Words count: Changing a name

One of the most common—and difficult—tasks I undertake for online clients is helping them name or rename products and services. In many cases, this involves modifying an existing name for online use.

An example of this would be a crafts product called Urble Soapz. This is a name that looks cute on a tag in a retail shop or crafts show but is certain death online, where people are searching for “herbal soaps.” Or a service that a company’s internal team has always called “multiple viewpoint advocacy” but anyone coming to their website would think of as “group work” or “collaboration.”

I have been involved in one or two situations in which not just a product or service, but the entire company name, needed to be changed to become more web-friendly or user-friendly. In most cases, this meant that the name got longer, vaguer, and indisputably worse.

Guy Kawasaki’s blog called my attention to a well-written report on company name changes done by Strategic Name Development. If you are in the middle of naming or renaming a business entity, I strongly recommend studying the before-and-after comparisons. This is a real “read it and weep” document.