A business name hatched when starting a new venture can seem to be not working out as a business owner delves deeper into the market. If you are that business owner, you may be asking “how to change my business name?” Many businesses tend to feel the need to change their trade name for several reasons. From trademark issues and scandal about some other brand with a similar sounding name to the evolution of the business into a state that makes the existing name incongruous with the brand image.
Regardless of your reason for changing your business name, it is a difficult task. You also risk losing any brand recognition you have garnered under your existing name. However, if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, take the trouble by all means. Here’s how you can successfully pull it off. Maybe you should also check How to Trademark A Business Name?
While this article is a guide to your understanding of the things involved in how to change your business name. It does not substitute consultation with a professional lawyer. Altering your business name might have legal implications. Especially if you are incorporated as a company instead of being a sole proprietor or running a partnership business. You must seek advice from a licensed attorney dealing with business matters before proceeding to take the required steps.
Essential Steps to Change Your Business Name
Select the new name after careful research and analysis
When renaming your business, be excessively meticulous to ensure that this time around you get it right. Begin with checking the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and using its search tool for trademarks to find out if your new name has too much similarity with someone else. If not, then check for the availability of the domain name by using an accredited registrar. Finally, visit your secretary of state’s website to run a final screening and confirm that your new name hasn’t been registered in your state already.
You also must consider the implications on your customers’ part too. If they are familiar with your old name, starting over may be accompanied with some hesitation. It can’t be stressed enough how much your new name must be oriented to suit well with your business in the long run. Take your time to choose the name that represents the essence of your brand and reflects your unique value propositions.
You may be inclined to fall back on the knowledge you have of your old brand. It’s thus important to define your new brand with no preset bias, and brainstorm names that relate to your audience meaningfully. Besides, the name should have a ring to it, so it’s not too hard to spell or difficult to pronounce and is not likely to sound outdated soon. Last, don’t forget to differentiate your brand name, so it tells your own story rather than picking on trends.
Notify the secretary of the state where your business is registered
The state office will provide you a form for the name change of your business. Different states identify these forms with different names. You can find the link to your state’s office by visiting usa.gov. There is usually a fee imposed for the application to change the name. You may be required to officially file an amendment with the state or file a DBA for the new name.
Change licenses and permits
Almost every business has licenses and permits issued by various levels of government. Contact each of these different offices associated with your business. And the permits required for your particular business type to take necessary measures for changing the name on the relevant forms, along with the fees that may apply.
Notify the IRS
The IRS has particular requirements based on your business. Visit their website and read about the specific requirements that apply to your case. Find out which forms you need to fill up and what options to mark by thoroughly reading the instructions on the website. In certain cases, the process is easy while for others it might be more complicated.
Apply for a new EIN
Your businesses may need to apply for and receive a new employer identification number (EIN). Check out the IRS Publication 1635 [PDF] to determine if the reapplication for EIN is a requirement for you.
Update all branding elements and your business documents
To implement your renaming/rebranding process, update all the visual branding elements you have been using. This would include replacing your business logo, letterheads, business cards, and stationery, as well as your website and any additional visual items such as datasheets. Your new name and logo in all your business forms, communication signage, and websites must be promptly incorporated. Get in touch with your website administrator, asking them to redirect your website to your new domain that reflects the new name of your business.
Communicate with your customers
A name change sometimes takes place because of a merger with another company or an acquisition as a business purchases or gets purchased by another. A new management might assume control, or some incidental issues could prompt a fresh start. If that’s the case with your business, let your customers know as soon as possible that you’re still conducting your business.
Briefly explain why there was a change in your business name and even celebrate the change if it marks a progressive step to the future. This will make the transition smooth with no impact on your credibility. And help maintain your customers’ confidence as you move on with building your new brand.
Finally, the name of your business is the cornerstone of your brand image. If the name is falling short of aptly reflecting your brand, products, or market. You will need to go through the hectic process of changing it. When a strong reason for a name change arises, consider the new name carefully to be 100% sure that it is well-aligned to fit the evolving needs of your business in the long term. Last but not the least, follow the legal steps to avoid future issues.