November 7, 2013
A lot of people would tell you that naming your startup is like a first impression: you only get one chance, so don’t mess it up. But startups who have successfully re-branded themselves provide an interesting counterpoint, and most startups have the luxury of low brand equity on their side.
If you’re considering changing your startup name, for personal or legal reasons, know that it definitely can be done. However, you want to make sure that your new name makes sense and causes your startup as little friction as possible.
Additionally, there are budgetary and legal ramifications that come with a startup name change. Should you decide to move on to a new name, research the topic in depth, and be sure to follow any state or federal regulations to a T.
Here is a quick “how-to”’ to get you started on changing your startup's name:
- First and foremost, establish why you need to change your name. I’m emphasizing the need here because you should never change your startup name simply to change it; if it’s infringing on copyright laws, that’s a different story.
- Are you able to currently afford the cost of a name change? I mean that in terms of literal dollars, because changing your name isn’t cheap. You’ll have to re-do your marketing materials, logos, stationary, image, and make legal changes in certain circumstances. Build an estimate of your overall cost and make sure it fits the budget.
- If you decide to change your name, be sure to take a long time and think about what you want to change it to. That funny spelling or really long name might not be the best option for you. Always remember that if people can’t remember your startup name, or if they can’t pronounce it, you’re only doing yourself a disservice. Often, less is more.
- Consider bringing your employees and current clients in on the process. After all, your employees are going to be working under the new banner, and your clients will provide valuable, objective views and opinions for you during the process.
- Read what the IRS dictates for this circumstance and learn what the legal process is for the name change. Knowledge is power, and this one is huge. The last thing you want is to rebrand only to find you’ve forgotten to change your tax forms; Wesley Snipes’ story can teach you a few things about proper tax protocol.
- Pre-prepare all the marketing and press materials for when the name change goes into effect. Your name change will be meaningless if everybody still thinks you go by your old moniker. And you want to be able to drop the information the second it’s ready to go.
- Last, deploy your new startup name.
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