Is your brand struggling to stay relevant, afloat, or sinking in the marketplace? Do you feel that your brand could be capturing more market share—but it just isn’t happening on your current platforms?
Renaming your brand or changing your tagline can be a powerful strategy for brand renewal or revitalisation, but it’s not a process that should be taken lightly. Effectively pushing the reset button on your brand requires careful consideration and planning, and a sound strategy based on the right reasons.
The name of your company, product, service or range etc. is often the first thing anyone will come in contact with. It’s your first impression. The question here is, do you want your first impression with your primary audience to be something that’s interesting and helps tell your story? Or do you want something that sounds like many others, an industry or category norm but consequently has less impact because it blends in with the rest – that might be a strategic choice but often not the one most desired.
A good name is a compact easy-to-communicate piece of information, it can grab peoples attention and makes them want to know more. It can make them stop and think, laugh or smile, or let people know how you feel about the world around you. Ideally a good name should communicate one key objective, which is strongly founded on your brand promise, positioning, brand values and tailored to fit with your core customer mind set.
Image via google.com
A great brand name is vital to the success of your business. As an example of the power of a name, look to one of the most recognised and powerful brand names in the world: Google. Would the search engine giant have risen to the same heights the organisation enjoys today if they’d kept the original company name of BackRub? Perhaps unlikely—that particular brand renaming might have been one of the best ideas in history.
When creating compelling brand names for our clients we use our Nail it Naming System™. If you’re considering re-naming with some inhouse brainstorming, then here are some of the key factors that you should consider before changing your brand name or brand tagline in order to optimise the effectiveness of a re-naming brand strategy, and ensure true growth for your brand.
Reasons for Brand Renaming: Good versus Bad
The first thing you should consider with a renaming strategy is why you want to change the name of your brand, and / or use a different tagline. There are many good reasons for brand renaming—and some not-so-good reasons.
Some good reasons for changing your brand name include:
- Your brand name has damaging associations. Mistakes happen, but a mistake in business can have a substantially negative impact on your brand name. If your sales or market value are suffering because of a past problem, renaming your brand can give you the opportunity to start afresh with a clean slate.
- Your current brand name is obsolete. Every brand must stay relevant in order to be successful. If your brand name sounds old-fashioned (but not retro), a brand name change may be a good strategic decision.
- Your brand name doesn’t capture the essence of your offering. Consider the brand name Quantum Computer Services. What does that tell you about the brand? Maybe you’re thinking ‘not much’ or assuming it must be some kind of computer repair company. But when this organisation changed their name to America Online (AOL), the brand became synonymous with their service offerings.
Image via www.aol.com
- Your business has expanded beyond the original brand. If your company name originally conveyed particular founding offerings, but you’ve outgrown and expanded beyond what the brand name originally referred to, changing your brand name can help you refocus and expand to capture other larger markets further afield.
- Another brand has a similar name. This type of issue often arises for businesses that are expanding their geographical reach. If there are established businesses in new markets with a brand name that’s similar to yours, renaming your brand can help you compete in these new markets. As an example, 11-year-old Miller Insurance Group based in Florida was looking to expand nationally in the United States, but Millers Mutual already had a strong presence in the Northeast. The company rebranded to Brightway Insurance and successfully grew a national market base.
- Your company is experiencing a merger or acquisition. When two or more companies come together, there are a few different branding options. In some cases it makes sense to keep the brand name for the strongest brand—but a complete brand renaming may also be a viable option for the newly formed company.
On the other hand, here are some situations where renaming your brand may be the wrong strategy:
- Change for the sake of change: Renaming your brand because you think another name would sound better is a poor decision for change. Brand renaming should not be done on a whim—you need to invest time and resources in a brand name change in order to ensure the desired commercial returns. Changing your name without a solid strategically driven reason can also confuse or alienate your customers.
- Destroying brand equity: For brands that are already well established, changing your brand name can be incredibly risky. If your customers already have a strong association and connection with your brand name, renaming it can substantially undermine and negatively impact your business amongst existing loyal customers. Their trust in your brand can become weakened, resulting in market confusion and plummeting sales.
Evaluating Your Existing Brand Equity
Brand equity should also be a top evaluation factor for any brand considering a name change. With brand renaming, you not only risk confusing or alienating your existing customers, you could also end up with high costs for your rebranding efforts that may not deliver the desire return on your investment. For example if you have a large amount of existing brand collateral, changing your brand name can be expensive.
Your customers and transitioning them through a potential brand name change is perhaps the most important factor in your brand re-naming brand strategy. Before deciding to change your brand name, you’ll need to conduct some detailed research or a brand audit of your existing brand equity. Find out how customers really feel about your brand, what qualities do they associate with it, what do they think your brand name stands for and how much influence does your brand name have on their purchasing decisions.
If you have significant valuable brand equity, but still need to rename your brand—for reasons such as your brand name no longer appropriately reflects your offering, your business has expanded beyond your current brand name’s relevance, another brand has a similar name, or you’re being legally compelled to change the name—you should implement a transitioning strategy that will help both existing and new customers associate the new name with your original brand name thereby helping them make the move with you and reducing the potential risk of any loss of business.
As an example, U.S. based company CallCopy was launched in 2004 as a provider of call recording software. The company expanded its market and its product offerings, and recently added a complete suite of tools for workforce optimisation, providing greatly enhanced and expanded functionality beyond merely recording calls. The organisation needed a new name, because existing customers continued to associate their brand with just the original more limited offerings—but they already had strong brand recognition for their founding name in their market.
Image via www.uptivity.com
After deciding on the brand name Uptivity, the company not only created new brand collateral and physical materials like employee shirts and business cards, but also launched two parallel business websites. One used the original business name, and the other was under the Uptivity name, but branded with “formerly CallCopy.” The company kept both sites running for three months to build SEO before redirecting the CallCopy website entirely to the new Uptivity URL and phasing out the “formerly” rubric.
Choose Your New Brand Name Wisely
Google is synonymous with Internet searches, but that wouldn’t have been the case if the company had remained “BackRub”—primarily because the original name had no association with the company’s offerings and would potentially have triggered the wrong emotional response for customers.
There are many different ways to name a brand. Briefly, a few of them include:
- Founders’ names, like Cadbury or Disney
- Geographic names like Patagonia or Cisco (short for San Francisco, the company’s home base)
- Descriptive names like Whole Foods or Internet Explorer
- Evocative names that paint a picture of the brand
- Alliteration or rhyming names
- Made-up names (neologisms) like Twitter
- Hybrid names like Microsoft
- Acronyms (did you know that Yahoo! stands for Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle?)
Whatever naming convention or strategy you choose, your brand’s new name should succinctly encapsulate your offerings and capture the emotions you want customers to associate with your brand. It should be memorable, engaging, and differentiated from your competitors. Choose a brand name that is unique to your company and your platform, and your brand renaming efforts will have a much higher chance of success.
So, what do you think?
• Is your brand succeeding as a result of, or in spite of your brand name?
• If your brand is struggling, can it be attributed to your current brand name or tagline?
• Is your brand name outdated, irrelevant, or non-descriptive?
• Can your customers recognize the types of products or services you offer based on your brand name? How can you give it more meaning and relevance?
• How much brand equity do you have built into your current brand name? Does your business situation still demand a renaming?
• What brand collateral or platforms would you have to change when renaming your brand?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!