This article originally appeared on www.BusinessCollective.com.
Any time you give something a new name, especially the name of your business, it’s a big deal. In our case, we’ve had several years of sweat and equity in our previous name, AQB, with year-after-year growth and lots of recognition.
Why then would we, or even any business owner, want to change the name of their company? While it felt risky to toss our name aside — and made me more than a little nervous as to what our customers might think — our new name, FourLane, really makes sense.
- Generic names are hard to remember. People were always confusing us with the software we support, rather than the services we offered. Our goal is to change this trend.
- Low brand equity. With a hard-to-remember name, brand equity suffers; no one is going to buy our old name anytime soon. While we have been successful, our former name is a neutral component of our success. People hire us because of our reputation and the services we provide; not the name on our website.
- Legal concerns. Our former name consisted of three initials, AQB. The last two initials represented the software we most frequently work with, QuickBooks. We were concerned that, eventually, Intuit would want us to call ourselves something else.
- Brand confusion. Many companies who use QuickBooks also use QB in their names. It was hard to for us to distinguish ourselves from other players using the same initials.
- Our name limited us. We want to expand our products and services. A new name better positions us for the future.
In the process, we’ve found “renaming” more complex than “rebranding.” I don’t want to make light of rebranding as a strategic part of anyone’s business, but coming up with a new name means asking our clients, competitors and partners to remember a new name, rather than just recognizing a new symbol or different colors.
How We Found Our New Name
Once the decision was made, we had to find the right name. Easier said than done! People pay thousands of dollars to choose a name, and we just didn’t want to do that. We landed on FourLane, with the tagline: Driven by our client’s success.
Here are the criteria we used:
- Two syllables. Having two syllables makes a name easy to say and easy to remember.
- Conceptual. We wanted something that was visual and conceptual, rather than something literal, that told of our services. There are debates about which approach to take, but we chose the way of Apple and Google, esoteric names that, in turn, become the company story.
- Easy to remember. One of the reasons we changed our name was to establish a more unique brand identity. We didn’t want to shoot ourselves in the foot by using a name that is hard to remember.
- Available domain name. One of the hardest things about establishing a name, new or not, is finding an available URL. We also wanted to buy any similar URLs with different extensions and other spellings.
- Legal concerns. Once we had all the above criteria met, we needed a defensible trademark. Our attorney researched the trademark requirements, and as soon as we got the green light, we made plans to announce the new name.
We chose FourLane because we loved the imagery of a four-lane highway, images of driving and getting in the fast lane. We can also tie the number four to our four service areas.
The name also fits the above criteria: two syllables, conceptual, available domain name, easy-to-remember and an available trademark.
Is Renaming Right for Your Business?
Changing your business name is a risk. It can either generate a lot of interest in your work, or make people forget who you are and how to find you. We sincerely hope this is the case with FourLane. Again, our strength is in our clients and service delivery. In your case, think long and hard before making this kind of major change. Engage the right players in conversation before making a decision. Talk to your team, clients and partners. Consensus is a good thing.
Marjorie Adams is president/CEO ofÂ FourLane, a firm that improves the efficiency of client accounting departments through bookkeeping, tax, software consulting and business process training. The firm specializes in showing customers that they can continue in higher level QuickBooks products as they grow. In her spare time, Marjorie catches up with one of her six sisters, sweats through a morning run, reads a business book or watches the latest AMC show.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.