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Naming Strategies:


When and How to Rename Your Business


     Established businesses have existing customers, years of history, and some level of brand equity based on marketing investments over this time. In addition, changing names might lead to confusion, cause customers to switch, or fuel competitor initiatives.
     But what if the established name is no longer relevant? Perhaps dated or just plain old boring? It might be time to consider renaming. But first, consider the renaming options:  evolving the existing name, adding a new tagline to the existing name, or of course, a totally new name.
     Before deciding which option to pursue, begin with a careful evaluation of your name equity, name perceptions, and relative positioning in category or categories. Each of these information needs will require customer insight, derived from interviews, surveys or related market research. Depending on the scale of the business enterprise, research can range from a few interviews to a formal research study.
     With a better understanding of perceptions and positioning, brainstorm each renaming option. One of the most common versions of evolving existing business names is acronyms. International Business Machines becomes IBM. American Telephone  & Telegraph becomes AT&T. Another version of name evolution entails moving from the longer company name, to the shorter, or even slang name that customers use, for example, Federal Express to FedEx.
     When equity and history are strong and substantial, adding a new tagline can freshen up a longstanding name, and by definition, deliver a positioning better then the name itself. Nike was successful before it's famous tagline, yet when deploying the tagline, Just Do It, Nike became an icon for sports achievement.
     There are many reasons for a company to consider a totally new name. The most obvious, when negative publicity, legal or financial issues damage name equity. Accenture's renaming from Anderson Consulting only months before Anderson's implosion, seems to be one of the most brilliant marketing implementations in history. Another reason for a totally new name---dramatic change. Companies, products and markets change over time, particularly with acquisitions and fast changing technology markets.
     Regardless of the preferred renaming option, its important to follow a disciplined process, this to avoid the typical subjectivity and politics of naming. DriveThruNames recommends the six steps of customer profiling, competitor analysis, key word generation, positioning definition, name generation, ranking and scoring, and of course,
name selection.

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