What's in a name?
Well, that all depends on who's asking and who's answering. When talking about your business, it matters plenty. Not to the point that you should prevent it from doing whatever it is your business does, but sometimes it's smart to change your company's name. The New York Times recently had an interesting story about a company that decided to change its name after being misidentified on national television. That makes sense, though it's frustrating: Everyone looking for you from the TV will be looking for the incorrect name.
Obviously, there are no blanket statements to make, per se, when touching on something like rebranding your brand. There are some points worth making, like remembering that the name should be both easy to pronounce and spell.
Assuming you have both of those addressed, you should ponder whether you truly need to change your name. If it's a name that has lots of equity build up in it and there isn't enough of a marketing budget to support the change anyway, don't bother. If you're committed to changing it, don't do it as a kneejerk decision. Do your research. Maybe get a third party involved who has more expertise in making this sort of transition and also doesn't have an emotional investment in your name.
"A company should not change its name just to have it be a story," said Kyra Mancine, a copywriter and PR specialist at QCI Direct. "It is a major decision and should not be taken lightly because it can be confusing to customers, stakeholders, etc…Then, there is the logistics of the logo and everything it is on - stationery, boxes, correspondence."
Mancine also adds that you can expect growing pains that will last a couple of years. Not everyone will get onboard immediately, so it should really be a new name you believe in and a change that is needed.
When else should you change your name? David M Burrows, VP of corporate marketing and PR at Cinsay Inc. emailed this over:
* Too generic and ambiguous - unless you have an enormous budget to take a household word and break it out as your own brand (IE: Apple), then your company can easily become lost and forgotten in a sea of similar names.
* Too funky – entrepreneurs can be great at creating their business concept but lousy at creating a name for it. Applying a complicated, or multi-hybrid word to your business is counterproductive as people won't understand what it is, how to pronounce it or much less, remember it. The same goes for business owners who want to use their last name as the business name. Proper names shouldn't be used if they can't be pronounced, easily spelled or worse, send the wrong message. As the accounting firm joke goes, don't ever name your business Dewey, Cheatum and Howe.
Brooke Lighton, a former copywriter and creative director at Ogilvy & Mather and Foote Cone & Belding who now runs her own agency, Connascent, suggests that you should pick a name that means something, avoiding the vanity of your own name if it's not going to set you apart and if you've been around since before the Internet days you should definitely change it because "having a 90-year heritage can just [make you] look old."
Certainly a topic as enormous as changing your company's name can't be completely addressed in a single small post on a blog, but hopefully this planted a few seeds in your mind to cultivate.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.