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#434: Think Hard Before Changing Your Business Name

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, November 11, 2010
Updated: Thursday, November 11, 2010
I am thinking about modifying or changing the name of my consulting firm. Any suggestions?

Before your client knows much about your company, he or she infers much from the company name. John Doe and Associates usually means it is just John Doe. Excellent Research, Consulting and Meeting Planning might be interpreted as a range of unfocused business services. Zyzzx could mean anything.

Technology, markets, management trends, generations and reputation of consultants evolve nationally or in your own market. Have either you or your consulting space changed enough so that your name doesn't reflect (to a prospect) who you are? Given how most people locate your business, how important is a unique name in online searches vs. in conversations? How important is it to be findable vs. memorable?

When a consultant is the company in a relationship business, we are tempted to just name the company after ourselves, assuming that the name will express what the company is and does. This works very well for your current clients, but what about prospective clients?

George Eastman, founder of Kodak, gave some classic advice about company brand and name. "A trademark should be short, vigorous, incapable of being misspelled," said Eastman. "It must mean nothing. If the name has no dictionary definition, it must be associated only with your product." Although logical advice, this works only if you are able to put some resources behind establishing and supporting a name over time. Most consultants don't consider a rebranding effort worth the cost.

Tip: Even though rebranding or renaming your company will incur some costs (both in dollars and and in market confusion), it is worth at least a though experiment every few years to really think about whether your name still reflects who you are and what you stand for. Ask a few clients what your company name says about you.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

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