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What's In Your Name?

Feb 1, 2007

Naming a business is a little like naming a child: You only get one shot. Well, not necessarily. Lots of children change their names, or switch to a nickname at some point in their lives. The consequences are rarely dire, and often they make a better fit.

Businesses grow and change, too. There are times when a business can benefit by changing its name. This is not a step to be taken lightly, however. Following are some factors to consider when pondering a potential change in the name of your business.

How complicated is the name? Names that are hard to spell or pronounce, or utilize some pun or trick spelling, may seem to be smart. But if customers tend to mispronounce it or can't remember it, it's probably not a good idea. It's best to pick a name that's easy to recognize, remember, spell and pronounce.

Does the name fit with the store's image? Often young, successful entrepreneurs come up with a trendy name for their store or business. That not only makes it memorable, but also connects with a particular target market. But what happens if the trend fades, and the target market grows up? Pity all those Sixties children named after a star or a rock group, and look for something that will stand the test of time.

Is the name too generic? If your company name is too similar to a competitor's, you may be due for a change that differentiates you from your neighbor. Write down the names of competitors' stores, and see how yours compares. Ideally, it will be distinctive, and set forth the image you want and signify the types of products you sell.

Can you afford to change your name? Changing a company name does not come cheap. It involves changing the sign on the door and a whole lot more: business cards, ads, marketing materials, logos and stationery. Add to that the legal fees involved, if you are incorporated. Tally up the projected costs, and see if the rewards will at least cover the investment.

How much brand equity resides in your existing company name? If a lot of customers, prospects and others know and recognize your name, you have equity, and the name has value. If your company has low recognition and little brand equity, a name change may bring benefits. But if your local brand equity has grown and spread, changing the name could cost more than it's worth.

Would a name change bring new enthusiasm to you, your staff and your customer base? A name change certainly can represent an opportunity to promote, gain recognition and reinvigorate your business. If you develop a name that suits you, your business and your company culture, consider from the start how you will maximize the impact of a name change. Think of a grand reopening, for example, and look for additional ways to combine the new name with promotions.

Information in this article was edited from a story in Entrepreneur.

Topic: Business Strategies

Related Articles: management 

Article ID: 67

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