Changing Your Business Name – Checklist
Sometimes a company name needs to change, perhaps due to an expanded business or a change of direction, or simply because the original name isn’t working out. But changing the name of a business is not a simple matter. There are many factors to consider, from reprinting physical material to keeping customers fully informed and aware of this fundamental change to your brand. There are also legal factors to take into account, as well as preparing to rebuild your brand’s reach and recognisability. Whatever the reason for the change of moniker, its important to prepare well before, and follow a checklist during this crucial transition. Here are some things to think about.
With such a big, fundamental change to your business, you need to plan and prepare thoroughly. Changing your name is no small matter, and the more extensive your preparations, the less retroactive changes you will need to make (and these changes can be embarrassing or even legally problematic. Research your chosen name to check that the trademark is available, and there are no clashes with other brands, particularly direct competitors. Budgeting is important – you will have to pay to change your name with local regulatory authorities in your country or region. You’ll also have to take into account costs such as domain name changes, marketing and branded materials. And a really important part of the planning is ensuring your new name fits your company – once you change it you’re going to have to stick with it for some time. Take some time to get this last point right!
First of all, you need to make sure that there is no legal reason why you can’t use your chosen name. Other legal factors include updating terms and conditions for customers, discussing with your bank whether or not you need to change account names (will it be easier to manage invoices, refunds, and employee salaries?), employee contracts will need to be adjusted to reflect the new name, and if you rent a premises your landlord will need to see the change of name certification you have secured from your local authority.
Marketing is a big part of name changes. You will want to try to maintain some of the brand recognition your company has. That usually means a sense of continuity from one set of marketing materials to the next. An established logo should not necessarily be discarded, even if the brand name next to it is radically different. Social media profiles will all need to be updated, and social media is the perfect place to make a lot of noise about your name change. Your printed materials, such as stationary, business cards, posters, and other marketing tools will all need to be redesigned and reprinted. You will need to buy a new domain name for both your website and your company emails, and the website content will need to be completely refreshed.
A major reason why many companies are reluctant to change their name, even if they should, is that they perceive that any customer base they have built up will be compromised. But by making major announcements across all channels of communication, such as email lists, social media, outdoor advertising, and good old fashioned snail mail, you can make you’re renaming an event in itself. Instead of minimizing the damage to your brand, see it as an opportunity for an all-out, multi-channel marketing campaign. And it goes without saying, but keep your employees informed about the changes too!
If your company needs to change its name to fit a new image, it is better to take action sooner rather than later. But don’t dive in without preparation, or without a thorough checklist. It will make the task much simpler.