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Identity Crisis

Our Marketing Expert reveals why you should think twice before changing your business name.
April 18, 2000
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/22986

Q: How do you go about changing the name of a business after you buy it? The food establishment we're going to purchase is a bar now, but we're going to serve a full menu. Does that involve more?

A: When you acquire a new business, it's only natural to want to put your own individual stamp on it and that may include giving it a brand-new name. But before you take such a major step, make sure you're not throwing away something of great value.

Name recognition is one the most vital components of success for any restaurant. It's built up over many months and years through advertising, public relations and (when all goes well) positive word-of-mouth. Since you're buying the bar and turning it into a full-service restaurant, it's clear the former owners were unable to make the operation a complete success. Even so, if the establishment has built up strong neighborhood ties over the years or is in an historic area, you may want to add to the name (maybe the word "cafe" or "grill" following the existing name) rather than change it. If you choose to change the name because you feel it has little intrinsic value, the attorney who handles your incorporation or purchase should also be able to handle registration of your business's new name.

To publicize your expansion and acquisition of the restaurant, make it your mission to gain maximum exposure for the new name. From grand opening public relations events and traditional advertising to ads on taxi-tops-pull out all the stops when it comes to spreading the word, and make sure all the right people hear, see and remember your restaurant's new name