Choosing the right name for your charity, business or social enterprise
How to set your organisation up with a name that works for everyone
At Let’s Dance, we work with organisations of all shapes and sizes – some just starting out, others that have been around for years. As part of our brand development process, we’re often asked to come up with names for various projects, campaigns and services. Every now and then we’re asked to go one step further, and think about the name for an entire business.
This often coincides with a full rebrand, but it’s not always the case. For example, we once worked with an organisation who needed an urgent change when they found themselves with a similar name to another business operating in the same space. Another organisation came to us because the district where they operate was merging with another, meaning their name was suddenly obselete.
Sometimes a name simply no longer reflects what an organisation is all about. Whatever the reason, it’s always best to approach renaming your organisation with the same thorough methodology –
Consider your audience
The people who interact with you on a daily basis need to understand at a glance who you are and what you believe in. Depending who your primary audience is – service users, professional partners, the general public – you’ll want to consider just how literal and descriptive your name needs to be. If you’re a public-facing organisation, something more emotive and symbolic may be a better fit.
Ask yourself some obvious questions. What would be easy to remember? Is it clear how to pronounce it? Is it obvious how to spell it? Is it too clever for its own good? Does it lean too heavily on alienating regional slang? Is it too similar to something else? Does it use clichés? Is it too long? Does it rely on an unclear acronym? At this point, you may also want to start considering the type of logo that will suit – a wordmark, an icon, or a combination of the two.
Settle on a shortlist
Start off by throwing around as many suggestions as you can. No idea is a bad idea, as it might lead you to hit upon something new or take you in a completely different direction. Figure out some favourites and whittle them down to a list of about ten. At this point, remember to consider things like potential clashes with other areas of the business, trademarking issues, or how the name might impact your SEO.
Another tactic is to rule out what you don’t want. It can make the selection process so much easier once you’ve decided, for example, you don’t want to sound too serious, that you don’t want to use a certain letter or word, or you don’t want your name to run on for three or four words. This kind of thinking can sharpen your focus on what you do want.
Get internal buy-in
Although key stakeholders and decision-makers will probably be involved in the renaming process, it’s often a good idea to open up the shortlist to a wider number of people across the organisation. Having lots of eyes on the list will help flag up any issues a potential name might cause, but allowing people to vote on their favourites will also help foster a sense of ownership over the new direction.
Remember – everyone who works or volunteers for your organisation will have an automatic connection to the name, especially if it’s where they spend the vast majority of their time. It’s important that everyone – from the founder of the company to the new member of staff who only joined last week – feels happy and comfortable working somewhere with the name you choose. Another good question to ask yourself is “will people be proud to put this on their CV?”
Make sure it resonates
Finding a name that ticks all boxes isn’t always as simple as it might seem. There are so many factors to consider, not to mention the personal investment and emotional attachment of your members, customers or service users. Ideally, you want to strike the right balance of suggesting what you’re all about without relying on jargon or falling into the trap of being too abstract or vague.
It’s also worth revisiting your core brand values at this point. If your name is a reflection of what you believe in, it’s likely to resonate both inside and outside your organisation. Your name has to communicate something about who you are, but it doesn’t necessarily have to tell your entire story. What you’re likely looking for is a name that feels like a natural fit – one that seems like it’s been around forever – rather than a name that’s needlessly provocative or overly clever.
Communicate the name change
Once you’ve settled on a new name, it’s time to tell everyone! It’s important to update all physical signage and print materials, along with digital touchpoints such as your website, email signatures and social media channels. Pre-existing documents and reports can often be updated with a freshly designed front cover.
Whether it’s part of a full rebrand or not, it’s worth considering holding an in-person event, with some kind of handout to communicate not only your new name, but also your goals and ambitions for your exciting new chapter. A simple video animation transition from the old to the new can also go a long way towards educating people of the change.
Of course, naming your organisation is just one piece of the puzzle. Whenever we’re commissioned to come up with a new name, we usually create a logo at the same time – either by adapting an existing logo or designing a new one from scratch. We also regularly make suggestions for new slogans, straplines and key messages.
We offer a variety of workshops to help organisations figure out their new direction, including those centred around brand discovery, messaging and digital strategy. If you’d like to know more, get in touch!