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Key Signs It’s Time to Change Your Company Name

Did you know that Google used to be called ‘BackRub’? Or that Pepsi was once known as ‘Brad’s Drink’?

Thank God the marketing departments involved saw sense, right?

Only, changing your company’s name isn’t quite as simple as that. Beyond the obvious administrative hassle and expense that’s involved, people (both those in the business itself and its customers) get attached to names.

Even the team behind Yahoo! were probably rather fond of ‘Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web’ before they decided to switch it up. Or maybe they weren’t, actually.

The fact remains that these huge household names probably wouldn’t have been anywhere near as successful if they’d stuck with their original names. It’s why brand name matters – big time, and it pays to get it right.

How do I know if I need to change my company name?

We’ve worked with loads of companies on name changes, and it’s become clear that there are some common reasons for doing so.

So, in no particular order…


Reason 1: It’s just a bit… rubbish

That’s OK. Lots of company names are chosen quickly during those early days. Remember what Yahoo! used to be called.

Your company name should be something of which you’re proud and which distinguishes you from the competition. ‘Rubbish’ may therefore simply refer to the fact it’s too generic or doesn’t stick in one’s mind.

Acronyms are a classic example of this. If you settled on a three-letter name for your company, you can bet your bottom dollar there are countless others out there using the same acronym. And no one can remember the letters so they can’t search for you online or refer to  you.

If the name was simply ‘settled on’ when you first started out, that’s a brilliant reason to change it.


Reason 2: People are always getting it wrong

If you’re fed up with continually correcting people about your company name, or you have to spell it out over the phone, something’s wrong.

You may even find that people refer to you by a completely different name – maybe that of a competitor.

This is a classic case of brand confusion, and your business name lies at the heart of it. Company names need to be unique for this reason, but they also need to be easy to spell, say, and remember.


Reason 3: It’s a legacy name

We can’t tell you what ‘legacy’ means when it comes to your company name, because it’s very subjective – but we can help you spot it.

For instance, the company may have been named after the founder. (I’m talking to you, legal and insurance firms!) In some instances, this will work for as long as the company is in existence, but if the owner is long since deceased or has moved onto another industry (or competitor), you really should think about changing.

It may also be tied to a product that no longer exists or which is vastly out of date (we’ll get onto that in a moment).

Your company name has reached legacy status when it begins to feel at odds with what you’re doing now. And if you don’t have the legacy or recognition to justify the continued use of that name, the best thing you can do is find an alternative.


Reason 4: It’s tied to a location

Lots of businesses still choose a name based on their location. This is usually to establish trust within that area and help with marketing techniques such as local Search Engine Optimisation.

It works, to a point, but only if you forever reside within that location. What if you expand? More importantly what if the location’s presence in your company name is holding you back from expanding into new territories, or making you appear to be smaller than you are?

Simply removing the location from your name might work, but you could find that its absence then demands a full name change. And that’s absolutely the thing you need to do if it’ll help your business grow.


Reason 5: You’ve changed product strategy

Business names are sometimes linked to products. This is particularly dangerous, because most companies outlive each of their product lines.

Products evolve, change, and disappear entirely. What if your company name is linked to a product or service you no longer sell?

You may even have pivoted and entered into an entirely new industry.

If any of these things are true, your existing company name is probably a hindrance and, let’s be honest, a bit of an embarrassment. It’ll also cause total confusion with your new audience, so it really is best to get rid.


Things to consider before changing your company name

If you can identify with at least one of the reasons above, you might be itching to get started.

However, before you change your name, keep the following in mind.

  • You need a clear strategy: the reason your business exists, and its core values need to be taken into account when devising the name, otherwise it won’t help with your positioning.
  • Remember it won’t fix everything: a new name won’t improve your product reliability or stop customers from churning. Don’t allow the renaming of the company to brush the bigger problems under the carpet.
  • You’ll need the right resources: deciding on a new name takes time, experience, and skill. And for that, you might need some external help.

If you think you need that external help, you’ve come to the right place.

Get in touch with the Be Smart team to find out how we’ll ensure you find the perfect new name for your company and brand. You’ll find us on BackRub. Sorry, I mean Google. 😉

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