Wednesday, February 6, 2013

what I've learned:: changing your business name

When I decided last year to change my business name, I really had no idea how it would go. I had established myself fairly well as "From the Aisle to Aloha" and I loved that name. It felt like 'me' and I couldn't imagine changing to something different. Thankfully, inspiration struck and the name 'Hello Hue' came to me. The changeover went seamlessly and now Hello Hue feels just as much my identity as 'Aisle to Aloha' did, perhaps even more so.

I've had emails and tweets from several of you asking about the process of changing over your business name. It's scary, and understandably so. We spend so much time building up our online identity and it's daunting to think about starting everything over again.

Here are a few things that I learned that may be helpful if you are considering your own big change. 

Find a name that you love. 

This might be obvious, but just because you have the urge to change things up, doesn't mean you have to rush into things. Take time to brainstorm what you want your brand to be all about. Find a name that reflects who you are and where you want to go.

In my case, I knew I wanted my name to reflect a brand that was welcoming, full of color, and fresh. I wanted something that could follow me anywhere when we moved locations (in a way that 'Aisle to Aloha' could not). And I wanted it to be short and sweet. From those parameters, I spent a few months brainstorming, bouncing ideas off of Chris and sitting on names once I thought of one I liked. Eventually, one day in the shower, the name Hello Hue came to me and it stuck.

Think longterm. Will this name stick or does it pigeonhole you?

Say it outloud. Does it sound good?

Google it. Did someone else get to it first? Is the domain name available?

Ask friends. Are there any weird associations? Does it feel like 'you' to them?




No need to start from scratch. 

If you're worried that changing your business name means starting from scratch with your followers, traffic and customers, never fear. Most of the platforms you use make it simple to switch your name over.

Twitter and Instagram make it simple to change your username without any change in followers. Just check out the Settings pages.

Facebook's policies are that you may only change your username if your page has less than 200 likes. This means that I had to start over from scratch. It was a bit of a pain, but obviously, I had no other choice. I gave plenty of fair warning to my Aisle to Aloha facebook fans and most hopped over to the new page.

On Etsy, you may instantly change your shop name once. After that, shop name change will be up for review by Etsy. So, for me to change from Aisle to Aloha Studio, it was very simple. And that was the only thing that changed. I kept all of my favorites, sales and feedback.

So what about Blogger? Obviously, you can change your design to whatever you want. So, that's relatively simple. To change your URL, you'll need to go to Account Settings, and then Publishing. You can change the URL there (provided that it is not already taken).

In my case, hellohue.blogspot.com was taken. Boo. But I took the opportunity to claim my own domain name (hellohue.com). You can do this under the same Publishing tab, it costs $10 per year and it redirects when anyone types in your old web address (aisletoaloha.blogspot.com in my case).

(I don't know how Wordpress or other host sites work for changing your URL. If you do, chime in with a comment!)

You'll also (most likely) need to change your email address. You can create a new (free) email address on Gmail. I had my AisletoAloha emails forwarded to HelloHue email for the first few months and always replied with my new email. After a few months, I no longer had anyone emailing me at AisletoAloha, though I check it about once a month to doublecheck.

I will say, that some of my readers found that my feed disappeared from their Google Reader. I'm not 100% why, but with a quick re-subscription, it was fixed. So, make your readers aware of that. 

Give fair warning


 I began preparing my readers and followers for the change probably about a month out from when I made the switch. You can do this by offering sneak peeks of your new branding, giving countdowns to the switch and reminding Facebook fans that there will soon be a new page to 'like'. 

I think this is one of the reasons that things went so seamlessly with my switcheroo. I talked up the changeover enough that people were excited to see what the new branding would be. There's got to be a balance, of course, and you don't want the switch to be the only thing you talk about.  

You could also have a sidebar announcement on your blog, share your brainstorming sessions for new names, or even take a vote if you are stuck on ideas. Involve your readers and followers! 


Have fun with re-branding! 

Once you've got the perfect new name, have figured out the technicalities, and given the heads up to your readers, it's time to re-brand! You could potentially keep the same branding for the new name, but what's the fun in that?

Work with a designer on a professional new logo.

(I've enjoyed working with Oana, Leonora and Designer Blogs. I'd LOVE to work with Hey Sweet Pea or October Ink!)

Get a fresh blog look.

Order new business cards.

Rework your packaging to reflect the new brand.

Get a new headshot taken!

Even with all of these changes, I think it's still possible to maintain a consistency to your brand as a whole. When I switched from Aisle to Aloha, I still wanted to keep the same bright and cheery atmosphere (in my blog, shop, packaging, content, etc.) but with a fresh look. You don't have to completely disregard your old brand. Stay true to you!


So, that's how I went about the renaming of my brand. It's not as hard as you think, though I know it seems daunting now.

Got more questions? Ask away in the comments below. If I can't answer them, I bet there's someone else that can!



8 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing. These sound like great tips! When you changed your url, did the GFC continue onto your new site or did you have to start over?
    ~Jennifer

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  2. I love "HelloHue"! Makes me smile. :) Thanks for the great tips, too!

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  3. These tips came at the perfect time! I'm planning on changing my business name in a couple of months. I actually got a head start on the design and am launching that as soon as it's done. I just need to figure out marketing. That's something I've never really been good at.

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  4. these are great tips! i LOVE your name! :)

    xo,
    Sandy
    Sandy a la Mode

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  5. I think instead of paper, plastic business cards are preferable because they are more charming and adorable..

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  6. Start using a organization greeting card design, plastic business cards obtainable through quite a few web companies, or wing the item. Start using a term control software that may incorporate a table.

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