4 Tips on How to Rename a Firm
Pop quiz: What do BackRub, Blue Ribbon Sports and AuctionWeb have in common?
Hint: You probably know these companies better by their current names: Google, Nike and Ebay.
If you guessed “They’re all companies that changed their name” give yourself a pat on the back!
I always find it interesting to hear about giant brands that changed their names, but smaller companies change their names too, often as a matter of survival.
Firms might change their name to better align with new services, new ownership or because they ran into a similarly named business during an expansion. No matter the reason, renaming a firm and going through the requisite rebranding process is rarely without its challenges. Here are five tips to make renaming a firm work in the real world.
Do your research
Deciding on a new firm name can be one of the most challenging parts of the renaming process. How do you choose a name that will last? One that will embody your values and reflect the emotional connection you want to have with your clients? This part can be so complex that there are entire companies devoted to naming other companies!
One name might sound great when it’s tossed out at a partner meeting, but what will the rest of the world think? Survey employees to find out what they think of the new name. Remember, though, that names will always be subjective and getting a consensus will be difficult. There will always be someone who has a visceral reaction based on their own experience or clings to their own idea. Gather input, but keep the approval team small.
Once you’ve developed some ideas, do research to make sure the name isn’t already in use. Start with the US Patent and Trademark Office’s trademark search tool. Then find out whether the domain name is available and whether the name is up for grabs on all social media channels, including Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Even if you’re not active on all of those channels, you don’t want someone else posting under your company name.
Revamp your swag
From new business cards to t-shirts, website to marketing collateral, everything bearing your old firm name will have to be replaced. You’ll want to be consistent when it comes time to roll out the new name. If you need some help remembering all of the areas that will need to be updated, the Center for Productivity created a handy checklist to help with the transition.
To reduce confusion for existing clients, some firms include “formerly XYZ Company” on the letterhead, website and other items for several months after the change.
Communicate the change
How you communicate the name change can make all the difference between a successful transition and a failure. Start with your employees. Don’t just make an announcement via email. Hold face-to-face meetings to announce the name change, explain the rationale behind it and answer any questions they may have.
Once employees are on board, reveal the name change publicly. Draw up a clear communication plan, using as many channels as possible. Announce the change well in advance of the actual switchover to give clients time to get used to the idea. Some name changes come about for negative reasons, whether the firm was bought out or faced legal challenges. Make sure your clients know you are celebrating the change! You might even consider hosting a special event for customers to mark the launch.
Don’t let the transformation drag out over several confusing and inconsistent months. When you make the change, everything should transition on one single day. You will need to have your former website redirect to the new one and rename social media accounts.
Employees should be fully briefed and ready to use the new name when they are writing emails or talking to clients. You may still encounter resistance from some staff and customers who have grown accustomed to your existing identity. Remain positive and upbeat in all of your communications and demonstrate a sense of leadership. Over time, the name change and any opposition to it will seem like ancient history.
With careful research, thorough planning, strategy and execution, you can successfully rename your firm. Follow the four tips above, and you and your team can better anticipate and manage the renaming process to achieve your desired results.