Rebranding a business can be a challenge and you need to be prepared for the endeavor before you ever begin. You may want to change your name for various reasons. Maybe the name you chose years ago doesn’t fit the current company culture or products. Maybe you want to remove the personalization of a name or initial included in the original name. Or maybe you want to disassociate with legal issues your company has faced in the past. Whatever the reason, changing the name of your business can help you propel your business into new markets or even just help your customers better understand what you offer. Check out our business name change checklist below to get a brief explanation on how to go about changing the name of a business and rebranding strategies.
Before you begin a rebrand of your company, you must understand what’s wrong with the current branding. Is your name difficult to pronounce, in a foreign language that doesn’t resonate with your customers, obscure, childish, or lackluster? There can be many reasons why a name or branding doesn’t work out. Figure out what’s wrong so you can avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
Once you figure out why you want to change the name and branding, it’s time to focus on the customers. Understanding your customers is the first step to successfully marketing a product or service. Who is your target market? If your target customers are children, your name is going to need to be a lot different than if your target customers are college educated blue collar workers.
Create a buyer persona for your company that includes all of the most important information about the ideal customer you want to attract. Consider this a profile of your target customer based on real data that includes items like gender, income, job title, family size, etc. You should give this persona a name and a face so you can imagine this person viewing your brand. For more information about targeted marketing and marketing segmentation check out our articles “What is the definition of market segmentation” and “Targeted marketing, understanding the basics.” Tailor all of your branding and messaging to this desired target market and make sure you always ask yourself this question or similar: “Would Joe/Jill Customer resonate with this ad/image/blog/social media post?”.
Brainstorm a list of names that are a better fit for your brand. Be sure to check if website domains are available for these names. The worst feeling is coming up with a star-studded, unique name idea, then finding out the domain for that brand is going to cost $10,000 more than you have to spend. Also be sure to research the best names and find out if anyone else in your industry has already taken them. Even worse than missing out on the ideal URL for your website is running into legal issues with your business.
There are 4 main types of business names: functional, invented, experiential, and evocative names. Each name type can be wildly successful, given the right branding and marketing to go along with them. Functional names usually consist of a description of the company’s product or service. Think Toys R Us and Bank of America. Invented names are made up words or obscure words most people aren’t likely to know. Think Google, Pixar, or Kodak. Experiential names connect to something real but can have a touch of imagination. Think Safari, Netscape, Vanguard. Evocative names use suggestion or metaphor to let the customer interpret what your brand does. Think Amazon, Apple, Hooters.
Determine the legal changes that must be made to change your name. This can differ depending on the type of business you own. You may want to change your name entirely with every legal agency, such as the IRS, secretary of state, etc. This may result in a new EIN (employer identification number) for your business. Or you may be able to file a DBA (doing business as) with the new name, keeping the old name legally and using the new name as a front-facing name for your branding. Either way, you must notify the government that you plan on doing business under a different name. Make sure to update your licenses and permits to include the new name if necessary.
There are some obvious things that need to change with a name update including a logo, verbiage/content on your website, and physical marketing materials such as signage and brochures. And there are some not so obvious things that may need to change, such as company colors, imagery, and the way you speak to your customers. You may want to hire a professional marketing firm to handle the rebranding process to make sure your logo and other visual assets are on point. You may also want to trademark your logo if you’re concerned about another designer ripping off your design or using it inappropriately, but this step is not necessary in most cases.
Let your customers know about changing your business name. Returning customers might think they’re in the wrong place or customers who have heard about you with your old name might not be able to find you. Send multiple email blasts to your subscribers with a rebranding announcement, post on social media, and make it obvious on your website that you used to have one name and now have another. Use every channel you can find to let your customers know that they can still get the great product or service they’ve come to love. You can even make a blog post or a page on your website about why you decided to change your name. This not only lets your current and potential customers know who you are and used to be, but it will help users who don’t know still find you when searching for your old name.
Rebranding with a business name change is a demanding and tedious process. Aside from the research and legal changes that must be made, updating your branding everywhere is a lot of work. You must scour the internet for mentions of your old name and redesign every physical marketing material you have. Everything from your website to your business cards must have your new name and branding. That’s why we recommend hiring a marketing and branding professional to help guide you through the rebranding process. If you want to know more about the importance of branding, check out our article “Branding and its role in marketing” for more information.