Thinking about renaming your company? That’s great! All you have to do is complete your legal filing, get a new logo, slap it on your website and you’re good to go.
Not to scare you off, but the truth is, you have to think about a lot of stuff when renaming your company and rebranding. Here’s the breakdown.
Come Up With the Name Itself
This is a whole ordeal in and of itself. But hey, you’ve got to start somewhere, right?
You could argue that this is the most creative – and possibly frustrating – step in the entire process.
There’s no magic bullet to coming up with a good name. Sometimes it’s like a bolt of lightning from the blue. Sometimes it’s the result of a bunch of brainstorming and research. Whatever you land on, just be sure it’s:
- Available (more on this in a bit)
- Easy (enough) to spell
- Fitting with your space (e.g., you probably don’t want a cute “ly” at the end in life sciences)
Lock Down the IP
Coming up with a new name is a great first step, but you’ve got to check with an intellectual property (IP) attorney to see if the name is available before you chug along.
They start with a database called TESS, from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO. You can search on their database yourself. If your name is super-unique, there’s a good chance you won’t find anybody with it.
And unique is good.
At that point, you can be pretty confident in locking that name down and registering it with your IP attorney.
Before you go on, though, ask yourself this: Is there a reasonable chance for confusion? If someone close enough in your space is using a similar name, you might not want to go with that. But check with your attorney first.
That’s what you’re paying them the big bucks for.
Register a Domain Name
Here’s the deal: If you can’t find a domain name that’s anywhere close to what you want, you may not be able to go with your new name.
It isn’t a reason to absolutely not go with the name you like, but it is something to keep in mind. Again, the goal is to avoid confusion when renaming your company.
Legal Name Change
These legal name changes happen often in the Blue Hen State. The Diamond State. Delaware.
Whatever you want to call it.
Again, talk to an attorney when doing your legal name change. Pay them and let them do what they do so you don’t have to worry about it.
Now, let’s move onto the more technical aspects of the name-changing process.
Start Using the New Domain & Redirect the Old One
It’s on with the old and in with the new. Switching your domain name can include anything from a full redirect on day one, a banner placed on the old sites for a month, a redirect after 30 seconds, so on and so forth.
Along with the website technicals, it’s also important to make sure you change over your email address to reflect your new name – you don’t want people wondering which @ they should be using. Again, avoid confusion.
While you’re at it, you should also make sure you’re changing your email signature to reflect your new and improved name.
Update Internal Systems
Internal systems include everything you use on a day to day basis at your company, such as Slack, GoToMeeting, CRM – all that fun stuff. There’s usually a name and logo associated with all of those systems, so it’s important that you get in there and change out any indication of your old name.
This could mean making a simple change to the URL used to login to your CRM or email system. This could mean metadata. Do a thorough audit to make sure the old name doesn’t show up anywhere like a sneaky little bugger.
Be sure to also update these internal systems when renaming your company:
- Office 365
- Project management
- Client portals
- Help desk or ticketing systems
- Dropbox (or the like)
But wait – there’s more. Make sure all of your phone systems and voicemail messages are updated, too. All employees should be on the same page with this so they can update their mobile and office voicemail greetings.
Which are always a joy – and not awkward at all – to play back to yourself.
The phone system’s “voice” attendant will need to be changed too, along with any display name or called ID with your old name on it.
Update Business Systems
Here’s a quick list of all the business systems you’ll have to update or notify after renaming your company:
- Accounting systems
- Accounting reports
- Bank accounts and company credit cards
- Notifying all vendors to invoice the new company name
Yes, we mean all vendors. All software providers. All professional services firms – everyone from your CPA to your legal team.
If you want to be in good hands, be sure to also update your insurance.
Make sure to also do the following business stationary 101 after renaming your company:
- Print up new letterheads on your envelopes
- Print up new business cards with your updated name
- Send a new PPT template to everyone who’ll need it
- Send the electronic letterhead to everyone who’ll need it
Again, if everyone is on the same page across the board regarding your name change, the world will be a better place.
Or at least a less confusing place.
Does your old name appear on offer letters, on the applicant tracking system, or even as the email people use to apply for jobs?
That’s no good.
Be sure to update all of the following HR factors after renaming your company:
- ATS (applicant tracking system)
- Core HR systems
- Performance management apps
- Payroll statements and checks
- Offer letters
The list goes on.
These may not be the most fun and exciting parts of your new name change, but they’re very necessary steps.
Want to know what is fun, though? Updating your swag!
Be sure to toss any evidence of your old company name out the window. Yes, that means no more wearing your old company name branded t-shirt and hat to work. Throw out that water bottle, too – or better yet, donate it!
Offer your employees some fresh new swag so they can represent your company in style.
Renaming Your Company: A Successful Transition
You’ve made it this far – so first of all, congratulations. And thanks for sticking around.
In order to make the renaming of your company a success, we recommend having an internal point of contact to run the show. This person should be distributing all of the approved business materials and making sure employees stop using any evidence of your old name.
It wouldn’t hurt to have someone at each physical location (if you have multiple) to make sure the physical inventory (such as mugs, pens, floormats) is up-to-date with your new name.
It also wouldn’t hurt to have an IT person assigned to make sure all of the techy aspects of this change include your new name with no trace of the old one.
A fun initiative your company could do to make sure nobody is still using your old name is to have a contest with $50 gift cards for anyone who “spots” the old name or logo and reports it to the internal point of contact.
You could even implement a version of the “swear jar,” but instead of throwing in a buck every time an employee uses their favorite four-letter-word, they have to pay up if an employee catches them using letterheads, logos, email signatures, or anything else with your company’s old name on it.
(You can donate those proceedings to charity, too.)
When renaming your company, make sure you go through the following eight factors:
- Actually pick a name
- Lock down the IP of any new name(s)
- Find a domain name that fits best
- Legally change your company name
- Transfer your domain name and redirect the old one
- Update your internal systems
- Update your business systems
- Consider all HR factors that come with a name change
If you get through all of these steps without a hitch, you should be well on your way to retiring your old corporate name, putting it on Medicare, and proudly sharing your new name with the rest of the world.