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Name Dropping

Should you change your company's name?

Does your company's name accurately reflect what you do, where you operate and whom you serve? If not, it may be time for a change.

A company's name can be a tremendous marketing tool--but only if people remember it, says Rudy J. Alvarado, CEO and chairman of Advancia, a high-tech consulting firm in Oklahoma City.

When Alvarado purchased a controlling interest in Advancia eight years ago, it was going by the name of LB&M. Because the name was created by previous owners, it had no meaning and no relevance to the current operation, so last year, Alvarado changed the moniker to Advancia. If your company is in a similar situation, Alvarado offers these suggestions:

  • Choose the new name carefully. Be sure no one else is using a similar name that would cause confusion. Protect the name by registering it with the appropriate agency in your state and, if applicable, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, DC.

Alvarado chose Advancia because it was a "coined word" that isn't listed in the dictionary, meaning it would be easier to trademark and protect; it was available as a Web address; and it doesn't translate to mean something negative in other languages.

  • Get your customers involved. Two years before the change, Alvarado began telling clients a name change was in the works.
  • Keep your employees informed. Let employees know what the impact on them will be. Alvarado encouraged employees to submit suggestions for the new name.
  • Make the announcement a marketing event. The day the company name officially changed, Alvarado presented employees and clients with coffee mugs, pens and T-shirts emblazoned with the new name and logo.
  • Establish a transition period. For a while, you may want to answer the phone with both names and include the old name on printed materials.

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This article was originally published in the October 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Close To Home.

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