The Name Change Dilemma: Is It Time for a New Identity?

Renaming your business is no small task. After all, your brand name serves as the cornerstone of your brand identity. It's how people remember you; It's how they refer to you; It’s what differentiates you; and it’s what encapsulates your brand essence.

A strong business name does more than just identify your business; it conveys something meaningful about your brand to both existing and potential customers. Yet, as trends come and go and business objectives change, there are times when changing your brand’s name becomes a necessity to staying relevant, authentic and competitive.

Altering your brand’s name is a major decision that comes with its fair share of risks and challenges. It’s absolutely essential to approach this process thoughtfully and take steps to minimise potential pitfalls for a smooth and successful transition.

Signs it’s time for a name change

1. A change in strategy. If you’ve recently revamped your brand strategy, there’s a chance that your brand name no longer reflects your business objectives and values. In fact, it might even hinder your progress in achieving your long-term goals. 

If your goal is to broaden your brand’s influence and create a brand identity that stands the test of time and resonates universally, it’s essential to avoid a name that’s closely associated with a particular era or place. Such ties can constrain the overall relevance of your brand.

2. Not meeting accessibility standards. Beyond being eye-catching and representative of your brand’s values, it’s crucial to assess how accessible your brand name is. If your brand name is difficult to spell – or pronounce – contains acronyms that only insiders can understand, or hinders clarity, it’s wise to explore alternative naming options.

3. Out of touch. As trends evolve and customer preferences shift, the relevance of your brand name can also change with them. Pause for a moment and consider whether your brand name seems out of touch, carries negative associations, or no longer fits the current context. If any of these questions is yes – you know what to do.

4. Bad press. Few things can harm your reputation as severely as a bout of negative publicity. Once your name has been stained, repairing your reputation can be an uphill battle. Choosing a new brand name offers you a chance to create distance from the negativity and start fresh.

5. Misleading. An inaccurate name doesn’t just lead the wrong audience to your business, it creates confusion among customers about your company’s core services. If your name sends the wrong message about your brand and misguides your intended audience, it’s a clear signal that it might be time to consider rebranding.

Potential pitfalls: What to watch out for when making a change

1. Managing change internally: Cultivating support and adoption.

Internal buy-in and enthusiastic adoption are the cornerstones of a successful name transformation, so it’s imperative to get your employees on-side. Be sure to articulate your vision clearly, engage key stakeholders, and provide necessary training and support. 

2. The internal rollout and time commitment

Renaming your brand can be incredibly time-consuming. Consider crafting a comprehensive roadmap that delineates the sequence of actions and gives priority to crucial tasks, to help you streamline and manage time effectively. 

3. Name availability: Ensuring viability across trademarks, domains, and social media

Before you dive in, it’s imperative to conduct thorough viability assessments. Verify that your ideal name is available for trademark registration, secure the corresponding domain name, and confirm the accessibility of relevant social media handles. Overlooking these steps can lead to legal complications and online identity issues, so be sure not to cut any corners.  

4. Safeguarding Google rankings: Collaborating with SEO experts

To safeguard your Google rankings, collaborate with experienced SEO professionals and skilled web developers to ensure that all essential technical redirects are in place and your site is optimised for efficient search engine crawling. 

5. Tackling operational changes 

It’s always essential to carry out a thorough operations audit to identify any areas that require changes or adjustments. Whether it’s the need to update your directory listings or your systems and software, the key is to create a well-organised plan that enables you to systematically tackle the necessary changes impacted by the name change.

6. Shaping customer perception

To ensure a smooth transition that upholds consistency and keeps your audience well-informed, communication is key. Notify your customers of the change, provide insight into the reasons behind it, and reassure them about the continuity of your products or services. Consider building out a messaging matrix and launch plan to ensure everything is clearly communicated, that’s the winning formula.

Name transformation triumphs: success stories 

1. Lullaby Trust (Formerly FSID – Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths)

Before: The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID) was certainly informative, but it was rather lengthy, carried some negative associations, and didn’t truly capture the essence of their brand mission.

Reason for change: The organisation rebranded as the Lullaby Trust to create a warmer, softer and more emotionally resonant brand image, reflecting their focus on preventing sudden infant deaths.

Results: The name transformation allowed them to connect with a wider audience and raise awareness about their vital mission, ultimately leading to increased support for their cause. 

2. Age UK (Formerly Help the Aged and Age Concern)

Before: Help the Aged was a well-known charity focused on elderly welfare. Age Concern also provided practical support while running campaigns on issues such as age discrimination and pensions.

Reason for change: In 2009, Age Concern and Help the Aged merged to form Age UK. The rebranding aimed to create a unified, single body that could improve the lives of the elderly. Chiefly, it recognised that its mission was not just about helping the elderly but also celebrating and supporting the positive aspects of ageing.

Results: The change boosted their appeal and engagement among a broader demographic, making their services more accessible to seniors while increasing donations and volunteer participation.

3. Subway

Before: When it started out as a brand in 1965, Subway was actually known as Pete’s Super Submarines. 

Reason for Change: However – as you might have guessed – the name was often misunderstood to sound like ‘pizza marines’ during radio and broadcasting. Almost ten years later – after several other attempted names – the brand changed its name to Subway. The name change aimed to simplify and modernise the brand, making it more memorable and easier to market as a global franchise.

Results: Renaming to Subway contributed significantly to their global success, with thousands of stores worldwide. Their globally recognised name has now synonymous with quick, customisable sandwiches.

4. Microsoft Azure (Formerly Windows Azure)

Before: In its early days, Microsoft’s cloud service was known as Windows Azure. However, this name linked it closely to the Windows operating system.

Reason for change: To broaden its horizons and reach a wider audience beyond the Windows realm, the decision was made to rebrand it as Microsoft Azure.

Results: The name change allowed Microsoft Azure to thrive as a leading cloud computing platform, embracing a wider range of customers, including businesses and developers who use diverse technologies.

Looking to change your name? 

Your brand name matters. Not only does it shape your success but plays a pivotal role in securing your brand’s future. We will help you to craft an impactful and memorable name that leaves an indelible mark.

If you’d like our help renaming your brand, drop us a line to discuss how we can help.

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