An organization’s name carries emotional connections and even equity with it – the amount of which depends on the brand power, reputation, and loyalty it has built in its markets over the years. As a result, selecting the new name that will represent the brand is an important strategic undertaking.
Though it’s tempting to just pick a new name from a list of options developed in-house, we strongly advise against it. Rather, if your company is faced with a name change at some point in the future, Market Connections strongly recommends that you bring in outside research and creative firms to drive the name development and selection process. Since they aren’t close to your situation or part of your target audience, an outside creative group doesn’t carry any strong emotional connection to the existing name, so they’ll be more likely to develop memorable alternatives than an in-house group. In addition, incorporating customer and prospect insights into the process via research will ensure your name properly reflects your desired brand identity and will be well received in the market.
The research firm should first conduct several segmented focus groups or in-depth interviews to gain insights into how your target audiences perceive your company and the brand attributes they most value. These qualitative findings will help focus the creative team in the right directions as they brainstorm. Of course, as they develop recommended options, an experienced creative shop will do its best via online searching to ensure those names aren’t already taken and that intuitive web site URLs are available.
Once the creative shop has submitted a list of potential new names, your management team should evaluate them against the following criteria:
- How well does the name reflect either what you do or a discriminating company attribute?
- If the goal is for the new name to be a natural transition of the old name so there is still an element of brand familiarity, does it accomplish that?
- Does the name have any negative connotations (either in your industry or in common language) that may undermine its effectiveness?
- How unique or memorable is the new name?
- Are there any similar sounding names in the market that might lead to confusion?
- Does the name lend itself to being shortened into an undesirable or unmemorable acronym by employees or the market?
- If you operate globally, does the name mean something in another relevant language that can be interpreted incorrectly?
Once management has a list of names it’s comfortable with, we recommend that a law firm perform a trademark search to eliminate those that are not legally available.
From there, your research firm should test the list of viable name options in the market via a structured telephone or online quantitative survey. The internal naming team can then make their final selection from those the market most prefers.
This approach will optimize the likelihood that your new name will effectively align with your brand identity and that it will be embraced by employees, customers, and prospects.