Clients ask me often, should they change business name. In fact, I’ve had it twice from clients, just this week. What’s in a business name? Turns out quite a lot!

So, should you change business name? In short, no! Not if you don’t have to. But sometimes there are extenuating circumstances. So now you’re wondering what extenuating circumstances look like?

3 good reasons you should change business name

Legal reasons

Recently a client we’d worked with for years found out they’d have to change their name because they were being sued for name usage rights by someone who’d been using the name for longer than they had (despite being a global brand with US trademarks). And the ‘wronged’ party, weren’t prepared to negotiate at all. So, that’s a pretty good reason to change business name right there.

Business direction change

Another reason to change business name is because the direction of the business has changed so significantly, the current iteration and name, won’t work for the clients you want to do business with moving forward.

A couple of years ago, a client came to us wanting to do a refresh of their brand. They wanted to target the seriously big end of town, big 4 banks, law firms, accounting firms, etc. Big, BIG end of town. Their current business was an ‘energy healing business’. Now, just to be clear, there is no judgment of energy healing here. I love Eastern philosophies.

BUT…clients pay me to tell then when things won’t work. And with a brand that screamed ‘WooWoo’, they weren’t even going to get close to the door, much less through it. And then there was their existing brand. Pink, floral and it had an image of the Buddha. ‘WOO! WOO’!

The challenge for us was to keep their brand essence, but turn it into a brand that looked like a business a bank like Westpac would do business with. So we changed the business name, gave the name an explanation that would mean something to our client’s clients, created a logo that harked back to the original essence, had a softness to it, yet was clean and functional. And we wrote all their copy. Oh and we changed the client’s title from ‘energy healer’ to CEO. In short, we built the brand from the ground up for them.

Within a week of finalising the new imagery and collateral, the client was through the door at Westpac. And just as an added bonus – when the client updated her LinkedIn profile with new business name and title, more than 100 people came out of the woodwork to congratulate her on her ‘amazing promotion’ and wanting to know what she was up to these days. Instant status and opportunities flowed.

Changing business name to get your name off the door

Now this sounds pretty rich coming from someone with their own name on the door. And I’ll let you into my dirty little secret about that. I actually hate (as in hate, loathe and despise) having my name on the door. I wanted something different originally. But in the very, very early days of KAMCT, in fact before the business even started, I wandered into a govt dept office with my chosen name and was told I couldn’t use it because of a global trademark. Nearly 10 years later, I know how to do my homework first.

But I digress. Now though, because I’ve a business that’s built some strong links in internetland over the last 6 years, people know the brand, it has a bit of a value all of its own. That makes it harder to actually ditch. I’ve had two of my own brand refreshes bubbling away in the background for at least the last 3 years. Yes, I’ve a sad case of plumber’s drip. 2017 might be the year we change across.

Just need to make sure we’re not going to hurt ourselves in the transition.

How does a business name change potentially hurt your business?

  • You might confuse you customers – ie: they could think you’ve gone out of business or merged. And that might make them more reluctant to do business with you in the future. Of course there are ways around this, but it requires some explanatory communication work upfront.
  • Your older customers might not resonate with the new brand at all. And that might be okay – maybe it’s time you or they move on. But you might lose real business in the process. Especially if the redesign is not well targeted. A change for you, might be as good as a holiday (from your brand) for them.
  • You’ll lose your position in google. All that work you put into your old brand on Google, that will cease to exist for the new brand once you change business name, which also means changing urls.
  • You could end up with two versions of your business out there. Especially if you have staff that don’t like the change or are slow to update their technology. Careful communication will also help here.
  • It’s not cheap – either in terms of money or time. There are urls to be purchased, websites to be created, logos, business cards and other collateral that need to be produced. And you need to think your way through that process or be guided by someone who’s done it a number of times previously. This is not something you do on a whim.
  • Staff might think the change is not great, the business has changed from what they originally bought into and look to leave. Again, this is something you’ll want to handle with careful internal communication.

All in all, unless you really have extenuating circumstances, you might want to rethink a change of business name – there are other ways to refresh a brand. If you do have a need to change business name or do a brand refresh, you want to make sure it’s done well. You can call us on (02) 9994 8005 or get in touch. We’d love to chat to you.

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