Changing Your Company Name

by Debbie Gilster

in @Work

company name

Considering changing the name of your small business? We’ve changed our company name two times over the life of the business and boy, did we learn some lessons. Here is a checklist of things to remember to handle. I’ve listed some specific notes I thought would be helpful.  I hope our lessons will lessen your learning curve and transition pains.

 

Accounting templates and company name: Change your company name in your accounting software (like QuickBooks) and it will affect all standard reports.

Bank account: Bank will have to keep all DBA’s listed in your account. See what name they will list as primary.

Bio’s:  Add your new name to company bios to show the transition – “Jane Doe has been employed with Center for Growth and Productivity since its inception in 1998, when it was called Organize & Computerize.”

Business cards and other printed collateral: Get with your graphic designer and printer. This always takes longer than expected. Your new name may also require a new logo, which will need time to be produced. You may wish to consider new company colors at this time as well.

Checks

Collateral/company handouts: You’ll have many electronic files that print out your company name.

Credit cards with the business name

Domain name: Get your new domain name. Be sure to do a domain check FIRST to make sure the appropriate name is available. Then set up your old web address to transfer automatically to your new one for a period of time to ensure a smooth transition for your new and existing customers. Or, let your old home page direct visitors to your new home page.

Email address: Setup your mail software (like Outlook) to display your new email address. Tell people to use your new address. After a while, use an autoresponder to remind people to change their address books.

Email signature file: Put a reminder of your new company name (and web address, if applicable) in all out-going e-mails.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Fax cover templates and forms

Fictitious Business Name: Can usually complete the form online to start the process.

Internal memo template

Letterhead and envelope templates: Any computer programs that print out your company name.

Mail delivery people: Keep them in the loop so the mail keeps flowing regardless of what company name it has on it. You still want to receive your checks!

Merchant card provider: Call them or check their website. Most likely there is a form you have to complete and you will have to provide backup paperwork such as the new DBA. This may take a few days.

Newsletter email address: Inform readers you will be changing so they can update their spam blockers. This one can be painful if not managed right, especially if you have a large list.

Phone service provider: Change the name on your account and the name that shows up on caller id.  You can usually handle this by making a call to the company.

Resale license

Return address stamp: Will need to order a new stamp.

Shipping companies: Change the name on your account and notify delivery people. Get new pre-printed shipping forms.

Shipping labels

Subscriptions: Communicate with all your subscriptions, including magazines, professional organizations and other websites.  All of them should receive your new name information and update their records.

Voicemail message: Consider using an interim message with both your old and new company names.  “You have reached the Center for Productivity, formerly called Organize & Computerize…”

Website content (your own): This can all be done in advance under your new domain name. If it’s important to show how many years you’ve been in business, list your old name somewhere.

 

Do you have some ideas I haven’t mentioned?  Please let me know!. As I always say: Change is a process, not an event. Good luck!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Raia June 18, 2013 at 10:52 am

Don’t forget to reserve social media properties (hopefully they’re available). Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, etc. You’ll kick yourself if you wait to register twitter.com/newcompany name and someone else grabs it. The process for claiming an existing social media account isn’t always easy. Having your new company name trademarked certainly helps.

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emily July 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Another good idea.. let your vendors/marketing department/sales reps know about the name change as well.

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