In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about affiliate how to rebrand your company the right way.
Sometimes, some founders might decide to change the name of their company. This could be because they don’t like the name, the name is not resonating with their customers or they need a new name that reflects the current state of the company. While it may be a good idea to change the name, doing so a lot comes with a lot of risks and the rewards might not be that great.
Listen to Steli and Hiten talk about when the is the right time to rebrand your company, how to pull of a successful rebrand, examples of companies that rebranded the right way and much more.
Time Stamped Show Notes:
00:00 About today’s topic.
01:00 Why this topic was chosen?
01:39 How you know that rebranding is a good idea.
01:50 The two main types of rebrand that companies do .
02:53 Why you should think carefully about a name change.
03:12 Reasons to rebrand.
04:00 A major reason why companies change their names.
04:54 Another common reason companies change their names.
05:03 How changing your names is changing the perception of your brand.
06:45 How there’s a lot of risk when changing the name of your company.
07:23 How thinking through whether to change your name helps you come up with a better name.
3 Key Points:
- You really want to think about why am I changing the name.
- One of the key reasons companies rebrand is because they are running into a big issue.
- Changing the name for selfish reasons can work out but there’s a lot of risk involved .
Steli Efti: Hey everybody, this is Steli Efti.
Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah and on today’s episode of the Start Up Chat, we’re going to talk about how to rebrand your company. How to change the name, how to change the branding. All right, Steli. What do ya got?
Steli Efti: I don’t know, I mean this is an interesting one, right? In a prior episode we talked about how to brand your company or start up, how to give your product a name. In this one we wanted to talk about what do you do when you … A. How do you know that you should really change the name if you’re not happy with it or the results aren’t good? And then how do you pull that off? I think just recently, for whatever reason, I saw two examples. We’re not going to name names, but two examples of a company that tried to rebrand and it didn’t quite work as well as they wanted. In one example they even had to backtrack and change the decision again, which I assume was incredibly painful and very costly, very distracting doing so much work to do a new website, a new logo, and announce it to the world and to the company, and then having to a few weeks later take all that back, and go back to the old name. I thought it would be useful to talk, a. When do you know that you should rename or rebrand? How do you make that decision rationally? And then if you do it, how do you do it well so it doesn’t create a massive amount of friction or problems, and you pull it off in a successful way. So let’s start off with the first question. The fundamental one is how do you know that rebranding is a good idea, and renaming is a good idea? I have a sense of how we’re going to start this conversation off, but I always love to throw that ball to you, and see if you’re going to surprise me.
Hiten Shah: I want to say, there’s two types of rebranding. There’s the kind like Intercom has done, where they went from Intercom.ia to Intercom.com. That’s easy.
Steli Efti: I didn’t even know, I don’t even remember that, but that makes sense.
Hiten Shah: Yeah, they were, for the longest time. Yeah. That’s one kind of rebranding, where you’re just changing the domain and you still have the old one, and you’re not changing the name. I think that’s really easy, to be honest. You might even do an announcement, or might just keep it quiet and just do it and call it a day. It think there’s little technical details, like making sure you do a 301 redirect, making sure all your pages are mapped, making sure there’s no 404s, all that good stuff, just for SEO purposes because you’re probably getting some search traffic. That’s an important piece. Not for this call, but pretty basic stuff these days. So find somebody who knows about SER or whatever if you are going to do that, because you should do that right and your engineers will have a little bit of a headache doing it. They’ll figure it out. Then the other type is when you change your name. I think that, for me, when changing the name obviously that SEO stuff’s super important, but you really want to think about why am I changing the name? Why do I want to change the name? What’s the desire? Make a list. Make the list of reasons why you want to change the name. The reason is that’s going to help you come up with a new name. I’m assuming you haven’t come up with a new name but you have a desire to rebrand. Reasons to rebrand are usually like this domain is not representative of our brand anymore, or this brand is not representative of what our product is, or it’s too complicated to say we screwed up in the beginning, we didn’t really think about this too much and we’ve outgrown it because customers don’t know what the brand is and don’t know how to say it. We’re growing and we want to make sure the name reflects either what we do, or the name is just more expansive because we’ve expanded our product offering or we’ve pivoted it and need to be more representative of what we are.
Steli Efti: I think that oftentimes when people, I mean some amount of time when people want to rename or rebrand, it’s because they’re running into some big issue, right, so it might be that nobody can spell it or all our customers are confused about it, or they’re confusing it with some other product or company, and it really becomes a friction point that’s not just a small thing, but it just becomes a big thing and eventually convinces the founders of the team that hey, we need to change the name. This name is not just not helping us, it really is holding us back or creating a lot of friction and problems for us. That could be a reason, and you’d have to be … I’d be careful to really analyze if it’s true, that it’s that big of a problem or if it just appears to be that big of a problem because you hear it frequently. If you as a founding team, you hear somebody being confused about your name even just once a month, after six months you might think this is a huge issue. You just have to analyze sometimes if that’s true or not. The other reason that I see sometimes is just people are unhappy, they never liked the name in the beginning and as they see success later on they feel compelled to now go again at it with a name that feels bigger or better in terms of grand value. So they might do something super practical and technical in the early days, I don’t know, something that’s very descriptive, emailsendingtoolplus.com or whatever. And then as they see some success, emailsendingtoolplus is really a terrible name. We should really be Zinga or something. We should come up with some kind of cool name that could become a billion dollar business and a big global brand. But in those cases, it’s a very selfish thing. It’s an insecurity thing to say the founder’s not happy with it or the founding team is not happy with the name for personal taste reasons, and then it’s really disconnected. The customers might like the name, the customers understand the name, it’s never been a hindrance to their growth, it’s just a personal thing where they never really liked the name they chose in the early days. And as they see some more success eventually they feel compelled to tackle that and change the name. I think that those are the situations that are the most tricky, where changing the name is a very selfish thing and can work out, but has a lot of risks involved, right? Because people have known you for something, your customers obviously like the name, or didn’t care enough to buy the customers, so now changing your name means changing the perception in the entire market to understand that you’re not this other name anymore. It can create a lot of friction, confusion. Sometimes with names you might, if you don’t do enough homework you might choose a name that means something in another language or another culture that then can create friction if you’ve not been [inaudible] and sensitive about it and people really hate it. So there’s a lot of risk and sometimes the reward is not as big. The reward is almost always not big in the short term, right? Naming the company differently is not going to double your traffic, it’s not going to get you a lot more customers, it’s not going to make people convert at a high rate. More likely than not it’s going to create some friction and confusion, so it’s going to slow down things at first. So you really need to be thoughtful and like, is this purely a taste and selfish thing, or is this really something that’s in the best interest of the business and your customers?
Hiten Shah: Yep. I couldn’t say it better myself. I think people are going to rebranding for, a lot of times, just the wrong reason. We just want to change it, we don’t like it. That’s not the best reason, so really think through why you want to do it. That will really help you figure out what that new name should be.
Steli Efti: I love it. All right, that’s it from us for this episode. We’ll keep it short and sweet. If you’re pulling off a rebrand, I’m actually interested in this topic. If you’re currently changing your name or shortening it, or changing your domain, or changing anything around your naming or the branding of your company or product, and you want to share some lessons learned, some thoughts or get some more specific contextual feedback, just reach out to us, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org. We always love to hear from you. Until next time, we’ll be here very soon.
Hiten Shah: Cheers.