• Blair Brady

To rename or not to rename

With every business, there is a moment to channel Shakespeare and ask “What’s in a name?”


It’s a great question. Ideally, the answer should be value, meaning, and story. Names are powerful identifiers that often serve as the first touchpoint of the promise and experience a company provides. But what if the answer to the question is… nothing much?


Making the decision to rename your business is one not to be made lightly. You could risk losing out on valuable brand equity and momentum in your industry, but sometimes - just sometimes - a strategic new name can help reposition your company entirely, unleash new potential, and signal to customers a new era in your business. So how do you know which way to turn at the crossroads? Here are five quick tips to help you decide.


1. You’ve outgrown your shell

One of the best indicators for a new name is your business's name no longer makes sense in regards to its capabilities. It’s often a happy problem caused by substantial growth! A select group of businesses has flexible names that effectively adapt to larger capabilities as they grow, acquire new brands or expand into new industries. These brands are like turtles, because they never outgrow the shell of their name. Other businesses can be more like hermit crabs, because the shell of their name becomes restricting over time the bigger and stronger they get. So now ask yourself, is your name limiting your customer perception of what your business can do? Is your name at odds with your aspirational brand narrative? If so, it might be time to rename.


2. It’s gotten way too crowded

When it comes to competing for customers, the “winning” business most often is the business that successfully breaks free of the sea of sameness with a distinct and memorable brand experience. A unique name is the first tool in your business’s arsenal to catch your customer’s eye. When you google your business, what do you find? Imagine if you were a customer, would your business rise above the noise? If you don’t like the answers to those questions, it might be time for a rename. And if you’re still unsure, it never hurts to check the online trademark database.


3. There’s a new sheriff in town

Another opportunity for renaming comes from new leadership. Anytime there is a changing of the guards, it’s worth assessing a business’s name to determine whether or not the legacy baggage is too heavy to bring into the future. New names can act as declarations of revised vision and purpose that can create an entirely new era for any business at hand. It's a chance for a fresh(er) start with both employees and customers. So is a legacy name bringing you down? If so, it might be time to rename.


4. It’s just a bad name

Every once in a while, a business just has a bad name, and this truth can be a hard pill to swallow. Symptoms of a bad name include constant mispronunciations, limited search engine presence, new slang definitions and confusion between you and a competitor. It can also manifest in your employees and customers calling by an abbreviation or some other derivative of your name, because it’s just easier. So is your name surrounded by a thick fog of confusion, disconnect or avoidance? If so, it might be time to rename.


5. Identity theft

Perhaps the least fun reason for renaming is because another business has the same name and puts their foot down (aka Trademark issues). Even if your name is just close enough to cause the slightest ripple of confusion, there’s a chance you could be getting a cease-and-desist in the mail. But hey, you don’t want that name anyways! Your name is an opportunity to stand out amidst the competition and bear the banner of your business' unique story. So good riddance, it’s definitely time to rename.


With these five tips, you can better assess how your name compares to the current state of your business. For the most part, your business should be in good shape, as long as you remember that your business’s name should signify the unique value, meaning and story behind your brand and help you stand out from the competition.


If you are sensing the need for a new name, and you’re looking to find a partner to help, reach out to us to find out more at: info@thewithagency.com.


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