You can imagine the anguish companies experience when they decide to change their names to more accurately reflect the services and products they’re offering.
Will the new name convey the company’s new direction? Does it mean something offensive in a foreign language? Will customers go elsewhere? Does it accurately reflect the brand?
Or sometimes a company will change its name because the old one has negative connotations. Philip Morris (smoking and cancer) became Altria.
Should You Change Your Name?
I was prompted to write this post when learning that the trusted YouSendIt is now Hightail. Most of the company’s 43 million customers use the service to share large files. One-time use was free – I’ve used it to email large files or PowerPoint presentations. It’s a great service.
Has the company adequately explained why it changed its name? See if you can understand what’s new in this video on Hightail’s website.
The speakers would have benefited from presentation training. Their key services are listed on their website. The video offered an opportunity to expand on the key benefits instead of discussing their aspirations for the company. Customers don’t buy aspirations, they buy products and services. Where was the what’s in it for me?
I get that the company sees its future more broadly than just sending files. But someone – most probably the CEO – should explain clearly just what the new brand stands for.
Like most organizations, Hightail paid a corporate identity firm to help with the name change. The company could have chosen “Hightail It.” That might have been a more descriptive name. The Thesaurus definition “flee; take to one’s heels; cut and run” probably ruled that out.
I wonder if customers outside the U.S. will understand what Hightail means? The word comes pretty close to being jargon.
If You’re Thinking of a Name Change
If you’re thinking of changing your company’s name, ask yourself these questions:
- Is it really necessary to change the name or are we doing it because we’re bored with old one?
- Does the new name accurately convey our brand essence?
- Have we tested the new name with our customers and do they feel it reflects our new services?
- Are we changing our name simply as an excuse to jack up our prices?
- Have we changed all our corporate signage, logos, stationery, and business cards?
- Are our advertising and promotional materials ready and in place for the launch of the new name?
- Do we have adequate budget to promote the new brand name?
- Have we explained to our own staff why the name change and what it means to them?
- Have we engaged our employees as brand advocates on social media to promote the new name and services?
Changing a company name – or even a logo — is fraught with peril, as the Gap learned when outraged customers forced the company to revert to its former logo.
Some companies make up new names combining letters such as Verizon – veritas (truth) and horizon (think sun). Another company – the former Andersen Consulting – paid a corporate identity firm to help with its name change, but also crowd-sourced its own employees.
Turns out they had the answer within their own ranks. The made-up name Accenture was submitted by an employee and was the overwhelming favorite of the firm’s 2,500 partners.
I just decided to see if anything has changed for folks like me who use YouSendIt, now Hightail, to send an occasional large file. So I emailed a file to myself. Still free. Arrived immediately. Worked like a charm.
Thanks, Hightail. Good luck with your new name and services.