a collection of dear ammonista q+a

When is it time to change a business name?

   How do I evaluate when (or if) to change my business name?  Our original name isn’t as relevant to the business as it once was – and new senior staff members are interested in changing it.  That said, I’ve always been taught that consistency is critical.  Can you weigh in?   

Dear Ammonista,

How do I evaluate when (or if) to change my business name? Our original name isn’t as relevant to the business as it once was – and new senior staff members are interested in changing it. That said, I’ve always been taught that consistency is critical. Can you weigh in?    Concerned in Connecticut

Dear Concerned,

As a general rule in branding, a name change should be a very considered decision and should not be taken lightly. However, if desire for strategic reasons, it can be a great opportunity to signal new thought leadership or change at a company.  

Here’s the questions I would ask myself when evaluating:

1 . How much history, equity and reputation is in my current name?   

2. How relevant is the name to my business now?  Does it have enough headroom for my future as well?

If there is little history or traction with your current name – and you have some strategic reasons for considering a change (i.e. new partners, new products/markets, new story) – then by all means, consider a new handle.  

But as a general rule, people overestimate the power of their company name itself – really, it’s the ‘meaning’ (promise, products, culture, story) we put behind the name that makes all the difference.  For example, “Dr. Scholls” and “Dr. Martens”, look like the same name on paper. However, due to their products and story, and the way the individual companies created the ‘meaning’ behind the name, they have very different reputations and perceptions as a company.

In the end, the real question you want to ask when considering a name change is ‘why’?  If simply because you’re bored or you simply want to ‘change it up’, resist the temptation.  You can always enhance your brand story in new, fresh and relevant ways without losing the reputation equity in your name.  ~Ammonista


This post is featured in The Ammonista Report - Winter 2014: quarterly inspiration to help people and companies create brands of significance. Subscribe Here.