2017 UPDATE! I have since decided to change my company name to my actual name, Alana Ruoso. Oh, the irony! But read on to see how I worked through this process. And check out this blog post here where I announced the name change officially.
In PART 1 we looked at what happens when a client is stuck coming up with a name for their business that they LOVE.
Today in PART 2 I’m going to tackle the second most common obstacle I see with clients and the company name game - they can’t stand their existing name and they don’t know what to do.
Right out of the gate, if it is truly possible without massive financial loss, I always recommend ditching your company name if you hate it. If you really, really can’t bear the sound of it, and it makes no sense, and people keep asking you how to pronounce it or spell it, then you need to start over. You gotta pick a new name, let go of past, and move on. Pronto.
That intense frustration and ‘branding shame’ will attach itself to everything you do. Instead of feeling empowered every time you tell people about your business, you will feel embarrassed. Or uncomfortable. Or even angry. No matter how proud you are of the actual work you do, and the difference you make, if you don’t like your company name, then your business will suffer. Because you are suffering. You can’t risk bringing that kind of negative energy to the table.
This is what happened to my friend Janet* who now owns an indy ad agency. Janet left a fancy schmancy Don Draper-style company to make her own mark as an entrepreneur. Feeling a sense of urgency to come up with a company name - she wanted to start making money, like, yesterday - Janet created a moniker from the first names of her two children. Kelluca** was born (Kelly + Luca). She bought the url, did the paperwork and set her business in motion. And then… after a while… well, Janet wasn’t so sure she liked her name anymore. It was a bit awkward to say, and clients were always pronouncing it wrong. That annoyed her, and she got tired of trying to politely correct people without sounding defensive or making them uncomfortable. Skip to one year later, and Janet was totally over Kelluca. She was done feeling crappy every time she said ‘Kelluca’ and she knew it wasn’t doing her any favours.
In addition, Janet was concerned that she wouldn’t be able to easily attract a business partner in the future, which was something she was seriously considering. Candidates might find Kelluca too personal and not allow them the sense of company ownership necessary for a successful merger.
Janet did what so many of us do - jump ahead and make big branding decisions without really thinking it through. Naming your company is big decision. Now there are really fun ways to navigate the name development process (see PART 1), but the weight of the decision can’t be ignored. Because you have to live with that name, day in and day out, for potentially years or even decades.
Does your company name dictate the entire success of your business? Of course not. A business needs a fantastic product or service at is core, and its wins are built up from there. The name is just a small part of the brand equation, but an important one.
Interestingly, even if a client has a company name they despise, there is often a lot of resistance to changing it. It can be tough to let something so familiar go, I get it. There is often emotional attachment and memories, and the part where you have to face the fact that you are responsible for the horrible name in the first place. But I have yet to see a client regret making the leap and committing to a name change.
Yes, this decision will create major branding fallout. You will need to file paperwork, create a new logo, make new business cards, change your website, create new social media handles… the list goes on and on. But it is so totally worth it. At the end of the day, you must feel in alignment with how you present yourself to the world, and your name is a massive part of that.
I can’t stress enough how any negative thoughts, feelings or emotions that come up as a result of saying or hearing your name can only dampen your entrepreneurial spirit. Instead, fuel your fire with a name you love and become the business maven you know you are.
* fakeroo name to protect the guilty
** another totally fakeroo name