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  • Writer's pictureDeJuan Wright

How to Know if It's Time to Change Your Brand's Name

Coming up with a great name for your brand is by far, one of the most exciting, peculiar, and in some cases, one of the most nerve-wrecking aspects of the branding process that you’ll ever experience as a founder or brand marketer. 

A fascinating thing about naming a brand is that for some, the ideal name for your brand could instantly and easily appear in your mind—almost like an epiphany. While for others, discovering a brand name that really resonates with you could be a painstakingly arduous process. 

Nevertheless, whichever way you discover a name for your brand (here’s a few tips that’ll help you do just that), one thing's for certain—once you finally decide on a name for your brand—you will grow attached to it. So much so, that the mere thought of changing the name would render you dispirited. 

More so than any other aspect of rebranding, changing a brand’s name is a major decision and should not be taken lightly. However, it could very well be the thing that changes the trajectory of your brand—by positively impacting the way that your brand will be perceived. 

If it doesn’t resonate with its audience 

Known by millions of people around the world as the “Father of Advertising,” former advertising executive, the late David Ogilvy, once said that, “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.” 

Correspondingly, a great brand name is a lot like a great joke. And if you’re wondering how the two correlate, try and think of your favorite comedians. Odds are that what made you like those comedians is that they told jokes that fit into either one of two categories. 

Either their jokes came in the form of an instant delivery—where you quickly understood the joke and found it funny. 

Or, their jokes came in the form of a story. In which the comedian sets up a backdrop that serves as a premise—which builds anticipation for the punchline that when delivered—ties the story together and makes perfect sense and comically resonates with you. 

Great brand names also work in a similar way. For some, you can instantly understand their meaning (e.g. AutoZone, Energizer, Frosted Flakes, Red Lobster). 

While others require a story to help an audience understand their meaning and how its connected to what the brand actually does or represent (e.g. Amazon, Apple, Decryption (I couldn’t resist), Nike). 

Whether your brand name is self-explanatory or requires a backstory—all great brand names have one thing in common—they resonate with their target audience. If your brand name isn’t resonating with its ideal audience—it may just be time to consider a change. 

If the name is confining

Although changing your brand’s name is an incredibly important (and frightening) decision to make; if you do decide to do so, you can take solace in knowing that some of the most popular and leading brands in the world also underwent a name change in order to become the huge successes they are today. 

Especially if their original names confined or negatively impacted the way that their respective brands would be perceived by their target audience. 

For example, today, Google is easily one of the most popular brand names on the planet. However, in all likelihood, had the brand kept its original name—Backrub (crazy name for a search engine, I agree), it probably would not have become one of the most recognized brands of all time as it currently is.

That’s because the brand name Backrub, was confusing, and even worse—a confining brand name that limited the way the brand would be perceived by its audience. If your current brand name also confines the way that the people you want to matter to most will perceive it—like Backrub did, it’s time to change its name to something far more appealing.  

Does it fit the Neumeier criteria for a good name?

I’m sure you’re wondering, What the heck is the Neumeier criteria? I’m glad you asked! The Neumeier criteria for a good name derives from the seven principles that author and brand adviser Marty Neumeier lays out in his book, The Brand Gap, for what a good brand name consists of. 

The seven criteria for a good brand name are:

  1. Distinctiveness - Does it stand out from the crowd? 

  2. Brevity - Is it short enough to be recalled and used? 

  3. Appropriateness - Is there a reasonable between the business purpose of the entity? 

  4. Easy spelling and pronunciation - Would most people be able to spell the name after hearing it? 

  5. Likeability - Will people actually enjoy using it? 

  6. Extendability - Does it have legs? 

  7. Protectability - Can it be trademarked? 

Your brand doesn’t necessarily have to fit all seven principles within the Neumeier criteria for a good name. However, if it does—you definitely should not consider changing your brand’s name. 

Let’s discuss your brand’s name 

Still undecided about whether or not to change your brand’s name? No worries. Send us an email and tell us all about your brand name, its story, and how you’d like it to be perceived by its audience so that we could help you make one of the most important decisions that you’ll ever make regarding your brand. 


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