A name change is a rare opportunity for many organizations. It’s one of those events that creates a spotlight, capturing the attention of all stakeholders and causing them to take a fresh look at the company. It’s also one of the few such events that can be managed proactively to have the desired impact.
At the same time, a corporate name change is a daunting event. No matter how well it’s managed, it’s expensive, takes a ton of time and is a major distraction – and the stakes are high for getting it right. It’s important to begin with well-informed expectations and a good process. And to answer some fundamental questions before committing:
1. The main reasons to change a company’s name are to eliminate a problem or unlock value. What is the problem or opportunity you’re hoping to address?
2. Is there an easier, less expensive, less disruptive alternative for addressing the problem or opportunity?
3. Recognizing the likelihood of unintended consequences, what are the most important ones to consider?
4. Why change the name now? Considering competing events and initiatives as well as organizational capacity, is there a better time?
5. Are the estimated costs and timeline for implementing the name change acceptable?
Once you begin to focus on an option or options, there are other questions to think through:
- Consider the long-term vision for the company and the strategy for achieving it; how will a new name support the vision, and in what ways could it present complications?
- Will the new name be energizing?
- What value will it unlock? What has to be done to ensure that it delivers that value?
- What challenges and negative impacts might the new name create?
- How will specific stakeholders be affected by the name change? Will there be perceived winners and losers?
Many of you have probably gone through name changes or watched them. What else would you add to the thought process to make sure such a big, difficult and costly initiative is successful?