Photo of handshake and quote: Helping organizations better define who they are, what they do, how they do it, and why anyone should care!

Branding Bytes Archives

Issue 35:
Thoughts On Using Social Media

Issue 34:
Reigning in Public-Private Partnerships

Issue 33:
Seven Ways to Avoid Toxicity In the Workplace

Issue 32:
A Few Bad Apples Bruise the Brand

Issue 31:
Branding Beyond the Logo

Issue 30:
The Yin and Yang of Celebrity Leadership

Issue 29:
Want to Raise More Funds? SPEAK UP!

Issue 28:
Government Funding Cuts: Act!

Issue 27:
"We Are Sorry":
Your Brand is Your Behavior

Issue 26:
Tell Your Story

Issue 25:
Good Leaders

Issue 24:
Think "People,"
Not "Organization"

Issue 23:
What's in a Name?
Just about Everything!

Issue 22:
Is Your Mission
Getting Creepy?

Issue 21:
Welcome to the Age
of the New Normal

Issue 20:
"Receptionist" vs Director of First Brand Impressions

Issue 19:
It's Not About How Your Message is Delivered

Issue 18:
When it Comes to Your Brand, Details Matter

Issue 17:
A Good Brand Requires TLC: Just Ask My Wife!

Issue 16:
Toxic-Work-Environment Syndrome Can Tarnish Your Brand

Issue 15:
Adjusting to the
New Face of Need

Issue 14:
Tired of all the Doom and Gloom? This is Your Time!

Issue 13:
A New Year's Resolution: Don't Cut Off Your Nose

Issue 12:
What You Do Is
About All of Us

Issue 11:
Ethical Standards
and Your Organization

Issue 10:
Leadership: Whose Journey is it, Anyway?

Issue 9:
Giving Circles
and Branding

Issue 8:
The World's Richest Men
— and Philanthropy

Issue 7:
What is an External
Brand Audit?

Issue 6:
Keeping Everyone
on Brand Message

Issue 5:
What is an Internal
Brand Audit?

Issue 4:
Turn Board Members into Better Brand Ambassadors

Issue 3:
Leadership, Vision
— and Branding

Issue 2:
What's 1st—Organization or Brand? / Govt. Cuts?—Branding Helps

Issue 1:
Branding Myths

Issue 23, Summer 2011

What's in a Name? Just about Everything!

"The name of our organization is too long, too hard to remember and doesn't reflect what we do." Or….

"Our name is too similar to that of a local competitor's, which confuses folks, including our clients and donors." Or….

"The name of our organization is Atlantic County Human Services. Over the years we've expanded to provide services to people in adjacent Pacific County, but because of our name we're finding it challenging to raise funds there." Or…

"Our name can be misconstrued to imply that we limit our services to people of a certain religion or segment of the population when in reality we offer our services to anyone in need."

Regardless of the reason(s), getting everyone in the organization to come to consensus on, then rebranding to, a new name is one of the hardest things an organization can undertake. I had one executive director tell me that the 12 months it took her to get her organization to change and rebrand to a new name was her "year from hell!"

Yet, as noted above, there are many good reasons for wanting to change an organization's name. For those considering the task, here are just some of the things you'll need to consider:

Do your research

Do you know for a fact that your organization's name is a problem, or is it simply an assumption on the part of staff?

And have you asked the right questions of the right people — namely your donors, clients, partners and others — and gotten their perspective on your organization's current name?

For example, how much brand equity — namely, how much name recognition and value do your target audiences place in your current name, and how will they react to your organization changing it?

Get your board's buy-in

Assuming there is good reason for a name change, is your board agreeable to the idea?

Many board members, especially those who might have been around when the organization was founded, may resist the change. For them it's a deep-seated ownership issue. "This is our baby and we're not going to change anything!"

Fact is you're going to need board approval for a name change. That's why it's important that your research produce objective, hard evidence that a name change is necessary for the ongoing sustainability of the organization.

Think creatively

Once your organization is in agreement that a name change is necessary, do you need to change to an entirely different name, or can your organization maintain its identity by simply using its acronym?

For example, realizing that its acronym had lots of brand equity, the once-named American Association of Retired Persons now legally does business solely as AARP.

Doing so essentially accomplished several things for the organization: (1) without having to go through an overly massive marketing, advertising and PR campaign, the organization was able to maintain its basic identity because many people were already informally referring to the organization as AARP; (2) AARP is a lot easier to remember and less a mouthful than its original name; and (3) the acronym eliminates the word "Retired", a good thing for AARP since it offers many of its programs, services and products to members who have yet to enter into retirement.

National Public Radio is another example of an organization that realized it could do business as its acronym, NPR.

If you're interested in this strategy, do the research to determine how well your target audiences would accept this. Since some acronyms are better than others, this is probably not an option for every organization, but it's worth exploring.

Avoid using geographic locations in your name

Because people identify with, and are often loyal to, the names of places in which they live and work, using a place location — such as a neighborhood, city, county or state — in your name may seem like a good idea at the moment.

If, however, over time your organization expands its base of operations to include other locales, its name may ultimately limit its ability to raise funds in these new areas of operation and make it difficult for the residents of those areas to identify closely with the organization.

My advice: Unless it is absolutely, unequivocally necessary to use a specific geographic location in your name, don't! It may save you a lot of hassles — and money — years from now.

Budget accordingly

When you take on a name change, everything from business cards to stationery to signage needs to be reprinted and reproduced. This can turn into quite an expense, especially for organizations with lots of employees and multiple sites.

You also will need to budget in the additional marketing and promotional costs necessary to get your target audiences acquainted with your new name.

Finally, make sure it's your name that needs changing

If you're changing your name because the organization is having a difficult time overcoming bad publicity or a bad image problem due to mismanagement or malfeasance on its part, think again. It may be that the organization needs to be changed; not its name.

As always, I look forward to receiving your feedback, questions, success stories and branding challenges. Also, if you are in need of a motivational speaker, trainer, branding consultant/coach, or management consultant who can help you answer the questions: Who are we? What do we do? How do we do it? And should anyone care? I invite you to for more information.

In the meantime, good luck with your branding! — Larry

About Branding Bytes

Branding Bytes is a FREE quarterly e-newsletter courtesy of Larry Checco of Checco Communications. Please feel free to forward Branding Bytes on to others. However, Branding Bytes is copyrighted and may not be reprinted or reproduced without attributing Larry Checco of Checco Communications as its source and providing the following website address: Thank you.


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