Changing Your Business Name

Before you undertake a serious decision like changing your business name, consider these four factors.

By Chris Penttila

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q:Should I change the name of my business? I've been pondering this for a while, but I want to make sure it's a good decision.

A: Naming a business can feel like naming a child: You only get one shot, so you'd better get it right the first time. But that's not necessarily true. Some kids grow up and change their names, after all, and a growing business can do the same with some strategic thought. Here are four factors to consider when thinking about a potential name change.

1. Is your name too complicated? A foreign name, funny spelling or a word length that rivals super-califragilisticexpialidocious can seem cool early on, but your company is doing itself a disservice if people always mispronounce it or they can't remember it. Your message could be getting lost in translation because of your company's name.

2. Is your name too generic? It may be time to consider a name change if yours is too similar to a competitor's, or it doesn't get across what you offer. Write down the names of your local competitors, and ponder how your name stacks up.

3. Can you afford it? Changing your company name isn't cheap. You'll have to change your marketing materials-ads, logos, company stationery and so on-and make legal changes if the company is incorporated. Think about everything you'd have to change, then estimate the overall cost.

4. Do you still have low brand equity? A name change can work if your company still has low brand equity-that is, the estimated monetary value added to your brand because people know who you are. On the other hand, if your local brand equity has grown greatly, a name change could end up costing more than it's worth.

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Chris Penttila

Chris Penttila is a Washington, DC-based freelance journalist who covers workplace issues on her blog, Workplacediva.blogspot.com.

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