What's in a Name?
There is a current television commercial for Overstock.com stating that "people may think that means we sell overstock goods". Ya think? Yes, we do. It's your
International House of Pancakes (IHOP) announced it as a name change, but actually, this was a marketing campaign to gain attention to the fact that they aren't "just for breakfast. They announced that their new name would be International House of Burgers (IHOb).
How important is your company name?
Naturally, businesses evolve and change and with that evolution often comes a name change. Domino's Pizza became simply Domino's as they expanded their menu...Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC, ostensibly to remove the word "fried" from their name so as not to call attention to the unhealthy connotation...Federal Express changed their name to the abbreviation that everyone used to refer to them anyway: FedEx.
The name of your company is THE most important component of your brand. Can you - or should you - "market" past a significant change in your products or services?
4 Reasons to Change Your Company Name
- If your name no longer reflects what you do or sell. If you've changed industries or overall company strategy, a name change is probably necessary.
- It's a legacy name that is no longer valid. The founder's names are in the company name and they are long-retired or deceased; certainly no longer involved in any aspect of the business. (For every rule there's an exception - a brand with a strong identity like Orville Redenbacher would be one of them.)
- If it's too generic and/or doesn't differentiate you. Your name can help you stand out from the competition. Acme Accounting does not differentiate.
- If you want to broaden your appeal. When a company name references a local region or is no longer relevant to your audience, you may benefit from a name change.
- If it's hard to spell, pronounce or find online. (And for every rule, there's an exception that breaks it. I have no idea how Husqvarna every got any traction in the U.S...).
Even if one or more of the above reasons is valid, consult a brand specialist to help with the process. For instance, if your company name is an obsolete legacy name BUT it's a well-established, recognized brand (as in the example above), you may want to leave well enough alone. Don't fix something that isn't broken.
IF you do:
If you're considering changing your company name, make sure that you have a clear strategic reason for the change and be prepared to allocate enough resources to do it right. Resist the urge to rely on family or friends for the new company name, or use online logo tools to design a new logo. Enlist the help of professionals to make sure you have considered all of the critical factors.
A name change obviously presents additional marketing opportunities.Many evolving companies have a story to tell, and your story can also become a critical component of your marketing strategy.