CAMBIZIAN Consultant provides a legal service for business entities if they are going to change their business name. Changing a business name without filing legal documents to the government agency does not guarantee legality and the acknowledgement from the government. So, business owners have to file their name change to the Ministry of Commerce of the Kingdom.
By the way, why do you need to change your business name? There are several reasons:
- Your Business Name Is Too Small: Starbucks dropped the word “coffee” and simplified their logo a few years ago. They’ve been working on adding baked products and more food items to their recent menu. Your business name may not be too narrow, but perhaps it sounds small. Think about Brad’s Drink vs Pepsi Cola. We often associate first person names with small businesses. Same goes for names of cities, towns, and streets. If you’re trying to go big, but your name seems small, it’s time for a name change.
- Your Company Name Is Too Big: Sometimes you make the opposite mistake, and aim too big from the start. Maybe you started a business as a general contractor. You got jobs remodeling bathrooms. Building decks. Repairing foundations. Anything and everything that could possibly fall under general contractor. Now, two years into it, you’ve become the go-to-guy for building outdoor living spaces. That’s your specialty. That’s what you’re known for. Outdoor living spaces are what you love and that’s where the money is. Your designs rock and you’re getting calls from out-of-state. You want to capitalize on that niche, but you’ve got “General Contractor” as part of your name, but that’s really too big. Too broad. It’s not you. You’ve narrowed your service offerings. You’re focused, which is a good thing. You want to be known as THE only source for amazing outdoor living spaces. You need a name that reflects that. A name that people will recognize and become familiar with. A name that’s easy to find online and easy to refer to a friend. You need to change your company name.
- Your Company Name Is Too General: If you’re 100% set on including what you do in your name, at least make it more defined or unique. I certainly don’t want to search for a baby photographer and end up on your boudoir photo gallery. If you help marketing your law firm, you don’t want to find a marketing firm aimed at restaurants or retail. Same goes for bands, artists, consultants, tutors, web developers, and restaurants. Again, I don’t recommend you include your trade or product in your company name, but if you must, try something a little more unique. Something memorable. Something that paints a mental image in your prospect’s mind. Example. I was driving down I-540 in N. Raleigh about five years ago and saw a van with the picture of a hammerhead shark on the back. It was the typical stark-white work van. I was curious. I sped up.
- You’ve Got A Legacy Name That’s Outdated or Irrelevant: Maybe your firm is named after the founding partners, and they’re gone. Or perhaps your company has been around for decades and let’s face it, things change. If you’re in tech, the whole world changes in a matter of minutes. Sony was once Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Company. Nike was Blue Ribbon Sports. UPS was the American Messenger Company. Bearing Point was once KPMG Consulting, who got its name from a merger between Peat Marwick International and Klynveld Main Goerdeler. A worthy name change, right? I could go on, but you get the point. As time goes on, words and phrases that used to stand for something become meaningless. That’s especially the case in the online world. Time flies. Sometimes you have to change your name to keep up.
- You’ve Got A Legacy Name That’s Hurting Business: Your firm is named after the founding partners. One of them was a crook. He’s in jail. Maybe no one’s in jail, but maybe your business is associated with an activity or product that’s no longer socially viable. Phillip Morris, the tobacco industry giant, changed its name to Altria in 2001. Obviously they were trying to remove themselves from the negativity surrounding cigarettes and tobacco companies. Blackwater Worldwide is a private military contractor that ran into some trouble working for the U.S. government in Iraq. After allegations of criminal activities, including being charged with the killing of Iraqi citizens, they changed their name to Xe. Your past activities may not be as controversial as Phillip Morris or Blackwater, but if you’re having trouble getting over a serious misstep or accusation, it may be time to rebrand and move on.
- You’re Ready To Move From Freelance To Scalable: Most small business are really just freelance gigs. Everything revolves around the owner. The employees are just support staff. The employees can come and go. The owner IS the business. Dentist. Doctors. Consultants. Designers. Web developers. Even most general contractors, landscaping companies, marketing firms, and mom-and-pop specialty shops are built around the owner. The one expert. There comes a time when some of these businesses are ready to leap into the world of scalability. Growth. At this point, everything changes. Sales. Staff. Processes. Systems. Financing. Operations. Marketing. Many businesses add new locations and offices when they start to scale. This may be a good time to change your business name. A name change at this point will give you the opportunity, as you spread out and reach new audiences, to ensure you’ve got the name and brand you need to make the impression you need to take your business to the next level.
- Your Name Can’t Be Found Online (When You Need To Be Found Online): You can’t always make it to the top of Google for highly competitive keywords. However, if your business relies heavily on potential customers searching online, you need to do everything you can to rank well. If someone knows your company name, and still can’t find you via Google, you need to change your name, yesterday. A few years ago I was at a large networking event. I had a chance to make a few great connections. One person, who shall remain nameless, told me their company name. It was easy to remember – Pinnacle Consulting. I wanted to follow up a few days later so I did search on Google. Google “Pinnacle Consulting”. Seriously, open a new tab and Google it. So think about that. I met someone. But I don’t remember much about them because I met quite a few other people. I remember their company name. I Google it. Useless. Can someone find your company when they Google your company name?
- Your Customers Can’t Remember, Can’t Spell, or Can’t Pronounce Your Company’s Name: You want your business name to be sticky. You want people to hear it once and have it stick in their minds. Common names don’t stick. They’re hard to remember. Jim’s Camera Shop. Tony’s Pizza. Best Chinese. Maybe your name’s not common. Maybe it’s very unique. You have customers. They love you. They want to tell their friends about you. Only, they can’t spell it. You’re in trouble. Odd, creative spellings. Foreign last names. Unfamiliar word usage. It’s ok to be creative, but make sure your customers can text and email your name to their friends easily. A few years ago I discovered a cool website designed to help you build your own social network, membership group, or online community. It’s called Ning. It’s different. It’s easy to spell. But say Ning out loud. Seriously, even if someone’s near you, it will make for a good laugh. Now, the next time you’re in a loud restaurant with lots of noise, ask one of your friends across the table if they’ve ever used Ning. I tried this. I tried to tell a few people about it. The response was consistent. No one could understand what in the world I was saying. They were puzzled. Confused. I literally had to spell it every single time. Frustrating! I gave up. Too much effort to even tell someone about it. It’s a horrible name. No one wants to have to explain your name, how to spell it, or how to pronounce it every time they want to tell someone about you. Make it easy. Remove the hurdles.
- Your Company Name Is Non-Copyrightable: Andy’s Burgers Shakes and Fries started in 1991 as a single restaurant in Goldsboro, NC. In 2012, after having opened over 100 restaurants, they went global. Only, there was one major issue. They couldn’t copyright the Andy’s name on the world stage. In order to expand worldwide, they had to have a name change. Today they are known as Hwy 55 Burgers Shakes and Fries.
- Your Business Name Is Holding You Back, Personally: I know from experience that business is hard. Starting and growing a successful company is extremely difficult. Sometimes you get stuck. Sometimes you downsize. Sometimes you fail. You may get to a point where you’ve been in business for years. Maybe decades. Your “prime” is gone. But you’re not ready to throw in the towel. The problem is that your name and your brand are haunting you. You can’t seem to let the past go. The mistakes. The glory days. Maybe it’s time to rise from the ashes and birth something new. Something different. You don’t have to scrap everything, but perhaps a name change will help breathe some life and energy back into your business. Get some publicity. Generate new interest. In addition, you can easily use this opportunity to reposition your company and make some long-overdue changes. Drop the services or products that aren’t profitable. Pick up a few new ones. Refine your pricing structure. Don’t let your company name hold you back from success. And if you decide to change your name, make sure you check out a guide to naming a business. Then do your research and understand the financial and legal implications to making that change. But, don’t be afraid of change. If the big firms can do it, so can you.