Change your business name the smart way

To remain fresh and relevant to customers, businesses must be prepared to adapt. That could mean adding products or services that are in demand, or removing offerings that aren’t profitable anymore. In some cases, it may mean changing the name of a business to give it an exciting new identity.

A name change may feel like a formidable task, but many businesses have found that adopting a new name is an important step in reaching the next level of success. The process involves more than just putting a new label on your business, however. Here are five things to keep in mind as you give your business a new identity. 

1. Choose a name that means something — and does something

No matter what you choose, the new name of your business should have a deeper significance and create a positive effect on customer perception. The new name could tell a story that involves the history of your brand, or it could be a word or phrase that signifies the type of work that you do or the key benefit you deliver to customers. Some name changes might take several of these factors into account. In the end, the new name should be something memorable that potential clients and customers will recognize immediately upon seeing or hearing it. Some name changes simply serve to make a generic-sounding business stand out from the competition.

Some of the most well-known brands in the world were started under different names, and changed to evolve with the marketplace and consumer tastes. For example, a certain electronics retailer was originally named “Sound of Music” when it was founded in 1966. As the company expanded beyond high-fidelity stereos to offer great values on an array of products, they had to adapt with a new name. Thus “Best Buy” was born in 1983. The Subway restaurant chain originally started as “Pete’s Super Submarines,” but later showcased a more concise brand name that could be captured in a simple, memorable logo and stood out from the endless variations of mom-and-pop sandwich stores and delis.

2. Make your legal moves

When you change the name of your business, there are many legal implications to consider, as this guide from the Small Business Administration makes clear. For example, if you operate as a sole proprietor, you might consider registering your business as a corporation now to help avoid hassle later. You must also communicate the changes with your banks and credit card companies, and get updated credit and debit cards. You may also need to do a trademark search to make sure your prospective new name is even available. Finally, make sure that your tax and other legal documents are up to date. 

3. Tell customers early and often

Your customer base is the core of your business, so you need to communicate the name change to that base well in advance. If you decide to make a name change, it’s best to begin alerting customers a few months in advance in order to avoid potential confusion. You may need to explain to some customers and partners know why you’re making the change. There are many people who have trouble dealing with change, and in these cases, you’ll want to inform customers and partners why the new name is a better match for your brand or business.

4. Update your marketing

Along with your physical storefront, your marketing materials serve as the face of your business. If you’re changing your business name, you’ll need to change all of your marketing materials as well. This includes your business checks, your website and social media marketing, and any other items such as print advertising or promotional products. In addition, many businesses opt to update their logo when making a name change, which can help deliver the aura of a completely fresh start.

5. Focus on customer service

If you’re looking to change the name of your business, you most likely believe the new moniker makes more sense for the products or services you offer. Customers may appreciate that fact, but in the end, the most important thing that customers look for is quality service. Any transition period can face its share of speed bumps; one way to avoid this when it comes to your name change is to make sure you keep delivering quality products and customer service. After all, that’s what will encourage customers to return and keep your business humming.

Like any important business decision, changing the name of your company takes careful thought and planning to ensure the execution goes as smoothly as possible. Your brand’s new name and identity herald an exciting fresh start, so be sure to follow these steps to make your transition as successful as possible.

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