“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” -Shakespeare
Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet were doomed the moment they fell in love. Their surnames represented the histories, relationships and values that defined the animosity between the two families. While their names were no more than a string of letters, it was what the names represented that led the star-crossed lovers to their downfall. To put it another way, we can say their individual family brands spoke louder than their names.
Today, over 400 years after Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet, the same could be said about a company’s brand and name. A company’s name is what the public sees, and therefore must be representative of the company’s brand. Unfortunately, the rise of social media, rapid technological changes and increase in global commerce can easily distort public perception around a business’ name.
Thus, to ensure a business name remains representative of a brand, it is important for a company to have a strong brand identity that reaches to the core values and provides continuity between past, present and future.
A Compelling Case Study
The power of a name was demonstrated earlier this year when Time Warner changed its name to Spectrum. Time Warner has suffered through years with a negative reputation for being a company that doesn’t value customer service. Interminable waits for in-home service and hours on the phone had left the company with a dwindling client base and terrible public opinions.
At the start of 2017 Time Warner Cable officially rebranded to Spectrum, and what a difference that made! Time Warner, which was recently acquired by Charter Communications Inc., aggressively promoted the new name of “Spectrum” and wiped the name “Time Warner” from every piece of physical and digital platform in existence. In just a few short months, Spectrum’s customer satisfaction index nearly tripled.
All of this was accomplished by changing their name from Time Warner Cable to Spectrum. The new name, free of negative associations, gave the company a fresh start and the chance to rebuild its brand into one with a strong identity and a positive, customer-first approach.
Only time will tell if Spectrum will succeed; six months after Spectrum’s name change their customer service index began to dip again. This is a great example of how a name change alone may work for a short period of time, however, without changing the meaning behind the name – the brand purpose – a company is doomed to face the same pitfalls as before.
Therefore, when a business decides to change its name, leaders must first take a hard look at the company’s purpose.
It’s Time for a Change
In the past few months, four of our clients have decided to change their names. The companies had varying histories— one with two decades in business, a start-up biotech company and the others with less than ten years.
With each of these clients we worked together through our three-stage branding process. The results helped reshape their brand and positioning.
|New Name||Old Name|
|Vital Digital||HigherPowered SEO|
|StudioWC Architecture and Engineering||Webb Cleff Architecture and Engineering|
|KNA Structural Engineers||KNA Consulting Engineers|
“It’s not about the name. It’s about what you put behind the brand and the effort and the position you hold in your prospect’s mind. Make sure you get a name that people can live with; that’s where the work begins, not where it ends.”
When we help companies rebrand, we do more than just change their name; we also help them ensure that the new name is representative of their brand identity. For example, the change from KNA Consulting Engineers to KNA Structural Engineers may be subtle, but we also changed their logo, website and tagline to better represent the message they wanted their brand to represent.
We went through a name change ourselves last year, and throughout the process we learned much about what works and what doesn’t. While the name is only the first step in the rebranding process, it is still a very important one! We have compiled some tips to consider if you’re interested in changing your company name.
- Can you pronounce it? Choose a name that can be easily spoken. It’s a pain when people ask, “how do you say it?”
- Is it easily spelled? Make sure your name isn’t difficult to spell, as it’s annoying for both parties when people keep asking, “How do you spell it?”
- Avoid hyphens. Having a name with a hyphen causes a lot of issues, especially online.
- Beware of competitor names. Choose a name that is not in conflict with a business that does the same kind of work or has similar product(s).
- Avoid acronyms. Unless the company has years of brand equity using an acronym, they don’t communicate the company’s personality. (However, acronyms are common in the AEC – Architecture, Engineering, and Construction industry. So using a well-known format, such as an acronym, clients are comfortable seeing that style.)
- Watch emotions. Not everyone in the company has to like the name, but it needs to stand for something.
- Be creative with your domain. One of the most difficult tasks is to find a domain name that isn’t taken. Using .net, .io or other extensions can give you the domain you need. Keep them as short as possible. Check out 101domain.com for all the available extensions.
Of course, a full rebranding requires far more considerations than just the name. It can achieve many business goals in addition to getting away from a poor reputation. If you’re interested about how rebranding can help you, check out this article about 13 common problems rebranding can resolve!