I've done a lot of re-branding projects over the years and one of the biggest concerns voiced by most business owners is that they are scared they will lose all of their customers if they change the businesses name. They know they need to update their brand, but they are really worried about doing it.

I always found this a surprising and totally unfounded fear. In my opinion if changing your businesses name results in your losing a pile of customers you never really had them in the first place.

Surely it makes good business sense to change your business name if it no longer serves you, specifically if it has become dated, perhaps no longer really describing what you offer?

The following 7 strategies will help any business to make a smooth transition into a new, more relevant and appropriate name:

  1. Let everyone know well ahead of time (as in several months) that you are changing the businesses name. You will get sick of telling them about the name change long before they get sick of hearing about it.
  2. Use various mechanisms to pass this news on. Don't assume everyone will read a letter or an email. Put a notice in your reception, on your website, on your email signature, on your letterhead, on your invoices - everywhere.
  3. Don't stop telling people about your name change afterwards. Keep the messaging going for at least three months. The message changes a little, now it becomes "formerly (insert old business name)".
  4. Make sure your staff really understand why you are doing the name change and what it means to them. People can get a little concerned that they will lose their job when there are big changes in the business. It's important that they feel a part of the name change.
  5. Try to make the name change a celebration. Have a function, launch the new brand, try and get some media along and certainly put it all over social media.
  6. Don't be tight with old stationery. Don't wait for the old letterheads to be used up. From the date of the new business name, recycle all old stationery. Sending a combination of old and new will confuse your customers.
  7. Appreciate that it will take your regulars some time to get used to the new business name. That's normal - and perfectly fine. I know a business that changed its name 20 years ago and most people still call it by its old name, even though it is totally irrelevant to what the business sells today.

The bottom line, don't let fear of losing customers stop you from re-energizing your business with a name and brand change.