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Scared of Changing Your Business Name? How to Decide

by Natalia Sylvester

February 25, 2016 / Updated: April 19, 2022

We’ve given you lots of looks behind the process of developing a new business name. But deciding to change your business name is also its own process—and a very emotional one, to boot! From that initial hesitation to let go of the old, to the elation that comes with a beautiful new identity that’s a perfect fit, changing your name can be quite the journey.

Here’s how Tonia and Dennis, owners of the shop formerly known as Fashionable Fabrics, arrived at the decision to pursue a new name.

Step 1: The nudge.

When Tonia and Dennis contacted us to help them sell fabric by quarter-yard, they had no plans to change their 11-year-old business name and logo. They wanted a redesigned website that would help them stand out from the rest; to achieve this, we knew they would need a strong brand identity. Arianne proposed making a new name priority number one, because a strong brand identity is the foundation for any great marketing tool, including web design:

“I do think the way to make yourself stand out is to work with us on a personality for your business. [Fashionable Fabrics] doesn’t tell a story about what your business is like. Working on your brand identity is going to be a huge help in establishing yourself as a legitimate contender in the world of online fabric.”

Decades of experience and hundreds of web designs have taught us that a strong brand is essential; it’s what points any business in the right direction. In addition, a generic name is very difficult to trademark, making it hard for you to ever truly own your brand. We suggested cutting down on the website budget, if need be, in order to focus on a new identity:

“Starting with a simple website design featuring a strong brand will allow you to start smart, build your following, and then upgrade to a custom-designed website in the future. If we design a custom site around an ineffective brand identity, there will be no way to move forward without starting over.”

Step 2: The hesitation

Tonia and Dennis were not initially convinced a new name was the way to go. They liked the name, the fact that it had the word “fabric” in it, and that it had helped them get a strong SEO ranking.

“Changing the name is scary for us. Our instinct says don’t change it, but this is another reason why we are hiring you. Can you guide us through the thought process?”

Step 3: The logic from a marketing perspective

With the help of our marketing consultant and our copywriter, Sam guided Tonia and Dennis through the reasoning behind our push for a name change.

Jena’s main concern was that the current name was actually a bit misleading; the store sold novelty fabric, not necessarily fabric for fashion. Someone searching for fashion fabric might indeed land on their page, but would they find what they were looking for? A high SEO ranking is not of much use if it’s not resulting in conversions.

Natalia also agreed that a new name was in order, but worried that if the client wasn’t fully on board with the decision, no name would ever seem like a good fit. Changing a name is a commitment a business owner has to make whole-heartedly, and with a mind wide open to new ideas.

Step 4: The greenlight

After much thought, Tonia and Dennis agreed to change the name, and we were off to the races! As we learned more about their business and personality, it became clear that they were a shop with a lot of heart. For Tonia, sewing is a way to make something old new again. It’s a way to give a gift that also contains a piece of yourself, because it was made with love by hand.

We agreed that we didn’t want to do a play on words/sewing terms—there are already several brands out there doing this in unique and innovative ways, and it was important for Tonia and Dennis to stand out.

Instead, we focused on names that spoke directly to sewists and makers, to emphasize the sense of community that sewing creates. We explored our softer sides and mined the emotions behind the healing aspects of sewing. We also got a bit personal, digging into names that might tie to a location, family history, or story that meant something special to Tonia and Dennis.

After much deliberation, brainstorming and inspiration, Tonia and Dennis were reminded of a character from an Oscar Wilde play. Over time, this character’s name came to represent a secret excuse for sneaking off to spend some time doing something you love. This direction got us all excited—it was exactly what we’d been discussing: abstract, yet fully capturing the brand’s true spirit. The winning name was an uncontested favorite: Bunbury. It’s memorable, fun to say, and has a special meaning behind it. Most importantly, it tells a story about what sewing means to Tonia and Dennis, and its playful, whimsical personality says, “come visit our shop and stay a while!”

bunbury changing your business name

Tonia and Dennis recently told us:

The real struggle for us with the name change was not SEO, I knew that with some extra effort we could translate our SEO over. Our hesitation came from having such a long history with Fashionable Fabrics. By the time we approached Aeolidia, Fashionable Fabrics had been around for over 10 years. Changing our name now felt like we were walking away from years of hard work and starting over. It was especially hard to hear the feedback that Fashionable Fabrics was not a good name or brand that we could/should build on. Looking back, Aeolidia was right to start with the name/brand change. It took us awhile to see the bigger picture, especially when the first few rounds of names did not turn up something that seemed to fit. When we finally came up with Bunbury, the picture became a lot more clear. It was a perfect fit and really spoke to who we are and why we run this business. We knew it would be a lot more work to rebrand, but ultimately we would be much better off. We were so pleased after seeing the work Sarah had done with our ideas and the Bunbury name. It was tough, but we are grateful that Aeolidia gave us the nudge we needed to make this change.

Have you been thinking about changing your business name but haven’t been able to make the leap?

Contact us for expert and honest feedback about your marketing goals and name! If you’re wondering how to change your business name without losing customers, we follow up with what was next for Bunbury in this post: How to Rebrand Without Losing Customers.

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