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Naming Strategy

Do You Need a Company Name Change?

By January 21, 2020May 15th, 2024No Comments

Key Takeways:

  • Plan Carefully: Changing your company name requires meticulous planning. Identify clear reasons for the change and ensure alignment with your company’s goals.
  • CEO Involvement Matters: Involve your CEO throughout the process. Their leadership is essential for steering the company through the transition effectively.
  • Value the Process: View the renaming journey as an opportunity for growth and alignment. Engage stakeholders and foster unity throughout the transition.
  • Embrace Change Strategically: Approach the renaming with foresight and collaborative leadership. Adapt to market changes and emerge stronger in the evolving business landscape.



A Company Name Change is a Journey

Can a company change its name? Of course. Should a company change its name? Let’s just say it’s not something you should do on a whim.

There can be crucial advantages to making a name change. But the process of changing a company name and rebuilding around it can be a major headache, and you have to decide if your business name change has more to lose or gain by taking the big leap.

Embarking on a journey to change your company’s name is no small feat. It involves more than just brainstorming new ideas or picking a catchy moniker. It requires careful consideration, strategic planning, and involvement from key stakeholders.

Multicultural team sitting at a table, reviewing paperwork and collaborating.

Why Changing Your Business Name Is a Big Deal

Building a brand takes an investment of effort, time, and money. Over the course of even just a few years, a company name accumulates audience awareness and preference. Changing it to new business name could mean starting from scratch in the brand recognition and equity department.

Most companies undergo rebranding at some point; it’s part of surviving in a swiftly evolving marketplace. However, it’s important to note the difference between a refresh and a rebrand.

Refresh v. Rebrand

A refresh is more like a touch-up. It’s about making small changes to keep things interesting without completely changing who you are. It’s about staying current and appealing to customers without starting from scratch. A website redesign or an updated logo can be refreshing to your target. And your audience won’t find it jarring unless it’s too drastic a change or happens to be an eyesore.

But a name change doesn’t fall into the same category as a minor rebrand because it requires an entire reintroduction to your business entity to your audience and partners.

A rebrand is like a complete makeover for a company. It involves changing not just the name but also things like the logo, messaging, and even the target audience. For example, if a company named “Tech Solutions” decides to rebrand as “Digital Innovators,” it might mean they’re shifting from just offering tech services to being seen as cutting-edge pioneers in the digital world. Rebranding is a big, strategic move that aims to give the company a whole new identity.

There are also costs such as filing fees associated with making the change, from filing and legally staking a claim to the new name to dedicating resources to its launch in order to ensure its success.

If you do decide to take the plunge, it needs to be a highly strategic and informed decision. Don’t change your company name simply because it’s a few decades old and your board members think it’s a bit stale. Do it because it’s undoubtedly the best move for your small business.

Office colleagues gathered around a table for a meeting, engaged in a discussion.

Do You Really Want to Change Your Company Name?

Before diving headfirst into the process of renaming your company, it’s crucial to pause and ask yourself: Do you really want to change your company name? While it might seem like a straightforward decision, there are significant implications involved. Changing your company name entails not only financial investments but also emotional and reputational considerations. We’ve witnessed scenarios where companies rush into a name change for superficial reasons, only to face backlash and regret later.

A Cautionary Tale: United Airlines

United Airlines rebranded as Allegis in 1987. The new name fell flat, becoming the subject of ridicule and comparison to a gum disease rather than admiration for the new name.

This underscores the importance of thoroughly evaluating the reasons behind a name change. Factors such as company growth, expansion into new markets, or legal constraints may justify a rebranding effort. However, it’s essential to weigh these factors against the potential risks and consequences.

 Compelling Reasons to Change Your Company Name

A reinvention of business name can be a tactical, logical move for your company. Here are a few reasons you might want to go ahead and make a bold renaming move:

Legal issues

The trademarking process is complex, and not all companies have a handle on the consequences of the name they’ve chosen until they start using it. In cases where legal issues like trademark conflicts or regulatory restrictions arise, changing your company name becomes imperative to operate without legal hurdles. It protects your brand’s integrity and allows for smooth business operations within legal boundaries.

If you are facing challenges such as trademark infringement or unexpected likelihood of confusion, that’s a valid reason to explore other options. Even if legal challenges aren’t a factor, you don’t want to be living in another company’s shadow due to the similarity of your names, and you don’t want to have to out-spend your competitors just to distinguish yourself.

Reputation recovery

Just like people, companies make mistakes. Sometimes the only way to progress and continue to grow after a public misstep or failure is to rebuild your brand from the ground up. You want to choose a name that demonstrates the different approach you’re taking to business, and one that establishes trust with your audience.

A name change can inject new energy and excitement into your brand, attracting attention from customers, media, and industry peers. It presents an opportunity for marketing campaigns, announcements, and events that showcase your brand’s evolution and future direction.

A well-chosen name that resonates with your target audience, aligns with your brand values, and communicates your unique selling propositions can enhance brand recognition, credibility, and market positioning, giving you an edge over competitors.

Growth and expansion

If your company is expanding, venturing into new products or services, completely changing its focus, or all of the above, a name change can help steer it smoothly in the new direction. Changing your company name can reflect the expansion and growth of your business, signaling to stakeholders and customers that you’re entering a new phase of development. This is especially relevant if your business has outgrown its current name due to increased offerings, locations, or market presence.

If your company acquires another business or merges with a partner, a name change can help integrate both entities under a unified brand identity. It avoids confusion among stakeholders and presents a cohesive image to the market, showcasing the combined strengths and offerings.

Changing your business approach doesn’t always require a name change — Southwest Airlines, for example, has grown far beyond its initial mission of serving the Southwest United States, but the name still works. However, what works for one company may not necessarily work for another, and major growth or expansion is often a legitimate cause for a company name change.

A professional man demonstrates balance and precision while standing on wooden blocks, representing business acumen.

Okay you’ve decided to change your company name…. now what?

When changing your company name, it’s important to follow a systematic process to ensure a smooth transition and to protect your brand. Here are the key steps to follow:

  1. Conduct thorough research: Conduct an availability check to make sure your new name isn’t already in use, is available as a web domain, and doesn’t have any negative connotations in other languages or cultures.
  1. Check legal requirements: Each state (county clerk’s office) and country has different regulations for changing a company’s legal name. Consult with a lawyer to ensure you’re following all necessary legal procedures with the appropriate government agencies.
  1. Get stakeholder input: Discuss the name change with key stakeholders, including employees, investors, and major customers. Their feedback can help refine your strategy.
  1. Develop a rebranding plan: Create a detailed plan that outlines the timeline, budget, and responsibilities for the name change process.
  1. Design new brand assets: Create a new logo, website, business cards, and other marketing materials that reflect your new name and brand identity.
  1. Secure digital assets: Register the new domain name and create new social media profiles to secure your digital presence.
  1. Communicate the change: Announce the name change to your employees, customers, partners, and the public. Explain the reasons behind the change and what it means for them.
  1. Update legal and financial documents: Change your company name on all legal documents, including business registration, licenses, contracts, and bank accounts. You may also need to change your employer identification number depending on your business entity type – see here for more information from the IRS- internal revenue service.
  1. Implement across all touchpoints: Update your name and branding across all customer touchpoints, including your website, email addresses, invoices, and product packaging.
  1. Monitor and adjust: After the name change, monitor feedback from customers and the public. Be prepared to make adjustments to your branding or communications if necessary.


Business colleagues gathered around a whiteboard, engaged in a strategy meeting.

Involving Your CEO: A Critical Step

Once you’ve established a compelling reason to change your company name, the next crucial step is to involve your CEO from the outset. While it may seem obvious, overlooking the CEO’s involvement can derail the entire renaming process. CEOs bring invaluable perspective, insight, and authority to the table. Their buy-in is essential not only for decision-making but also for fostering alignment and support across the organization.

Imagine a scenario where the CEO is sidelined until the final stages of name selection. Their absence from earlier discussions leaves room for misalignment and misunderstandings. They may propose alternative names that have already been considered and dismissed, leading to unnecessary delays and disagreements. To avoid such pitfalls, ensure that the CEO is actively engaged in every step of the renaming journey.


A Xanterra brand logo with the tagline "Legendary Hospitality with a Softer Footprint" in front of a red rock canyon cliff

Case Study: The Transformation of Amfac Parks and Resorts

A compelling example of CEO involvement in a successful rebranding effort is the case of Amfac Parks and Resorts, a company managing facilities in national parks. Faced with a tarnished reputation and legal challenges, the company sought a fresh start under new leadership. The CEO spearheaded the renaming initiative, championing a name that reflected the company’s values and aspirations.

The result? Xanterra—a name derived from “Xanadu,” symbolizing serenity and bliss, and “Terra,” evoking the natural beauty of the Earth. By actively leading the renaming process, the CEO rallied support and instilled confidence in the new brand identity. Today, Xanterra thrives as a testament to the power of CEO involvement in company name changes.

How Can NameStormers Help a Company Change Its Name?

If you’ve thought through the implications of changing your company name and decided it’s the right approach, allow us to be of assistance. Our process involves getting to know you as a client and developing a deep understanding of why the current name isn’t cutting it.

We start NameStorming with your company’s identity and ambitions in mind. We then put the viable candidates from our ideating phase through an extensive form of preliminary trademark screening, using tools that trademark lawyers use. Additionally, we run a web screening and linguistic viability screening in order to narrow down business names on the list to only those that meet our lofty expectations. Finally, we present you with our top contenders. If you don’t fall in love with our list, we’ll repeat the process as many times as it takes.

Whatever the reason for your name change, we can help provide you with fresh enthusiasm and confidence for the future of your company. Get in touch with us today.

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