April 1, 2022
Thinking of a new and clever company name is just the first step of the process. It’s also often the most fun and creative part. The rest? Generally full of a tedious to-do list. Nevertheless, it’s important that you consider a few very important steps before you announce your shiny new name to the outside world.
Any Potential Trademark Issues?You’d be surprised how many names are already out there and being used by other companies. It’s part of the reason many new tech companies use strange words that don’t exist. It prevents any trademark issues and ensures the name is entirely unique. As a small business owner, you want to make sure you’ve got this covered. Otherwise a larger competitor may land you with a nasty cease and desist letter. Not exactly a cheap problem to tackle. Based in the United States? This official trademark search tool will help you figure out whether you have anything to worry about. Most countries will have a similar online service that does the same thing.
Update Your Social Media and WebsiteThis transfer process is super important. Considering just how important having an online presence is these days, you don’t want to lose out on existing traction on your accounts using your previous name. For your website, for example, you want to create clean redirects to the new domain. Every single individual page will require a 301 redirect to its new equivalent. Don’t be lazy and do a generic redirect to the homepage, or you’ll lose leads and rankings on Google. Of course, give your audience a head’s up before you make the final transition. You don’t want to confuse people by flicking a switch without warning. It may lead to a sudden flurry of lost followers and potential customers.
Update Your Paper TrailWe’re often so involved with the online side of business, that we entirely forget the importance of traditional tools of the trade. Before you make that name change official, make sure you’re ready with new stationary, invoices, letterheads, and everything else. Particular focus should be given to your new business cards and marketing materials. If you haven’t yet leveraged old school marketing methods, invest in these now. They're great (and often quite cheap!) ways of getting ahead of the competition.
Notify the AuthoritiesThis is an obvious one, sure, but you’d be surprised by just how many people miss out at least one of these:
- Secretary of State. For those of you in the United States, you need to let your state know that you’re changing your name. There is usually a fee attached to doing this. Other countries have similar rules for their provinces, counties, states, etc.
- Change your permits and licenses. Depending on what your business does, there’s every chance you need a specific permit to operate. Remember to let all relevant parties know that you have changed the name of your business.
- Let the tax office know. Whether it’s the IRS, HMRC, or your local equivalent, you need to update the tax authorities.
- Insurance. This one can be a very expensive mistake for businesses. If you forget, they may use a legal loophole to void your insurance, should you need it. Insurance companies are notorious for doing everything they can not to pay out.