What We Can Learn from 7 Businesses That Changed Their Name

What We Can Learn from 7 Businesses That Changed Their Name

The right business name can transform your professional organization into an exciting and relatable brand. Finding the just-right business name requires a lot of research and a final commitment.

Going back on this decision can feel like a significant loss. You put in a lot of work to promote your business as this particular name. This can mean losing out on social media handles, search engine rankings and overall authority.

However, the best business owners are constantly observing and learning. What was once trendy and relevant could quickly become a liability. A name change for your business could be a setback, but it could also be a sustainable move that propels your brand to the top of your industry.

If you’re on the fence about whether to change your business name, consider these seven name brands that we might not have heard of if they didn’t make the decision to change their names.

1. BackRub –> Google

Key takeaway: Funny isn’t always functional. If you’re going to break ground the way that Google has, having a more unique name leaves room for curiosity rather than false assumptions.

While the name BackRub is clever as it refers to Google’s role in crawling and collecting the internet’s backlinks, the name lasted less than a year, likely in an attempt to achieve more mass appeal. Once the search engine started to identify its full potential, it certainly recognized the friction it would face when happy users would recommend to their grandparent or child that they visit a site called backrub.com.

If you want to be niche or you understand your consumers VERY well, it’s not a bad thing for your business name to be a little humorous or reflective of your personality. However, if you’re looking to takeover the internet the way Google has, choose a name that’s appropriate for all ages and personalities.

2. Blue Ribbon Sports –> Nike

Key takeaway: The best brand names are one of a kind, rather than something that falls in line.

One word, four letters and one simple swoosh. Nike is an excellent example of how bold and effective simplicity can be. In the sports performance space, being fast, efficient, bold and punchy is exactly how you want to be perceived.

What is your business name going to convey to someone who has never heard of you? If you hear the name Blue Ribbon Sports, you might think of the place you went to get your P.E. clothes back when you started junior high and high school. When you hear Nike, you’re instantly more intrigued by this exotic and confident brand name.

3. Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web –> Yahoo!

Key takeaway: If you want word of mouth, don’t make your brand name a mouthful.

Being at the forefront of the dot com boom, Yahoo’s founders, Jerry Yang and David Filo, quickly recognized that their initial name didn’t have much lasting power. Aside from the fact that it sounds like a book you would find in the clearance section at a used bookstore, positing their business as a “guide” was not going to appeal to the average consumer for long.

The internet evolved today’s consumers to be more savvy and efficient with their time. For the users who didn’t take a DIY approach to browsing the web, the idea of a guide is that it’s only temporarily useful to get things started. By repositioning their brand as a more general search engine and email platform, Yahoo! carved out a path to become one of the most visited sites on the internet to date.

4. Sound of Music –> Best Buy

Key takeaway: If you want to make waves in your industry, don’t start by competing for your own name.

Best Buy clearly made the right decision by changing their name as they’ve become a household brand in the electronic goods industry since the mid-80s. When customers mention your company name, you don’t want there to be a single doubt who they are referring to. Best Buy also conveys an appropriate descriptor of what customers will find once they enter the store.

Thanks to their name change, consumers around the globe know exactly what Best Buy is and where they stand within their industry.

5. Unadulterated Food Products –> Snapple

Key takeaway: There is such a thing as too literal. Keep your business name positive and allow your other messaging and actions to tell the rest of your brand’s story.

Snapple is such a fun brand name. It was selected based on the description of their main product — a snappy apple drink. It’s also descriptive of the sound the top makes when you pop open a new bottle. The name Snapple is short, descriptive and appealing. What isn’t very appealing is Snapple’s old name.

Unadulterated Food Products is not only clunky and dated, but it’s also off-putting — the last thing you want when you’re trying to sell a food product. While being more natural than the competition is a positive, it’s better for consumers to be thinking about your product’s great taste and health benefits, rather than food being adulterated at all.

6. Relentless –> Amazon

Key takeaway: Shoot for approachable if you want mass appeal.

Initially, something about relentless.com had appealed to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos despite close friends suggesting that the site name was a bit “sinister” for an online bookstore. Eventually Bezos heeded these concerns and changed the name of the then-online book retailer to what is now the beacon of online shopping around the globe: Amazon.

It’s clear that the name change to Amazon, after the world’s largest river, was the right choice for Bezos as millions of visitors flood to Amazon.com daily.

7. Goodfellow’s Dry Goods Company –> Target

Key takeaway: You don’t want your business to seem out of touch and dated.

Target truly hit the bullseye when they launched their namesake stores in 1969. As Goodfellow’s Dry Goods Company, stores would likely have been perceived as simple, reliable and trustworthy retailers that stock dependable products that are priced affordably. As Target, stores would be given a bit of a face-lift to provide shoppers with an elevated shopping experience that would carry them into the modern age.

If you feel that your business growth has plateaued or that you want to take your business in a different direction than your current name implies, a name change can transform the potential of your business.

With Incfile, we make business name changes easy with online filing and anytime customer assistance. All it takes is to file Articles of Amendment to get the process started.

Chris Keller

Chris Keller

Chris Keller is a veteran the in business finance industry. Prior to starting his own business, he managed product lines at two Fortune 500 companies focusing on their Profit & Loss statements.
Chris Keller

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