I’m changing my business’s name! Do I need to change my branding?

Maybe you started out calling your business by your own actual name, but it’s grown beyond just you.

Maybe you’re changing the nature of the very work that you do and need your company name to reflect that.

Or maybe you’re preparing your business to be sold later on down the road and need to give it a little more universal appeal.

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Despite your best efforts when you started your business to come up with a timeless, compelling, and catchy name that would effortlessly work from day one till eternity, you could still easily run into one of these scenarios–and be left needing to change that name you worked so hard to build your brand around.

Then once the initial shock of realizing you need to change your business’s name passes, a new dread rushes in to take its place:
will you have to completely change your business’s branding on top of its name?

The good news is that the answer is not always yes! So don’t automatically let the issue of rebranding hold you back from making a necessary name change if it’s in the cards for your company. What you do to adapt or update your branding depends heavily on whether or not you actually like your current branding and if it still fits your overall mission.

We've worked with clients in the past who changed their name and simply updated the text in their logo to reflect it. Easy! But other clients have come to us at a turning point in their business where their name and branding no longer reflected all their business had grown to embody. Here’s how the thought process for several situations you might find yourself in breaks down.

Are you changing your business name because your company is shifting direction?

Sometimes our clients want an entirely new name for their business because the business has philosophically outgrown its name. For the sake of brand cohesion, this almost always means that it’s time to overhaul the branding, too.

Businesses usually start small, and naming conventions follow suit. When you’re a one-person operation, it makes perfect sense for your brand to carry your name, your initials, or the smaller seed of an idea that your mission contains.

As your growing business meets success on your initial objectives, though, it naturally thrives and changes. And suddenly that perfect name you chose starts to feel just a little too snug. It’s only natural to need a more expansive name to capture all your brand has grown to become.

We’ve recently worked with two clients whose business name change was a result of a sea change in mission and purpose, and therefore signaled the need for total branding overhaul.

Page & Podium was formerly DAS Author Services, an amalgam of the names of its two partners. As they sought to get their ghostwriting services in front of a wider network of thought leaders and reflect the change in their business size to a team of associates, their old name had to go–and their old branding along with it. The new company name paired with sophisticated new branding and website truly sets them apart in their field.

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Stripcraft’s original brand name was the owner's name, Dr. Lux ATL. The old name was an encapsulation of the woman at the helm and the geographic area she serviced. But as her brand became a worldwide success, its name had become too pigeonholed for future growth.

As part of our rebranding work for Lux’s business, we consulted with her on the name change to Stripcraft as well as the business’s new tagline: Good Times, Bad Girls. The concurrent name change and development of new visual branding and website enabled all of the brand’s objectives to mesh into one bewitching, conversion-focused, future-foraying path.

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And the best example of this example? US!

Perennial Creative Co. used to be Lovely Day Atelier, a one-woman show focusing on wedding invitations. When I decided to shift focus to branding and website design, not only did the name need to change, but the branding needed to be completely redone to reflect the new scope, too.

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Are you changing your business name but not the business itself?

Sometimes your business is staying the same course but its new name is so different from what it was before that a rebrand is necessary in order to accommodate the difference in text. Say you’re changing from your original company moniker that’s comprised solely of your own name to a short acronym, or you’re adding a letter to your existing acronym-style business name because you’ve taken on a partner.

In cases like these, you might be able to match the style of the current branding and not change much more than the logo. But it’s also possible that your branding may need significant changes due to differences in the spatial real estate the new name lives in.

This can be a great opportunity!

Along with the branding tweaks to accommodate the name change, you can give your brand an update or refresh to reflect its growth or any subtle shifts in market or audience. You can even take this chance to make little changes you’ve been wanting in existing branding that you’re not completely satisfied with.

Though we can’t take credit for working on it, our favorite example of this scenario comes from everyone in the design world’s favorite TV show to reference, Mad Men. When the advertising agency Sterling Cooper started adding partners to its lineup, the business name changed to SCDP, and later SC&P. Rebranding happened in each instance to reflect the new name and the younger, more nimble ethos of the brand, even though the line of work itself was exactly the same.

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Are you just changing the business name and are already in love with your current branding?

If you're happy with your current branding, and your company name isn't changing too much, it may be fine to simply update the name in your existing logos and wordmarks and leave the rest alone.

In this case, the original designer that you worked with for your branding would most likely be excited to tweak these designs for you. Or, if they’re not available and you have the original working design files, you can collaborate with a new designer to refresh your logos and monograms.

Our client BS-Free Business was previously known as Small Business Boss. This client loved the branding and website we developed for them, but as the years wore on, they grew less fond of the dated “girlboss” implications of their company name. So, in this case, updating their existing logos with their new business name was all we needed to do.

The style of their logo and branding remained the same with some tweaks to accommodate the differences in the length and format of the new name. The before and after of their logos are clear siblings, and the “genetics” of the designs were similar enough that, once we re-worked the logo designs with the new name, we were able to go through and replace them one for one–completely maintaining the brand’s style and feel.

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If you're doing something even simpler, such as changing part of your company name from “associates” to “consulting” or adding other minor appendages like these, and you’re already in love with your branding, you can forge a similar path. Even if you want to do something such as updating or adding a tagline to your brand and logo, these things can be done while maintaining your existing branding and done in a way to match your brand’s style and feel.

The bottom line is this: With a business name change, some change in your branding is inevitable, be it a logo tweak or a full-gut renovation.

But despite the growing pains associated with making any sort of alterations to your brand, you can feel confident that it will all be worth it in the end. Because your brand–like you–is an ever-evolving entity, and it deserves a visual identity that can grow and speak to what it’s all about, in its current time and place.

We love shepherding clients through this kind of change, so get in touch if you’re itching to pivot and ready to take your branding to new heights.

Jessica Suhr

I'm a designer, gardener, and animal lover, hell bent on creating beautiful, cohesive brands for fun-loving and level-headed small business owners. Read more about me here.

Keep reading, friend!

After a year of hard work, I’ve finally rebranded my business. In 2013, when Lovely Day Atelier started as a side hustle, I focused on designing wedding invitations and other event stationery. But as I grew, expanded my services, and stepped into running my business full-time, the name and brand never quite felt right.