronyms are notoriously difficult for customers to remember and even harder for attorneys to trademark. For these reasons and more, you would never think to use an acronym as the new name for your company. The simple fact is, any business with an acronym as a name, is not as engaging, memorable, or differentiated as it could be with an evocative name. That should be reason enough to change a business name.

Companies that Changed Their Names

Most of the brands you know and love we’re at some point called something else.

a. Facebook → Meta

b. BackRub → Google

c. Relentless → Amazon

d. Sound of Music → Best Buy

e. Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo → Sony

f. Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web → Yahoo

Last line

There’s no shortage of reasons you should rename your company, some better than others. When the time is right, and the resources are in place, nothing can reinvigorate a flagging brand quite like a new name. Just remember to keep an open mind and trust the process.