Aug
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The MSP re-branding guide part two: Should I change my company name?

The MSP re-branding guide part two: Should I change my company name?

August 8
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This article is part two in a six part series coauthored by marketing and advertising master, Mark Woffinden. Check out part one.

Once you’ve figured out what you do best and what you consider most important, it’s time to think about a name.

“But wait, I’m an established company, I have a name and I’m not changing it!” Easy, pal. Nobody said you had to change your name, but according to an article on Entrepreneur.com, at least ask yourself a few questions about your company name—a change might be more helpful than you think.

Why change names?

First, think about what you would hope to accomplish from a new name. Are you trying to build a new reputation as a company? Are you just trying to find a name that’s more ear-grabbing and marketable? Keep in mind that it will take time, effort, and money to change your name, especially if you’re a larger company.

There are a few reasons you might consider changing your current name:

1. It’s too complicated

If you’ve got a long name, if it’s spelled strangely, or if it’s in a foreign language, you can hurt people’s ability to pronounce or remember it. You need a clear message reflected in your name. A name like compu-global-hyper-meganet sounds pretty cool, but it’s tough to remember and far too complex.

2. It’s too generic

If you’ve got a name that’s similar to competitors in your space, it might not be memorable. Tech companies are some of the worst offenders when it comes to awful and generic names (followed closely by construction companies). Since most IT firms are started by knowledgeable technology experts and not by marketers, the name of a business (and subsequently the brand) is often an acronym tied to the name of the owner.

Having an acronym isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can work against you. If competitors in yours space already have acronyms or boring formulations, you might be doing yourself a disservice by keeping a name that uses similar conventions. How can you stand out when every other IT company name sounds very similar to yours? You can’t, and in fact, it might be tough for clients to differentiate businesses if names sound alike (did I hire Technocom or Comnotech?). Take some time and think of a name that instills the character of your business and sounds interesting instead of one that’s as sterile and monotonous as a microchip factory. Also, be sure to keep it fairly brief because long names are harder to remember, and can bring about challenges when it comes to your logo, which we’ll discuss in a future post.

3. It’s got poor brand equity

If nobody knows your name because your business is small and people haven’t really learned your name, your brand might not have that much value as it is, which means changing it might be a way to give your business a facelift. Note, however, that you could have more success promoting yourself under your current name, and simply adding a slogan as a benefit statement. This will depend on cost, which we’ll discuss later.

Larger companies that have built themselves under a certain name might want to stick with it (but note that you can make a few other helpful tweaks to your slogan or logo), but that’s not to say they can’t benefit from a name change as well. It’s worth noting that changing things now might be difficult and expensive for you, and confusing for clients and prospects who’ve heard your name before. But, if you really need the facelift, if you’re a small MSP looking to grow, or if you’re just getting started, a great name will certainly help.

Take note that in general, name changes are hard to pull off—your name permeates everything in your business. Imagine your name as water, and your business as a jar full of rocks. The water fills every nook and cranny of the jar. Getting the water out or starting over isn’t easy to do. Changing your name might be a last resort, so take extra care before deciding to do it, and remember that a benefit statement (a slogan) can do a lot to boost a weak name.

As mentioned, changing your name can be expensive, so while you’re deciding if you’d like to change your name, you should think about whether it’s worth the cost. You’ve got to alter everything from business cards to marketing materials to domain names to the sign outside your office, not to mention the legal changes. For a small shop, it could be fairly straightforward, but it can still get costly, and might not be worth it. Smaller tweaks to logos and slogans can offer a large benefit, and it’s much easier. Larger businesses have more resources to make changes, but they’ve also likely established more brand recognition and have a lot more things to change, so it really just depends on how badly the name needs to be changed.

Estimate the cost, and then decide if a name change is still plausible—you don’t want to lose a bunch of money if you’ve got a perfectly decent name already, or if your name just needs more time to gain recognition.

Stay tuned for The MSP re-branding guide part three: How do I pick a good name?

Photo Credit: Horia Varlan via Compfight cc