Optimize My Brand

Strategy, tactics, ideas and tips from Creative Company.

Business names … keep the old or create newly?

What’s in a business name? Plenty!

As a company grows and evolves, business conditions change and target markets shift, new business names may be considered. It might be time to refocus, to abandon out-of-date language, or to simplify and streamline.

You’ve probably noticed changes in business names … whether from buyouts or consolidations, or just a business choosing a simpler, more progressive alternative. They can be a focus to gain recognition, or to tell a fresh story of what the company offers and how the new name is moving them forward.

  • Federal Express became FedEx to simplify and echo what people were calling them anyway, and they rebranded around the new, shorter name
  • A men’s clothing store in Salem, Oregon that was The Gay Blade … in the ’80s changed their name to “The Blade” … don’t need to tell you why! (but it wasn’t enough, the store is now out of business)
  • Or the phone company U.S. West became Qwest, simpler to read and speak, and a double meaning

Consolidating under one bold new name

business names as Western Oregon Waste logoHere in our hometown of McMinnville, Oregon we worked with a garbage company that wanted to merge multiple names of different regional franchises under one name. Why? Simplify communications. Save costs (only one set of truck graphics, one set of roll carts, etc.). Help employees connect as one team, and not different groups.

After a series of meetings with company leadership, the client came up with Western Oregon Waste. He wanted to be WOW, really! We asked, “how far do you want to go?” The result? Bright, bold, easy to read and incredibly memorable WOW graphics on roll carts and trucks in all the communities served. A big success. The type of new business name people talk about. But the even bigger success? How the name and graphics unified WOW’s people.

“At the time, I wasn’t sure I really wanted to make the investment in re-branding KE Enterprises as Western Oregon Waste. But given the success of WOW, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Our new brand has had a major impact on our business. Now we have a big, bright, positive presence in the communities we serve. WOW has become a rallying point and morale-booster for our staff.”  Joe Cook, CFO

This food broker wanted to be recognized

Originally Cascade Fruit and Nut, this company was aiming for big growth as brokers of industrial food ingredients. Based in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, there was already an over-abundance of “Cascade” names, easily confused with one another. The original name was also too limiting as the company had grown beyond fruit and nuts. Now they’re global, representing food ingredient sellers worldwide, and working with food manufacturers everywhere.

business names for foodguysWith strong leadership and a dedication to solving clients’ problems and helping them succeed, they are known as the foodguys.

The go-to guys, the get-er-done guys. The name and brand is easy to remember and focused on their purpose. It opens the door to engaging phone conversations. When you think of business names, what’s a good fit? Can it be playful and memorable? We think foodguys was a great choice.

Where do you start with business names?

There are many reasons to rename, just a few are shown above. Start by looking at who the business is, how you’re seen in your market and your category. Then design where you want to go. By digging into positioning and key messages first, you’ll have the framework for a new name that rings true to your audiences.

This was our strategy for renaming the Enterprise for Employment and Education to Job Growers Inc. The process allowed the organization to clarify who they are and what value they offer to their audiences. It also gave the board of directors key ideas and messages to share.

Talk to us. Or use the worksheet below to begin the process. Consider tone and personality. Simplicity. How the name is read and spoken. Seems like you’re ready for a new business name … and rebrand. Yes?


About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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