Deciding whether or not to change your business name, especially if you have been trading under it for many years, can be an extremely daunting prospect.
If you find yourself toying with the idea of renaming your business, we have put together this blog to explore the main reasons why a company should consider rebranding and the benefits a new name can offer.
Let's just get this one out of the way; one of the most compelling reasons to change your name is when your brand has been irreversibly linked to an adverse event or action.
If your once good name gets dragged through the mud, cleaning and restoring it to remove any negative stain will usually require a costly and lengthy PR campaign and isn't guaranteed.
When a ValuJet flight carrying 110 people crashed in the Florida Everglades in 1996, tragically killing everyone on board, the airline suffered terrible damage to its reputation. The following year the company rebranded by purchasing a smaller company AirTran Airways, and adopting its name. Eventually, the air carrier was bought by Southwest, creating further distance from the ValuJet disaster.
This is an extreme example, but it demonstrates how sometimes the only course of action for a damaged brand is starting over under a new name.
While reactionary brand name changes do occur, the vast majority of reasons why a company would change its name are strategic.
Brand confusion is a common strategic reason for rebranding and should be considered if any of the following applies to your current business name:
This last scenario was the case for one of our clients Amaru Window Coverings, whose original name was Energy Window Fashions. When returning booking calls, their staff were often mistaken for an energy services call centre, so they reached out to Zeemo for rebranding advice.
Brand confusion is especially problematic when it occurs with other companies within your industry. If multiple brands providing similar products or services all have similar business names, or acronyms or logo style and colour, potential customers can struggle to differentiate between them and therefore, brand recognition is diluted.
Your company name makes up a decent proportion of that all-important first impression people have of your brand. If your brand name is not distinct or too ambiguous or generic, you will need to spend significantly more on marketing to stand out from your competition. You will likely be passively losing customers through brand confusion.
A great brand name should be unique and stick in the minds of your audience; boring brand names are forgettable. If your business name is too bland, generic or unmemorable, it may be time to let it go.
One prime example of a dull name choice is to use an acronym. In just about any industry, you will find hundreds of businesses using variations of any three-letter combinations and often, these letters don't provide any legitimate contextual meaning.
For instance, if I type 'ARG Consulting' into Google, I get over 3.4 million hits with businesses ranging from IT and software, HR recruiters and financial service providers to shipping and mining companies. Unless you have the marketing budget of IBM, acronyms won't give you a competitive edge.
Another example is the Plain Jane Name, wherein a business uses generic words or phrases to simply describe their industry or work – e.g. Quality Builders, Quick Car Wash, Smart Software. These types of business names aren't very helpful to customers; they don't differentiate your brand and lack any evocative quality that might inspire your audience into choosing you over a myriad of other businesses.
It can be tempting to settle with a simple descriptive name; however, to build a next-level business, you need a breakthrough brand name that causes people to sit up and take notice.
Over time businesses evolve, industries, products, and strategies change, and sometimes an original business name falls out of step with those changes.
Companies will often change names to reflect their current operation better and communicate to their consumers and investors who they are as a brand and what they're doing.
Other reasons to rename can include when a name has a geographic reference in it that is no longer relevant, or the name is in some way limiting to the business expanding into new markets, or when the name references a partner who is no longer with the company.
The most common reason for a business to rebrand is when the original business has expanded. This could be due to a merger or acquisition or because the company has grown in size and scope or has plans to include new product lines or service options.
In some instances merging businesses will be absorbed under the name of the major or more recognisable brand; however, sometimes that company name is not appropriate for the new entity and an original or modified name is required.
In our brand consultancy work, we often have clients come to us aware of their business name issues and wanting advice. While they can recognise their current name is holding them back from achieving the brand growth they want, the idea of a name change after years of trading under it can be anxiety-inducing.
It can be a complex and difficult decision to let go of a brand name you've worked hard to cultivate goodwill and invested years of equity in. However, if your business name has developed a negative association, is causing brand confusion with competitors, is uninspiring or no longer reflects your business, a new name can be a powerful catalyst for positive change.
Announcing a new name can be a great excuse to reach out and engage with your customers and can completely reinvigorate a brand that may be stagnating.
For expert help rebranding and finding your unique new company name designed for sustainability, differentiation, and impact, contact the team at Zeemo.