You labored for weeks, even months, in choosing the perfect name for your business. You then spent thousands of dollars on trademarking the name and creating signage, stationery, business cards, and a website. You launched your business, sales went on an upward trajectory, and your customer base continued to grow. Several years later, however, your sales are flat or even down, your new products aren’t taking off like they should, you haven’t added a new customer in months, and you’re scratching your head, wondering what you need to do to spark interest in your business again.
It’s a common problem with a thousand different explanations, from too much competition to an ineffective sales model. You wouldn’t think, though, that the name of your company has anything to do with it, would you? Well, think again. Just as you sometimes need to take a look at refreshing your website to create a better user experience, you sometimes also need to take a look at refreshing your name to better reach your audience. Not convinced? Here are four reasons why your moniker could use some updating:
1. Your name sounds like it belongs in a different industry.
You won’t get your doors relocked by contacting Bob’s Plumbing and you definitely won’t be getting your nails done at The Pillow Store. Be cognizant of how your name ties your company to a certain industry or specialty, because if potential customers can’t figure out what you do and how you’re going to help them, they will go elsewhere.
2. Your name came from a short-lived trend.
When the dot com era boomed, companies hopped on the “.com.” and “.net” train. A few years later, the “ly” (think Weebly, Hively, etc.) and “ify” (as in Shopify and Spotify) naming kick set in. If we’ve learned nothing from the fashion industry, following trends will only leave you with a closet full of unusable clothes and a company left behind when the trend becomes outdated.
3. Your name is too vague.
Wards Company. What does it do and who is this “Wards?” Turns out, the company’s name is an acronym of the founder’s family members and it sold electronics. Today, they’re known as Circuit City.
Give your potential customers an inkling of who and what you are and you’ll more easily be found.
4. Your name is too specific.
Dunkin’ Donuts dropped the “Donuts,” even though they still make the donuts; Apple Computers dropped the “Computers,” because their other products were outshining their computer sales; and Burlington Coat Factory dropped the “Coat Factory,” because, well, they don’t manufacture coats (actually, they just wanted to ensure everyone knows that they sell other products, too). Your name shouldn’t limit you to be known only for a certain product line or service. As you grow and your name becomes more widely known, consider losing the product-specific part of your name so you can continue to evolve to meet the needs of your customers.
Naming (and renaming) your company is serious business. It pays to take the time to make sure you’ll be well-served by a name that will stand out among the competition and help draw in the right audience. Be open to changing it, though, if the signs indicate your name is costing you business.