5 compelling reasons to change your company name
Deciding on your company's name can be an almost agonising process. You may well have spent weeks or even months writing endless lists of keywords; carrying out online research; running ideas past colleagues, friends and family; and weighing up the alternatives, before ultimately taking the plunge and choosing a name.
So it can be disheartening when, after your business has been up and running for a while, you begin to think about changing its name. (How to find that new company name is a whole other kettle of fish, and a subject covered in detail by other posts in Novanym blog, and elsewhere.)
If you do decide to change your business name, it might even feel like you’ve failed in some way, or that your judgment was poor when you chose the ‘wrong’ name. But this is the wrong way to think; business should be about looking forward, not backwards. What’s done is done, and it’s more useful to focus on addressing a problem than beating yourself up about having one. Daunting a prospect as it might be, your focus should be on making the right decision: to change or not to change?
Here are five compelling reasons why changing your company name might be seriously worth considering…
1. You’ve outgrown your name
Much like death and taxes, change in business is inevitable and unavoidable. This means it’s likely that the business you have today is a different beast to the one you first brought into the world.
For example, you may have named your business with a specific market in mind, but your audience is now different. Or perhaps your company name described your main product or service, and it’s no longer the main thing you do (e.g. you named the product, not the company). Or maybe your business name features its geographical location or its sector, and now you want to spread your net further afield. Another common situation is that you used your own name for the company name, and now that you’re growing you realise it doesn’t make a lot of sense, and was never very 'brandable'.
What you need moving forward is flexibility. The change your business has been through so far has taught you that you can’t predict the future. Your specific or descriptive name has painted you into a corner; now you need a name that will future-proof your business.
2. You’re done with settling
Naming your business was a big deal for you, but although you always intended to have a brilliant, humdinger of a name, somehow the ‘perfect' name never came along.
So you settled for a name that was 'good enough'. It was fine, and it’s been OK …but it was never great. Your business has succeeded, and now you’re at that crossroads where you either carry on making do with a compromise, or you grab the bull by the horns and get the name you always wanted.
Although this is a purely ‘emotional’ response, if you’re feeling this nagging dissatisfaction you should listen to your heart, take a deep breath, and commit to change.
3. SEO isn’t going away
It doesn’t matter what kind of business you are; getting found online is important – often mission-critical. The fact is that you’ll struggle to get any real traction online if your company name features generic words or keywords - or if it’s similar to other businesses in your sector. These days a bland, familiar, or unoriginal name is like an invisibility cloak for a business online.
This is as good a reason for changing a company name as I can think of. Of course, finding a completely unique name is a really tough brief. But if unique is optimistic, you should be aiming for a new name that is, at the very least, rare.
4. The joke is no longer funny
Over the past decade or so there’s been a trend for funky or idiosyncratic names that sound a bit crazy, or a bit edgy. At the time, it seemed like a good way for your business to get noticed, and it was a great way to show your personality.
But wind the clock forward, and your business has matured, and today it’s as much about credibility and professionalism as being seen as a quirky upstart. That on-trend business name no longer feels current, in fact maybe it’s even slightly embarrassing or alienates some of your core audience. Maybe it’s time to get serious.
5. You don’t just want a name, you want BRAND name
Now you have more experience under your belt, you’ve begun to recognise the difference between company names and brand names. Brand names are the ones that go beyond telling you what a business does; they make you feel something – they stand for something, are easy to remember, and they connect with people. These are sometimes referred to as brandable business names, and they can add actual, tangible value to a company.
You always wanted a name like that. And it’s a long way from the name you’ve got.
Feel the fear ...and do it anyway
Too many business owners continue to drift along with a name that doesn’t cut the mustard, even when they know instinctively that it needs to change.
Understandably, ‘fear' is the reason they resist the urge to change: fear of getting it wrong again; fear of the process of changing a name; fear of losing customers; and fear of change itself.
But with good planning and communications, the process of changing a company name really isn’t a big deal. And it’s certainly a way bigger deal for you than it is for your customers.
If one or more of the five points above describes your situation, don’t worry so much about the risk of change. Instead, ask yourself “what’s the risk of NOT changing?”.
Once you’ve made the decision to change, remember that changing your company name and branding could be an exciting opportunity! It marks a turning point in your business, it’s a great way to create a sense of renewal, and to signify positive change to the outside world. Go for it.