February 4, 2015

There’s actually a third reason to re-name a company.

KFGChickenThere are, as you are probably aware, two main reasons to re-name an organization:
• yagotta, or
• yawanna.

Yagotta is the easiest to explain, and the most urgent. Your chosen name infringes on the trademarks or intellectual property of another. Yes, your family name is McDonald, and you put it proudly on your new diner, until a menacing law firm made crystal-clear the case for a name change … yagotta.

Or in the aftermath of a merger, you feel obliged to perpetuate the fiction that it wasn’t one entity swallowing the other. (C’mon. You know a “merger of equals” is a PR ploy, right?) Politically a new name is not just a hypothetical. Yagotta.

Yawanna re-names are more complex, challenging and perilous. You want to change names because you feel you’ve outgrown the old name. New markets or new offerings or tech that’s past its sell-by date, for example. Or the original name is simply ineffective and un-memorable. See our White Paper on the perils of the dreaded Three-Initial Name Mistake. As we have written about before, there is usually a faction within any organization who resist any change. Yawanna, but they don’t wanna.

The subject today is a third category: Yashudda. Re-name when customers, clients and friends tell you to. Some organizations mysteriously keep names for decades, while puzzled outsiders ask why. We’re looking at you, Radio Shack, UNCF, CDW and The Dog Bonery*.

You can no doubt come up with choice samples from companies you encounter. Share them with us; we’ll assemble a list of “favorites.” I’ll kickstart the list since I’d like to re-name Malaysian Airlines, all Acura model names, BB&T and Fatburger**. Best list gets sent one of our cheerful big mugs.

Better still, forward a link to this blogpost to the responsible parties at your list of firms. Let them know it’s time to rethink and re-name.

*I couldn’t make this up. My son ran across The Dog Bonery, a bakery for pets. The owner apparently had no 11-year-old boys in the house to talk him out of it. Or giggle him out of it.
**I know, some people love it. Is Fatburger so entrenched that a re-name is impossible? What if 5% of the folks passing by cringe? Can anybody afford to throw away 5%?