Naming versus Renaming

naming-versus-renaming

Naming and renaming are quite two different things, even if they have the same result: creating a new brand name.

We have talked a lot about naming on our blog in the past, but naming is not the only thing we do. We have worked on renaming projects also and those experiences taught us that renaming requires a lot more caution than the naming process.

Now it is time to explain what are the differences between those two: naming and renaming.

Naming requires creating a new brand name from the scratch

Creating a new brand name means coming up with a “birth name” for a baby product, company, service and so on. You have a new baby future brand coming on the market without any personality yet. It’s like a stone block that you need to carve in order to build and shape its personality as a brand.

Once you made the brief and you know exactly how the new brand should look like, you can start the work of finding the perfect name for the brand, by following the naming process.

Renaming requires changing the name of an existing brand

In case of a renaming, the situation is different because you have to find a new name for an existing brand, a new name which SUCCESSFULLY replaces the previous name. We have highlighted the word “successfully” because renaming is a risky process and a wrong decision can ruin the entire brand and business forever. If the new name doesn’t do a better job than the previous one, than the renaming process is useless.

Of course, renaming is a part of an entire rebranding process, but the name is one of the most important assets of a brand, that’s why it has a distinct process to follow within the rebranding process.

Not always rebranding involves changing the name of a brand. In many rebranding cases, the whole personality of the brand is changed, starting from core values, brand promise, positioning, visual identity, but the name of the brand is kept. This is happening for a lot of reasons, and one of the most important is the fact that a brand name which is used for a very long time and it was not affected by different factors like PR crisis, trademark issues or other strategic business changes, has great value on the market and changing it can be very risky for that business.

In the cases where the rebranding process includes also changing the name of the brand, the renaming is different than the naming process.

Let’s see why and how:

  1. Naming is “building”, renaming is “rebuilding”.

As mentioned earlier, when you create a new name for a new brand you have a completely unexplored possibilities and total freedom to start the work.

In a renaming process, you always take into account the old values, personality and promises of the brand. For instance, if a company with a sober personality and tone of voice needs to change its name in order to be fresher on the market and to meet better the expectations of younger customers, considering its previous personality, it cannot come up with a very science-fiction and futuristic name. The difference would be huge, it would produce a lot of confusion in customer’s mind and they may refuse to buy from that company further on, just because they feel they lost the connection.

That’s why, when you rename a brand, you have to rebuild on its previous foundation.

  1. The renaming is the last shot

There are several reasons which make the renaming necessary, like getting away from a negative brand image, trademark problems or acquisitions. In such situations, if you change the name and you do not do it well, you will ruin your business forever. Renaming is your last shot to save the brand and you are not allowed to fail. That’s why a renaming process is much harder, because it is much more risky.

For instance, the SciFi Channel, a television channel from USA, changed its name in Syfy Channel, because they couldn’t trademark SciFi, so they chose the alternate spelling Syfy. The problem is that in most parts of the world, "syfy" is a slang term for syphilis. Unfortunately, the name change alienated many longtime fans, and it was completely ridiculed.

  1. Renaming requires a transition process

In naming, after you launched the brand on the market, all you have to do is to push it as much as you can to increase its awareness amongst the market and your target audience.

But in a renaming case, you should take into consideration a transition process, especially for FMCG products, but not only. Your brand is the name your customers pronounce. If you have to change it for various reasons, you have to think about customers adoption. They need time to get used with the new name and you have to do it strategically. There are a lot of strategies that can be applied in a transition period. For instance, you can keep the old visual identity and packaging of the product and change only the name, for a limited period of time. After the customers get used with the name, you can change the visual identity also.

  1. Choosing THE NAME in a renaming process is harder than in the naming process

Even if we like it or not, choosing the perfect name will always be both an objective and subjective decision, based on the feeling “I like it/I don’t like it”.

Unfortunately, in a renaming process the subjective aspects is much powerful, to “I love it/I don’t love it”. Think that one day you have to change your birth name. You were “Paul” for 35 years, but from now on you will have a different name. Which would it be: John? Edward? Michael? Though decision.

The companies are run by people. And people have feelings, have preferences, memories and so on. They are attached by the brand they built or they ran for a certain period of time. If they are not truly convinced and they fell in love with a name instantly, the chances to remain stuck in this decision, even for a year, are huge.

So, if you are going through a renaming process, be prepared to feel like this is the hardest decision of your life.

If naming is not easy, renaming is not easy at all. If you do not have the necessary knowledge and experience you have the possibility to not take the best decisions for your brand. When choosing the right name, make sure you are doing in the right way.

Do you need our support in a naming or renaming project? Write us and tell us more about your brand.

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