Big News This Week
This past week there was news of 3 different name changes by companies you may know.
The first announcement came from ZippyKid, who decided to change their name to Pressable.
The second announcement came from MaxCDN about their various brands (HDDN, cloudcache, and NetDNA). They’ve now consolidated brands to simply MaxCDN and MaxCDN Enterprise.
The third announcement came from VeloMedia as they announced the acquisition of Crowd Favorite. And even though they were acquiring the company, the announcement included the fact that they were going to move forward under the Crowd Favorite name instead of VeloMedia.
3 Warnings About Name Changes
Before you go thinking about a name change, here are 3 warnings to protect your thinking and efforts around a name change.
- When you change your name, you may lose traction (as much as you hope to gain it). You can let people know you’re the same folks behind the new name, but some people will simply be hesitant to go with a name they’ve never heard of. So be careful with your name change.In this way MaxCDN was smart (even if I don’t love the loss of the NetDNA brand). They shifted NetDNA to a name that already had brand equity (the “MaxCDN” of MaxCDN Enterprise).
- If you change your name, make sure you do a complete overhaul of your brand. Just a name change may not go far enough in terms of what you’re trying to accomplish.
- Don’t ignore brand equity when considering a name change. People will encourage you to change your name for a lot of reasons (may of them not nearly as strategic as you’d hope for). Make sure you do some serious analysis before you make a change.
While VeloMedia’s brand was growing, in the WordPress community, there’s no question it didn’t carry the same weight as Crowd Favorite. At the same time, the leadership of VeloMedia is what’s been trusted among its Fortune 500 customers. So after a series of phone calls with clients, they were ready to discuss the shift to Crowd Favorite as the brand to move forward with.
3 announcements, 3 name changes, 3 warnings.
Should You Change Your Name?
But if there’s so much to think about, should you ever change your name? Isn’t it better to just keep your name so you never lose your audience, trust, and brand equity?
Well, sometimes making a name change is strategic. So here are 3 reasons you should seriously think about making a change.
First, your current name doesn’t give you the full coverage of what you do and who you are. We’ve all known companies that put their product description into their company name. Then they create a few brand line extensions and the name no longer is a perfect fit.
WooThemes is a company like that. They started out in themes, but 80% of their revenue comes from plugins—WooCommerce particularly. So it wouldn’t shock me if one day they decided the “themes” part had to go. (I’m not making a prediction.)
Second, you might want to change your name if your name is too descriptive. While in the last case, the company name was too specific (including product descriptions), here it might be too generic.
This isn’t a company name, but every time I hear about WP e-Commerce (the product), I am tempted to think I’m hearing about the general idea of WordPress e-Commerce. That’s a case where generic doesn’t help you stand out from the crowd.
Lastly, the third case where it might make sense to change your name is when it has your own name (last name) in it, and you’re selling it.
I know that sounds silly, but let’s think about Pippin’s Plugins. Great name. Reminds you who built the plugins. But what happens if Pippin sells his company? (This isn’t a rumor, it’s a thought exercise.) It might make sense to get rid of Pippin in the name. Or not, depending on the cautions mentioned above.
An Additional Resource
If you do think about changing your name, here’s a resource that might help you.
Chris Lema is the VP of Software Engineering at Emphasys Software, where he manages high performers and oversees product development and innovation. He’s also a blogger, ebook author and runs a WordPress meetup in North County San Diego. His coaching focuses on helping WordPress businesses, or businesses wanting to leverage WordPress.