Happy Get-a-different-name Day

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Today, February 13, it is Get-a-different-name day. A perfect opportunity to reflect on organisations that opt for a name change. At RGN we have seen a lot of new brand names come and go and we are happy to take you along in our experiences in this area.

Why a new name?
There are many reasons for an organisation to choose a new name and brand identity. These are the reasons we have come across most often:
  • Merger or acquisition, think of FrieslandCampina, ForFarmers, SMT, and TNT post.
  • Or just the opposite; a split in business activities, for example Uniper and RegioBank.
  • New positioning, like recently Techniek Nederland.
  • International organisations that want to implement the same name everywhere, such as Suez and Engie

Opinions and emotions
Regardless of the reason for a name change, everyone has an opinion about it. And sometimes the emotions can be high, both in internal and external stakeholders. This is especially true for brands that have been around for a long time and have become a household name for the target group or society.

In these situations, organisations might decide to adjust the brand name in phases. As was the case with the acquisition of Hendrix UTD by ForFarmers. During the first rebranding phase, the company name became ForFarmersHendrix and to be changed to ForFarmers in a second phase. But even during the separation of brands, this method can be applied. Often to maintain the positive brand associations with the old brand. This was also the case with the Dutch bank RegioBank. The bank was first known as SNS RegioBank and was rebranded into RegioBank, but still showed the recognisable SNS kaleidoscope as a logo. During the latest rebranding, all links between SNS and RegioBank were removed in both wordmark and logo.

Another way to deal with opinions and emotions is to involve stakeholders in the naming process. A strategy that is often used by Dutch municipalities after a merger. Among others, the municipality of Midden-Groningen used this strategy. And recently a new name contest has been launched for the new name of the merged municipality of Delfzijl, Appingedam and Loppersum (article in Dutch).

What are the characteristics of a good brand name?
What is a good name depends on several things and there are a number of choices that need to be made that are not necessarily right or wrong, think of:
  • Descriptive vs. not descriptive
    Brand names like PostNL, Choice Hotels and Turkish Airlines don't need any further explanation. While with brands such as FrieslandCampina, Desigual and Douglas you cannot immediately tell from the brand name what kind of organisations they are.
  • Traditional vs. hip
    Traditionally, the names of founders were used as brand names or a historical link with the organisation was chosen. Think of the Kröller-Müller museum in the Netherlands and Villeroy & Boch. Nowadays we also encounter less traditional names such as CitizenM, Renewi, and Sanquin.
  • Local vs. international
    There are also brand names that say something about the original location or trade area of an organisation. This is often the case with local authorities, but also with Bayer, Suez and Malvern Panalytical. The consideration that must be made here is whether it fits the organisation to refer to a location.

    When your organisation finds itself on the brink of a new brand name, you should at least take into account the following aspects:
    • Distinctive compared to competitors
    • Easy to communicate
    • Complying with legal legislation
    • Online availability for website and social media
    We were happy to work with all beforementioned brands during their renaming and rebranding. Is your organisation ready for a new name or brand identity? We are happy to think along with you!