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Phil Cooke Podcast

Mar 5, 2019

Changing your business, ministry or non-profit name can re-invigorate your organization. Phil gives a checklist for leaders to think through before changing your name while considering brand equity before making the switch.


Sometimes the need to change a organization’s name is obvious, but more often, leaders can’t always put their finger on a good reason. In many cases, there’s so much brand equity and goodwill in a name, it’s not worth changing, but in other cases there are very good reasons to consider a switch.


It’s time to change your name when…


1. The mission changes. Perhaps you’re a nonprofit that began building water wells in Africa, but now you’re moving in a different direction. Your name should be identified with the organization’s mission, so when that mission changes, it may be time to change the name.


Cooke Pictures recently went through a name change to more accurately reflect the breadth of what we do. Cooke Media Group more clearly shares with our audience of pastors and ministry or non-profit leaders what we can offer them in amplifying their message to the world.


2. You expand or contract. Sometimes, an organization grows and offers new services or products, and sometimes an organization specializes so they can focus on a more narrowniche. Your name should reflect what you are doing at the moment. It may be time to change your name to reflect that shift.


3. Your current name is hurting your business. For instance, Phillip Morris, the tobacco industry behemoth, changed its name to Altria in 2001 to move away from the negative perceptions ofthe tobacco industry. In other situations an organization’s name can be caught up in negative publicity because of political or cultural changes. Changing a name can improve that perception.


4. There’s a major shift in technology or culture. Your name can become outdated over time. UPS was originally the American Messenger Company, but delivery services experienced a radical shift so they changed their name. In a different way, names like “First Baptist,” “Third Presbyterian,” and other legacy denominational church names don’t seem to resonate as much in today’s culture. Changes in these situations can often reinvigorate an organization.


5. Your name doesn’t translate internationally. Today the world is global. There’s an iconic story about Chevrolet launching the Nova model in Spain only to see sales tank. That’s when the marketing department realized that in Spanish, “Nova” means “no go.”


6. You can’t get the URL. Owning the website based on your company name and the social media platforms are critical in today’s digital world. If you can’t secure the URL and the appropriate social media handles that work with your name, then it might be time to change.


7. You can shorten it. Shorter and simpler is almost always better. A good example is Bearing Point. It started when two companies merged: Peat Marwick International and KlynveldMain Goerdeler. They could have been “Peat Marwick KlynveldMain Goerdeler” but changed the name to KPMG Consulting, and eventually Bearing Point. (It was a good move!)


Don’t discount what a new name can do for your organization. It can re-invigorate an organization and help people understand better what you do.


Grow your brand equity and influence! Phil’s book “Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media” is available here:

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