“My business (Elegant Ensembles) has been around 28 years now, and I’ve brought two DJs in their late 20’s on as junior partners (their business is AMG entertainment).
“I’ve absorbed their business into mine, but we’ve been going in circles on rebranding our company…EE seems a bit dated (Ensembles does sound kind of classical), AMG young (and there is an NYC event group with that name, although it looks like décor), and I hate to get a brand new name… Any thoughts?”
Mark Eliasof, Elegant Ensembles
Answer: Change your name when it negatively impacts your business.
It can certainly be a royal pain in the butt to change the name of your business. It’s not something you’d want to do on a whim, like getting a new haircut.
Yet there may come a time when your business name becomes a liability, rather than an asset. Then it needs to be addressed.
Changing your business name is recommended when:
• It causes confusion for clients. If couples can’t tell what you do, or your name is misleading, it’s costing you business. You’re losing money and you don’t even know it.
• Your name no longer matches your business. This is the case for you, since your business identity has expanded beyond ceremony music into DJ entertainment.
• It’s part of a branding or business overhaul. If your business name no longer matches the audience you wish to serve, it needs to change. An example of this would be a company called Affordable Entertainment that wants to target high end weddings. The very name drives away the clients they want to attract!
• People can’t say, spell or remember your name. If people can’t remember your business name, or if it’s impossible to spell, they won’t be able to find you online. This is particularly important if a substantial part of your business comes from word of mouth referrals.
The 10 Second Test
When we do website analyses for our clients, we give their websites something we call the 10 Second Test.
Within 10 seconds of landing on your site, does the visitor clearly know what you do, who you do it for, and where you’re located?
If there is any confusion, that first impression of uncertainly is transferred to your wedding business. It creates distrust at an unconscious level, leaving a negative impression that positions you poorly in the mind of a potential customer.
Your business name, whether it’s encountered on your website or elsewhere in your marketing, has a similar impact.
It’s natural for your growing business to change its direction over time. When its name becomes a mismatch, as it is in your case, it’s time to take action.
Minimize the Mess
There are a few actions that can ease the transition into a new business name. It can take the pain from the level of a kidney stone (they say it’s worse than child birth!) down to that of an itty bitty bee sting.
#1 – Choose a name that’s similar to your old one. Switching your name to Elegant Ensembles & DJ Entertainment might do the trick, though it’s a little long.
#2 – Roll out a marketing campaign to announce the change. You’ll want to make all your current and past business associates aware of your new name. Done correctly, it’s an excellent opportunity for promotion and brand visibility, especially if you combine it with a contest or celebration.
#3 – Tack on “formerly known as…” until the word gets out. If your new name is very different from the old one, it’s a good idea to announce the old name in conjunction with the new so your past customers and referral partners know they’re in the right place.
#4 – Take care of the legal stuff. The trickiest piece is making sure your paperwork is in order. It’s best to check with your accountant and lawyer to make sure you don’t get in trouble when your business “disappears.” Here’s a guide for changing your business name in the U.S.
Our old DJ mentor told us he wished he’d named his business after himself, rather than the name he chose, DJ Music & More. No one ever remembered his business name; they just referred DJ Joe Dube.
It was a lesson we should have heeded more carefully when we asked, “What should I name my wedding business?” because the same thing happened to us!
Don’t beat yourself up if you’re in a position where it makes sense to change your name. Weigh the pros and cons, then get ‘er done.
What do you think? Have you ever changed your business name?