Meet the firms that ditched old names for new ones – and the challenges each faced

Your business name is at the heart of your brand. It is the main recognition tool for customers and suppliers alike. It identifies you and represents your values and strengths.

So deciding to change it is a major step which needs careful planning and sensitivity.
Real Business spoke to four business leaders who made the decision to change names. Why did they feel the need to do it, and how hard was the process?

(1) Lifesum 

The Swedish health and fitness app made the change from its original name of ShapeUp Club in December 2013. CEO Henrik Torstensson told us all about it.

Why the name change?

We wanted the brand to focus on holistic health rather than just “shaping up”. The change reflected our goal to help people around the world become happier and healthier, rather than focusing on aesthetic fitness. It also reflected our international ambitions, as we were growing rapidly. 

It had been pointed out to us by a native English speaker that “ShapeUp Club” sounded more like a morning exercise routine on a bad holiday than a health and fitness app. It didn’t seem to conjure the premium associations we wanted, so we refined it.

What was the process like?

I gave everyone in the management team a deck of post-it notes and asked them to write down 100 different names each. We then all gathered in our COO’s summerhouse in Sweden and plastered the notes all over the walls and windows. 

After many qualifying rounds we boiled the list down to six favourites. Then came the administrative process of seeing which names were legally viable, when it came to domain regulations and other technical aspects. We announced the new brand “Lifesum” in December 2013, immediately prior to the new year period when people’s thoughts turn to health.

Was it easy?

It was definitely challenging and at times pretty nerve-wracking. In hindsight though, we achieved exactly what we wanted from the process and so it was more than worth it.

Did it cost a lot?

No as we did nearly all of the work ourselves. For very specific tasks, we used advisors.

What were the risks?

Our main concern was that we would lose a proportion of our existing customers when we switched over. Fortunately, this didn’t happen, in part because we communicated the change heavily through our own channels so that all our users knew it was coming and understood our logic.

How did employees/customer engage with the new name?

Both our employees and customers liked the new name a lot, particularly internationally. As you would expect, not everyone was on board at the start but in the end the majority of people came round to the change. 

We kept all the processes (e.g. logo design) as transparent as possible so that everyone was in the loop. That way we all warmed to the new brand together. The new name matched our ambition perfectly.

Read more about the subject:

(2) Handy

The on-demand cleaning and DIY service, which launched in the UK last year after buying Mopp, changed its name from Handybook. A spokesperson from the company let us know more detail.

Why the name change?

Some people genuinely thought that “Handybook” was a type of book! Though of course not the only reason, we decided that the name did not match the simplicity and clarity of our app. 

We wanted something that could become a verb and that had the catchiness of the likes of Google and Skype. Handy is not a listings service but some people thought it was. We wanted the new brand to focus on the actual services provided and to do so we had to ditch “the book”.

What was the process like?

Measured. We decided in-house on the Handy name before approaching the owner of the existing url. That was a German mobile phone company who, after some negotiating, handed over both the domain and the Twitter handle to us. Once this was secured we went to a branding agency to make sure it was done in the right way – which it was.

Was it easy?

We did extensive testing on consumers across the board, which was met with a great response. This confirmed we were doing the right thing. We also did a competitive audit of other brands in the space, to see what worked and what didn’t. There is so much in a name, both actively and subconsciously, that it was worth taking our time.

What were the risks?

We had to make sure we didn’t lose the value of the existing brand. It was a tactical transition, but one we were fully aware could backfire if we weren’t thorough enough. That said, it was all handled incredibly carefully and, thanks to excellent planning, by the time wheels were in motion, we were quietly confident that people would love Handy.

How did employees/customer engage with the new name?

People really liked that the new logo was an ambigram, and so read the same upside down. It was a huge success.

Was it beneficial?

Yes, of course. The new name is much more catchy, our brand recognition is much sharper and it has generally been conducive to wider awareness of what Handy is about.

Read on to find out about two further changes – one to have better global understanding and the other due to copyright infringement.

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