Is your name actually harming your reputation?

A name says a lot about you. But can it determine your success or failure?

If you’re a fan of Freakonomics, you’ll know about their research that showed that your name may play a role in your destiny. If you name a child Winner or Loser, does this really affect how his life pans out?

So when it comes to the name of your business, shouldn’t we be on alert for signs that our name isn’t working for us?

Changing the name of your business is a huge decision. It’s not something that you undertake without due consideration. Having worked with businesses across all industry sectors that have embarked on the journey of changing their identities, I’ve been witness to how challenging this process can be.

More interestingly, they all have their different reasons for the overhaul. So, how do you know if it’s time for a change?


It may be a meeting of minds and cultures but what do you call the new entity? Should it be a combination of the two previous entities names? Or, should it be something completely new?

Being clinical about this is key, despite how difficult that is when you are managing the dynamics between two management teams. The most important aspect to consider is what you wanted to achieve by merging the two entities in the first place and how each of the names affects this. If there is any sign that one name may have a detrimental effect on your overall brand and its attractiveness to your target market, then this needs to be addressed.

Roll-up strategy

Pulling together a bunch of businesses under the one umbrella is a great business move. But economies of scale will only come with good branding to keep the whole ship together. You’ll need a name that reflects all the businesses and their brand values.

Going through a group brand values exercise is a great way to start. It highlights all the key stakeholders’ common ground and allows everyone to input into this important decision.

Redefining the market

Sometimes the market environment changes around us and our name no longer represents who we are. In the world of disability, this has certainly been the case. We’ve seen many organisations shift from cause-related names to more inspiring versions to capture attention and represent a more diversified service offering.

Redefining your USP

Sometimes growth, product development or even leadership changes can re-define a business and the existing name simply doesn’t stand the test of time.

As businesses mature, what seemed fine for a one-man band, doesn’t quite do justice for the range and breadth of services now on offer. This one is the trickiest to assess as the original name can be connected with the original founder, who also has a strong personal brand.

Making a leap into a more corporate brand needs to be weighed up with what will be lost in the goodwill.

Research is key!

Before you make any decisions though, research is critical. Take your time and do the research in stages. Start with staff, investors and key clients. Establish their thoughts on your brand and what it delivers. If there’s a gap, expand your research parameters to explore a broader audience.


Kellie Hasluck

Kellie has provided Western Australian businesses with communications advice for nearly 20 years as a co-founder of Clarity. She provides coaching and mentoring services to executives in the resources, engineering and financial services and not for profit sectors. Kellie is an experienced public relations practitioner undertaking strategic planning, community consultation, media relations, and internal communications for large national and international organisations.