10 Marketing Questions to Ask Before Changing Your Company Name

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10 Marketing Questions to Ask Before Changing Your Company Name

Are you thinking about renaming your company?

As a marketing consultant, I’m often asked whether a company name change is a good idea.  If your current name no longer fits who you are or what you do … if your marketplace or customer base has changed dramatically … or if your name is too vague, too cumbersome, or too close to a competitor’s identity to effectively differentiate you in the marketplace … a name change can be a smart marketing move.

A new name can help your customers, prospects, and competitors see you in a new light. It also can help you make a splash in the marketplace and get media attention.

But changing your company name is a major undertaking that requires substantial marketing resources. Before you take the plunge, you must be sure you have the right name and a smart marketing strategy to deploy it.

Here are 10 strategic marketing questions to ask yourself when selecting a new name for your company:

  1. Does the new name feel authentic? Does it convey who you are and what you do? Does it feel like it fits your organization – and only your organization?
  2. Does the new name articulate your value? Does the name communicate what’s unique about your company and its value proposition?
  3. Does the new name differentiate you in your industry? Will the new name set you apart from all your competitors? Will it make people take a fresh look at you?
  4. Is the new name the right foundation for your vision going forward? Does the name make a statement about where your organization is headed?
  5. Is the new name easy to pronounce? This is especially important if you’re creating a new word for your company name, like Exxon or Altria. Ask 10 people to say the new name out loud 10 times. If it doesn’t easily roll off the tongue, reconsider.
  6. Is the new name easy to remember? The reason you’re developing a new identity is to have more impact in the marketplace. Your new name should be something people will remember.
  7. Does the name have staying power? Will your new name be the right identity for your organization for at least the next decade and perhaps much longer?
  8. Will the new name make sense to your target audience? People who know you should say, “Yes, I see why they did that – what a good idea.”  People who don’t know you should say, “Yes, I understand what they’re about.” Test the new name on a few customers and prospects to be sure it doesn’t confuse them.
  9. Can your staff explain why you’re changing your name? Everyone on your staff will be asked, “Why did you change your company name?” All employees should know the rationale for the name change and be able to articulate it.
  10. Have you developed a marketing plan to deploy the new name? A name change is a great marketing opportunity. To take full advantage of it, you’ll need a comprehensive branding and marketing strategy with integrated marketing campaigns that are effectively deployed.

A final tip: When to use your own name. If you are well regarded in your industry – or you’re in marketing, consulting, law, accounting, or another professional services business where personal names are commonly used as brands – your own name might be the right name to pick.

If your name is hard to pronounce, figure out how to use the difficulty of the name as a marketing tactic. Our company name, Gianfagna, rhymes with “lasagna.” The “lasagna” reference always gets a smile and helps people learn how to say it. And our marketing tagline – “Tricky Name. Terrific Results” – helps prospects understand why they should remember us.

  • Craig

    Hi Jean,
    Another consideration; is the URL available?

    The web makes it so much easier to do this type of research now so we can make sure potential company names are unique.


    November 1, 2010 at 9:19 am
  • Kevin Delaney

    Companies tend to develop multiple brands on the market these days. Before renaming a company, one should consider what to do with the old name. In many cases, the company will demote the old name to a brand. Some will use it for a subsidiary, holding company or just a brand.

    Before renaming a company, I think it worthwhile to look at the relation between the new name and the old name. If there is an interesting relation between the new and old name, one should take advantage of it.

    BTW, I’ve noticed many companies go about a name change through a series of steps. They secure and trademark the new name. They establish the new name as a brand. If it is accepted in the market as expected, they change the name of the whole company.

    January 7, 2011 at 2:24 pm
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