The Art of Rebranding: How the Name Changes Everything

 Stella Saroyan
  Aug 01, 2018


Corporations inevitably evolve as the time rolls by, which means their brands can change too. The thing is, depending on multifarious factors, rebranding can bring peril, or propel a business forward. This pivotal decision can really make it or break it.

After all, you are offering your brand equity as a sacrifice to the altar of the public eye and from the ashes of the old, a new brand must rise like a Phoenix and spread its wings.

Turning a new leaf

Name is much more than a string of letters on your logo. It has a profound impact on all business aspects. The initial choice can be rather unfortunate, but luckily, names are not set in stone. There are many good reasons to consider a name change, including its oldness, mergers, tarnished reputation, branding limitations, etc.

For better or worse, changing the name is the driving force behind the process of rebranding. There are many moving parts to grasp here and rushing things is a bad idea. To make it even more tricky, rational thinking and emotional sentiments are intertwined.

Yet, in the long run, it is much better to get back to the drawing board than to stick with a bad name. The purpose is to nurture a new identity, one that will resonate more with the customers and stakeholders.

Fresh start

When it comes to branding and corporate names, you can see it all.

There are many famous examples of companies changing names and reaching new heights, to say the least: Google (previously BackRub), Apple, Inc. (Apple Computers), Pepsi Cola (Brad’s Drink), Sony (Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo), Nike (Blue Ribbon Sports), Firefox (Firebird), etc.

Let us now take a closer look at some other interesting examples.

Millennials probably don’t remember that the famous Japanese automaker Nissan was first called Datsun. The company decided to rebrand, and drop the Datsun name, in order to use one unique name for all of their models. What came as a surprise was the cost: $500 million was spent on the sole procedure of name swap (for example, changing the dealership signs required $30 million).

Conclusion? Rebranding can sometimes be a pricey adventure.

Changing the name can also stir confusion. Here are some examples of how companies did not think everything through before making that big decision...

In 2001, Linux created an operating system capable of running Microsoft Windows applications. They named it Lindows, as in Linux + Windows (yes, they went there).

Naturally, Linux faced claims by Microsoft that the name represented an infringement of the tech giant’s trademark. Although the court rejected the claims, later a settlement took place. As a part of an agreement, Lindows brand transformed into Linspire, Inc.

Another good example is Violight. Company emerged in 2004. around ultraviolet sanitizers. After a couple of successful years, they were moving away from solely UV technology and Violife” was seen as a natural extension. But little did the owners know, because there was already another “Violife” selling vegan cheese (!), which as you might imagine, confuses Google.

And sometimes, the reverse strategy works.

In the wake of a string of shocking events, Blackwater had to change its name twice. Believe it or not, the second name change (to Academi) was actually an effort to make the company appear “more boring”. You see, standing out is not always a good thing, certainly not when you are trying to leave the past behind.

Name of the game

A business name is the cornerstone of branding and changing it can be a treacherous endeavor. So, to steer clear of the pitfalls, understand the dos and don’ts of rebranding. Navigate the dangers of resurrecting a brand, take lessons from the companies that have been there already, and make sure you have the top digital agency for the job. Bring the new brand to life: Unfold the self-fulfilling prophecy of success by the power of the brand essence.

The Art of Rebranding: How the Name Changes Everything

Stella Saroyan

Stella is an MBA student who loves writing about technology and business news. She's very passionate about nature and her two dogs, Poppy and Mitchell.

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