There are many reasons for businesses to rename themselves – perhaps a change in the company’s direction, an expanding business, or simply because the current name isn’t working or properly reflecting the brand. However, changing the name of a company isn’t as simple as it sounds, there are in fact many things to consider, from choosing the name itself to legal factors and communicating the changes effectively. Printed materials will need to be refreshed, and various other marketing channels effectively used to reach out to existing customers to inform them of the change. Whatever the reason for the name change, preparation is the key. Here are some steps you need to take.
Planning and Research
Making such a big, fundamental change to your business requires careful planning and thorough preparation. A name change is no small matter, and the more extensive your preparations the less time you will need to spend on retroactive changes. Clarity is key, and it will be very difficult – and embarrassing – to make alterations after the fact. There may even be legal implications or a loss of interest from your customer base. Research is very important too – once you have decided on your new name you should check that it is available, and there are no clashes with other established brands – particularly with direct competitors in your field. And make sure your new name fits your brand perfectly, as once you’ve made the change you’re going to be stuck with it for a long time!
Budgeting is also an important factor – you’ll probably have to pay to change your company’s regulatory authorities in your country or region. You’ll need a new website domain name, new printed company materials such as letterheads, and you may need to spend some money on advertising and marketing – more on this later. If you need to trademark your new brand, logo, etc this can also cost money. And any legal advice needs to be factored into a budget.
The first thing you need to do from a legal standpoint is to make sure that there is no legal reason why you can’t use your chosen name. When you’ve got that straightened out, it’s time to think about updating your terms and conditions for customers. You’ll have to discuss with your bank whether or not you need to change account names. Also, will a different account name make it easier for you to manage invoices, refunds, or salaries for your staff? If you are renting company premises your landlord will need to see the certification you received from your local authority when you changed the company name with them.
While marketing presents a large and important part of a company name change, it is also a great opportunity to touch base with your clients and rustle up some interest in your brand. A big part of this step is maintaining some of the brand recognition your company has built up. Usually, this means a certain continuity from one set of marketing materials to the next. Social media profiles will all need to be updated, and social media is the perfect place to make a lot of noise about your name change. Your printed materials, such as business cards, posters, and other marketing tools will all need to be redesigned and reprinted. You will need to buy a new domain name for both your website and your company emails, and the website content will need to be completely refreshed.
Companies can be reticent to change their name, even if it is advisable because they think that their existing customer base – one which has been built up carefully over time – will be compromised. The first thing to remember here is that customers are extremely forgiving when it comes to rebranding. The key is communication – you must sing from the hills about your new identity. If you keep your client base fully informed, the chances are they will react positively to your change. In order to reach everyone possible, major announcements across all possible marketing channels are essential. We’re talking about email lists, social media, outdoor banner advertising, TV spots, leaflets, good old-fashioned snail mail, and word of mouth. Make your renaming an event – customers will remember it then.
Looking at a name change as a series of steps simplifies the process. It’s very important to make and follow your plan, so you get it right the first time.