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6 Steps to Renaming a Brand Successfully

What’s in a name? An Amazon by any other name would smell just as sweet.

Or not.

In 1994 a young Jeff Bezos was just starting up his little book delivery company and needed a name. After days of brainstorming, he finally came up with that retail giant we all know today……Cadabra?

Yes, even billionaires miss the mark sometimes. Bezos’ original name for Amazon was Cadabra, which he finally backed off of after his lawyer convinced him it sounded too similar to “Cadaver.” Not exactly the words you want to be associated with your business. Bezos finally settled on “Amazon” after the world’s largest river, and the rest is history.

Your business may not be the next Amazon (or maybe it is, who are we to say), but that doesn’t mean you should hold tight to a business name that’s not serving you anymore. Renaming a brand can feel a little daunting at first. Will your new name miss the mark with customers? Will you lose all that brand equity you’ve built up? Will you be able to find a new name that captures your unique strengths and position in the market?

Luckily, renaming your business doesn’t have to be stressful. In fact, with the right guidance and expertise behind the effort, renaming a company can be a lot of fun!

Why would I rename my business?

There are lots of good reasons to change your business name. You should consider the rebranding process if:

  • Your company name is outdated. If you haven’t updated your brand in decades, it likely no longer matches up with current trends.
  • Your company has new ownership. This is especially common with small businesses or family-run companies. If you want to bring new life to a business after it changes hands, renaming the brand could be step one during a merger or acquisition.
  • Your name doesn’t reflect your business. Businesses change. If your name isn’t capturing the right ethos of your business anymore, then it’s not capturing the right customers either.
  • Your name has become associated with something negative. In 2012, it was uncovered that 7 time Tour De France champion Lance Armstrong had used performance-enchancing drugs. Also in 2012? The Lance Armstrong Foundation suddenly became the Livestrong Foundation.
  • Your name is getting confused with another business. Your unique brand positioning is what gives your business power in the market. Getting confused with another company means you have to work extra hard to stand out.

Steps to renaming your brand

If any of the reasons above reflect where you’re at with your business, it might be time for renaming your company. But where does the rebranding process start?

1. Start with brand strategy.

We may sound a little like a broken record, but it’s all about BRAND STRATEGY! Your brand strategy becomes the foundation on which your brand success is built. It may feel tempting to come up with a catchy name or logo and then build your brand around that, but without honing in on your unique brand position and discovering what is at the core of your business first, your brand doesn’t have legs to stand on. 

An experienced branding agency like Quill will be able to walk you through a full discovery of your business to narrow down what makes you stand out in your market and what message you are trying to communicate to your customers. After you know what makes your business special and figure out a strategy for leveraging that, then you can move on to your new name.

2. Brainstorming.

Here’s the fun part! Time to throw some spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks! But maybe get some guidance from the expert spaghetti throwers at a branding agency first. 

The brainstorming stage of renaming your business can be fun and you can get a chance to flex your creativity, but business owners can often get bogged down by their proximity to the business. Yes, it may seem counterintuitive but as the owner of a business, you might not know what’s best for your business when it comes to rebranding. It’s easy to get stuck in personal preferences, cling to past branding, or overcomplicate things with groupthink (do you really need the opinion of your mailman, entire accounting department, and cousin Ted?).

A branding agency that follows a holistic creative approach will have tried-and-true methods for coming up with successful brand names and be able to generate a solid list of names as a jumping-off point.

3. Narrow it down.

Okay, so you’ve got your shortlist of new business names. Now it’s time to figure out what’s viable and what’s not. There are a few key questions to answer as you narrow down your name list. 

  • Is it unique?
  • Is it easy to spell?
  • Is it easy to say?
  • Is it copyrighted?
  • Is the domain available?
  • Are the social media handles available?

If the answer to some of these questions is no, then it’s time to cross that name out.

It might take several iterations of this process before you find The One, but with the guidance of a creative branding agency, your business will have its new name and you’ll be ready to rebrand.

4. Move on to visual identity.

An updated name needs to come with updated visuals. Once you rename your business, you can bring that new energy alive with visual elements that amplify your new name and make your rebranded business feel fresh and intentional. A consistent visual brand will be what takes your new name the extra mile.

5. Create a strategy for communicating your new name.

Shout it from the rooftops! Now that you’ve renamed your brand, it’s time to get the word out. Work with a branding agency to create a plan for communicating your new brand to your stakeholders - customers, employees, partners, and vendors. Communicating your rebrand is more than just a one-and-done marketing push. Consider all the touch points that are part of your audience’s brand experience and make sure your rebranding is reflected in each one.

Here are a few key ways to communicate your business’s new brand:

  • updated website
  • company newsletter or marketing emails
  • press releases 
  • social media posts
  • direct mail campaign
  • new signage, posters, and other print materials
  • featured blog announcement

When you create your rebranding plan for telling the world about your new name and brand identity, make sure your audience can tell you’re all in! Tell your story, give the “why” behind the rebrand, and then own it! Connecting emotionally with your audience about the reasons you changed the business name will help build trust in your business and generate clarity and excitement.

6. Ongoing brand management.

Once the rebranding is complete, you don’t want to rest on your laurels. Oftentimes, organizations will spend the time and money on renaming and rebranding but overlook the importance of continued brand management. Many companies don’t have someone within the business to lead the charge on the execution of brand strategy and innovation, which can leave your shiny new brand feeling stale after a while. Once the branding legwork is done, maintaining your brand recognition is critical for success. This is why, as a specialized branding agency, Quill offers continued brand management support in addition to strategy and identity creation.

What does a successful naming and rebrand look like?

Case Study: Pillars

In 2018, the Fox Valley Warming Shelter, the Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities, and Homeless Connections merged together to create a new, cohesive organization that could better serve unhoused people in the area. When this new organization decided they needed a new name and brand identity to better represent who they were after their merger, they came to Quill to create a brand that would deliver this vision.

Quill was able to focus in on the unique way in which this new organization was serving their community, and Pillars was born.

Today, Pillars is operating with a larger impact than they ever have, and the community of volunteers and team members are all working towards the common goal of supporting our community by working together.

Need to rename your business? Let’s chat.

If your business could use a fresh start, get in touch with us at Quill. Our branding studio has spent years fine tuning our creative process to perfect the harmony between creative brand identity and business objectives. With many rebranding projects under our belt, we can offer you the expert guidance that comes with experience and the objectivity and creativity to pinpoint the best new name for your business.