The “When” and “How” of Changing Your Business Name and Re-Branding

Can you relate to one of these statements?:

“My clients are so accustomed to my business’ name, I am afraid they won’t know me if I change the business name, but I think I need to…Should I change my business’ name?”

“How should I let my clients know I’m changing names?”

The questions of when and how to re-brand come up a lot here at GIFTE. If these questions have come up for you, then I am here to help. In this article, I am going to share my advice on 1) when to rebrand, and 2) how to go about it.

1) When to Re-Brand or Change Your Business Name

There is no black and white answer to this question. Most of the time, I tell people to go with their gut. I believe that deep down, beneath the fear and discomfort, there is a true answer for you. There are also times when it IS black and white. In an effort to be of most assistance, here are two guidelines for you to follow:

A) Yes, change your name if your current name is out of alignment with your message and thus is confusing. For example, if your business name is “Italy by Design” and you are taking your business in a new direction and focusing on romance travel throughout the world, then a name change would be a good idea. Imagine how confusing it would be to a prospect wanting to honeymoon in Hawaii receiving information from you and your business, Italy by Design.

B) Yes, change your name if it gives the impression that this is a hobby and not a business you are taking seriously. Another way I’ve been known to say this is “don’t be cute.” Instead, be clear. I’ve seen a LOT of cute travel names. When it comes to naming a travel business, people can tap into their creative nature a little too much. Sometimes, they tap so much into their creative juices that the prospect has no idea what the name means or it comes off overly cute. Cute is for toddlers, puppies, kittens, and pre-school performances. Cute is NOT for a business you take seriously and want others to take seriously too. Your name is sometimes the only opportunity to make an impression on someone. Don’t mess up that tiny window of opportunity with a cute name. How do you know if your name is too cute? Ask people. And then don’t take their feedback personally.

2) How to Re-Brand

One of the travel business consulting packages we offer focuses on rebranding. Here I will generally outline the sequence of events we advise for people who are changing their business name and rebranding. These are the steps that would take place AFTER you have decided upon a new name.

Step 1: File a Doing Business As (DBA). Only do this if you have a bank account in your business’ old name and your checks get made out to the old name. You don’t have to set up a separate legal entity when changing your business name. All you have to do is file a DBA and then take that to your bank so you can accept checks made out to either business name. This is a very simple, one page process you can do yourself. I recommend doing it online using LegalZoom.com.

Step 2: Get your logo designed. If you are changing the look of your marketing materials in conjunction with the new name, start with a new logo. Once you have a logo designed, that will dictate the look of your marketing materials. Where you get your logo designed is up to you. You can follow a very traditional path of using a local graphic designer. Or you can use one of the thousands of online services to design your logo. Ask around for recommendations. At GIFTE, we have had some members in our community have great luck with a service called 99 Designs. This service is a little different as multiple designers basically “bid” for your logo design by submitting multiple designs. Eventually, you choose the one you like best and the designer who gets chosen gets paid for it.

Step 3: Incorporate your logo and the look of it with your marketing materials. This could include (but is not limited to) your website, business card, stationery, e-zine template and email signature.

Step 4: Notify your clients. This is the step most people stress over. In all honesty, it’s not a big deal and doesn’t need to be a big event. Your clients will adjust. I promise. Some ways to notify your clients include: write a warm letter and send it, via snail mail, to them; mention the new name in your weekly electronic newsletter, and write a press release. But wait until the marketing materials are ready before you notify them.

Your Assignment:

If you are considering a name change and re-branding, the best advice I can give you is to make a decision. This may not sound all that insightful, but sitting on the fence for years on something like this will drain your energy and passion. So just make a decision and live with it. If the decision is to change the name, then use these steps as your guideline and sequence for moving through and loving the process. If you are unsure about changing your name and you are a GIFTE member, feel free to call into the Monthly Mentoring with Meredith on the 3rd Tuesday of the month at 4pm and ask me! I will be happy to give you my advice.

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