Branding: The Name Game

Posted in Branding by Les Kollegian

The art of renaming your business in 5 steps...

When the decision is made to rename your business, it’s never made lightly. On a grand scale, the catalyst for renaming could be a response to the acquisition of companies that bring new brands and new products under the corporate banner. Often times, a business outgrows its name, expanding into new products or services that didn’t exist when the company started. For many older businesses, its might be simply time to modernize their brand - and renaming is often the start of that process.

Changing a business’s name brings wide attention to the brand and the process by which the company handles the transition is key to it being a positive change in the eyes of customers and the markets they serve. Whatever the motivation to rename a company, it’s important to have a strong framework and process in place to ensure this important change is successful. For larger organizations or businesses with a complex product or business line, I’d recommend working with a firm that has a proven and definitive process for identity work and architecting brands. It’s also important to ensure a plan is in place to effectively communicate the change. Here are some smart steps for making sure your brand comes out at the tail end of a name change initiative with glowing results.

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The Brand Renaming Process

It is possible to conduct a renaming exercise on your own if you put the right people in place, however the time required to pull off the project will take significant time and tie up resources for several weeks, if not months. There are also agencies that specialize in naming, rebranding and complete brand architecture that can help lead the charge. Whichever way you go, it’s essential to follow these general steps at a minimum.

  1. First, it’s important to have an in-depth understanding of your brand, its history, the product lines and your customer demographic. You most likely have a solid grasp of these areas of your business but if you are working with an agency, ensure they insist on a “discovery” session to gain a solid baseline of knowledge on what you do, where you came from and where you want to be in the future. These energizing meetings generally involve key decision makers at your business and the creative and brand team from the selected agency. A good discovery session should dig deep into the words and descriptors that define your brand and should draw a line in the sand about the things that make your brand unique.
  2. Brainstorm name ideas that best capture the mission and/or meaning of the brand. The brainstorming session should be conducted by stakeholders across your organization in tandem with a qualified creative team possessing a solid understanding of brand architecture – these could be members of your own creative team or a qualified agency.
  3. After narrowing options down to a list of the best options from the first round, brainstorm again and come up with another round of options. From these two groups, select the best ones from each and develop rationale around the top three or four choices. The rationale should help explain what the name conveys or represents about your brand.
  4. Once narrowed down to two or three ideas, you’ll want to conduct a trademark and url search to ensure that the name is not being used by another company in your line of business or similar markets. Legal counsel may need to be utilized for more in-depth trademark searches if you’re in government or looking for guaranteed trademark protection.
  5. Next is developing an internal communication plan and PR strategy to announce the new name to the public. Internally, you’ll need to explain the need for the name change, why the particular name was chosen, and how to (and not to), use the name moving forward. A good agency partner will develop a design guide for you to share internally that explains in detail the way to use the new name/logo in print, digital and promotional tactics. This includes color, font and usage guidelines.

About Les Kollegian

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