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Do You Need a Company Name Change?

Key Takeways:

  1. Plan Carefully: Changing your company name requires meticulous planning. Identify clear reasons for the change and ensure alignment with your company’s goals. 

  2. CEO Involvement Matters: Involve your CEO throughout the process. Their leadership is essential for steering the company through the transition effectively. 

  3. Value the Process: View the renaming journey as an opportunity for growth and alignment. Engage stakeholders and foster unity throughout the transition. 

  4. Embrace Change Strategically: Approach the renaming with foresight and collaborative leadership. Adapt to market changes and emerge stronger in the evolving business landscape. 

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A Company Name Change is a Journey


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. In this guide, we’ll delve into the critical steps you need to follow to ensure a smooth and successful transition.

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. 

Take the cautionary tale of United Airlines, which rebranded as Allegis in 1987. The new name fell flat, becoming the subject of ridicule rather than admiration. 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. 


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. 


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. 






Mike Carr (00:12): 

Today I want to go through a couple key steps that you’re going to want to follow if you decide to change your company. Now, you can go to Claude three, you can go to Chachi pt, go to Google, Gemini, and a lot of the AI engines, and you can enter a query like, what steps should I follow in changing my company name? And it’s going to come back with some pretty good steps, but at least in Claude three Opus case, when I did this, the most important thing wasn’t even listed in the 10 steps. It was mentioned casually at the very end of cla three’s answer. So I want to cover two things in today’s podcast and video. So the first thing, the most important thing, do you really want to change your company name? Now, that might seem like an obvious question. Well, yeah, we wouldn’t be going through this if we didn’t really want to change our company name. 


But believe it or not, we’ve had clients come to us and the conversation goes like this. Well, the chairman of the board who’s been on the board for 25 years, spell our name is just too old. And you want something new and exciting and different. That is not the reason you need to go through a name change. So you’ve got a lot of dollars, a lot of time, and you also have the emotions surrounding it. We’ve gone through this with companies where employees have quit over a name change, customers have left the press, and the pundits and the competition have made fun of it. So I will tell you a story. We started this company in 1985, and in 1987, United Airlines announced a name change and there was a lot of anticipation of, oh, what is United Airlines going to call themselves this great new name? And they unveiled it, and it was Allegis 


Allegis. What is Allegis? I can remember one night watching Johnny Carson, who was the late night television host, come on and bring this up. And he said, did you guys know that United Airlines has changed its name to what, in my opinion, sounds like a gum disease? Allegis, United Airlines dropped Allegis and they went back to their parent company’s name, UAL corporation. And so that’s what they ended up sticking with after all that expense, all that money, all that effort, only to have that name being made fun of. So reasons to change the name include growth, and your name doesn’t really fit where you’re going or you legally, and this is important, you legally may not be able to extend your name into these new business arenas. You may bump into other people using confusingly similar names, and you then have trademark issues you’re going to have to deal with. 


Also, you want to create some new excitements and new buzz. Maybe you’ve got some new technology or new process or new product, and it’s moving the company into a direction as the leader. Whereas in the past, maybe you’ve been viewed as a follower. And so you want that name to convey, Hey, we are really now a force to be reckoned with. Step number two to effective company name changing is you have to involve your CEO. Now, we’ve seen situations where the CEO wants to change the name, but he or she is busy. And they’ll say something like, everybody just go through this and just come back to me at the end where you’ve got your top three that does not work. They might say something like, when they see the top three names, what about this? And they’ll throw out an idea that perhaps was considered and dismissed very early on. 


They may come back and say, well, I don’t like any of these. Well, they hadn’t seen the other 50, a hundred names that we had already discussed and dismissed and evaluated and debated, and they weren’t part of that discussion. So they didn’t get to participate in the journey. So another story that we actually went through, this is in the nineties, a company called amac Parks and Resorts came to us, and at the time they were managing facilities at Yellowstone National Park. In the Grand Canyon. They had a pretty poor reputation and image amongst the campers and the folks that would go to these national parks. The facilities were old, they were out of date. The grounds weren’t kept that clean. And then there was a bankruptcy. There was, I think a legal issue also associated with that name. So there was a perception problem, and then there was a legal problem that created another cloud over that name, and they brought in a new CEO. 


And he really wanted something that sounded innovative and different, and something that maybe conveyed the image and the experience that you would have going to one of these national parks. So the name that we really liked that we helped craft was Zantara. So Zantara was born and he championed that name throughout the organization. So they’ve ended up being a very successful organization. So just to recap the two things from today, make sure you have a compelling reason to change the name. Oh yeah, sounds obvious, but it’s not always. And make sure the CEO is involved at every step of the journey, and you will have a very successful outcome compared to going down some of the other paths that are going to take you down the wrong direction. 


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