To change the name or not to change the name?
Lots of companies find themselves in a conundrum where they’ve been in business for a few years and established a strong brand, but something has made them wonder whether they should change their name. Maybe it’s a PR crisis. Maybe their current name is confusing or not doing them justice. Maybe they merged with another company and don’t know which name to keep.
Either way, it seems terrifying and awkward to change your name. Will my old/current customers know who I am? What about all the legal implications? Will people be confused? There are so many things to consider when making this decision, but a few companies have braved the waters and thrived because of it.
There are several examples of big corporations that (for better or for worse) have changed their name, but today I got an email about a small business that got it right.
Photography is one of those tricky industries when it comes to branding. Everyone looks and sounds the same. Each new business owner does the same thing that their peers are doing because it seems to work, and they’re scared to do anything too different. The problem is that the average customer can’t tell anyone apart, so they’re left confused and unimpressed.
Luckily, Ryan and Denise Gotcher, a husband and wife who have a wedding photography business in Arizona, seem to “get it.” (Yes, this story has a personal tie – they took pictures at my wedding – but nonetheless, I think they’re a great example of a good case study for changing your company name.)
Ryan and Denise own a business called Simply Knot Photography. They’ve been in business for a few years, have a solid client base, and have grown the business quite a bit. But after a few years, they started realizing the name just wasn’t working. People weren’t understanding it when they said it out loud (“Simply Not?? Ooooh k-n-o-t! Like tying the knot – I get it!”), and they were referring their friends to “Ryan and Denise” not “Simply Knot.”
Normally, I’m not a huge fan of mixing your personal name and company name. After all, what if someone besides you ends up running the business someday? What if you decide to sell it or no longer want to be the face of the company? But with Ryan and Denise, it just makes sense. I love their explanation for why they decided to make the change:
“We ARE our business. When our couples and favorite vendors talk about us, they say, ‘You have to check out Ryan & Denise! Oh yeah, and their website is Simply Knot Photography.’ When we launched our ShowIt website back in April 2011, one of our main goals was to make our branding more about US. When we started out, we kinda thought that people were booking us because we were good photographers. What we didn’t see at the time was that when you’re a bride looking for a photographer, everybody’s website starts to look the same to you, even if some photos are better than others. What stands out about us is who WE are. When people connect with us as people and as a couple, they are much more likely to remember us and think about what it would be like to have US as a part of their wedding day. Over the last year, we’ve accomplished what we set out to do with our brand. Making the leap to Ryan & Denise Photography brings this transition full circle.”
So kudos to you, Ryan and Denise! You guys are great role models for embracing the human side of your business. I admire the thought process that went into your decision and the guts it takes to actually go through with it.
For more background on their transition to the new name, check out their announcement here.