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Your Name and How to Change It

24 Jan, 2003 By: Wes Phillips imageSource

Your Name and How to Change It

For many people, few things are more important to them than their name. This
is often evidenced by the irritated reaction you receive if you mispronounce or
misspell their name. A name is personal and it embodies the character and
identity of an individual. This phenomenon is also present in the document
imaging technology world. Most dealer owners have their entire lives and net
worth invested in their companies and, as a result, they are proud of the
corporate name. In addition, most companies have spent tens of thousands of
dollars establishing their name in the local business community, which is
further evidence of the importance of the corporate name.

However, recent upheavals in the document imaging technology market have
caused many dealers to question if they should change the name of their company.
Some are concerned that their existing name is too old fashioned. Others feel
that their existing name is misleading or does not accurately reflect their area
of expertise. Finally, many companies have had to change their name for legal or
competitive reasons. If you find yourself in any of these circumstances and are
considering a name change, the dilemma now is how you go about changing the
name, what should the name be changed to and how do you know if it has been
successful? To help illustrate how these questions can be answered, this article
will highlight the recent experience of an Arizona dealership.

The Biggest Hurdle

At the beginning of 2002, one of our clients in Tempe, Arizona let us know that
it might finally be time to change their name. All of the reasons for the name
change were extremely valid. At first it seemed that the biggest hurdle would be
selecting the new name. Many names were considered and different logo treatments
were reviewed. Yet, none of the names seemed to be acceptable to the owner.
After reviewing many names over a period of several weeks, the owner stated that
he was just having difficulty with the idea of giving up his existing name. The
thought of his company being identified by a new name was something that made
him uncomfortable.

The fact remained though, that it was necessary for the name to be changed.
This is the decision point that our firm has seen many companies confront. While
logic might dictate that the biggest hurdle would be the cost of changing the
name or the apprehension about losing the investment made in the original name,
in this specific case (and most others) the biggest hurdle to overcome is an
emotional one. It is a difficult decision to change something that is so
personal. In the final analysis, it takes a very good business leader to make
the choice to change the name of the company. He must overcome the desire to
hold onto the past and see with clarity that the future health of his company
hinges on moving the firm forward and, unfortunately for some, this may include
reinventing the corporate name. In the case of our Arizona client, he made the
decision to change the name.

Selecting The New Name

Once the decision was made to change the name, the next issue was to select the
new name. This process can be very time consuming. Yet, it does not have to be a
process that becomes all consuming. The key point to remember is that no matter
what name you select, it will require an investment in marketing and advertising
to make it meaningful to the marketplace. A recent example of this is the new
low cost airline Jet Blue. No one knew what Jet Blue was until it invested
advertising and public relations dollars. The reality is Jet Blue could have
named their new company just about anything, as long as they were willing to
make the investment to make the name known to the marketplace.

If you are contemplating changing your corporate name, it is important to
avoid using words that are outdated or words that are inaccurate. For example,
if you are only selling digital document imaging technology and the related
service and support, then using the term "office systems" is not as accurate as
"imaging systems." However, if you sell digital document imaging technology plus
office furniture, then the words "office systems" do make sense. Also, keep in
mind that when changing your name, it is not necessary to reinvent the entire
name. It may be that only a word needs to be dropped or a word or two added.
This was the situation with our client in Arizona. Their existing name was
Dahill Imaging Systems. The new name that was chosen was Imaging Systems of

Getting The Name Changed

Once the new name has been selected, the next step is to implement the name
change. The new name change will have an impact on your employees, your current
customers, your vendors and your prospective customers. In addition, you need to
have a comprehensive list of all the places the name appears that will have to
be changed. The following is a partial list and includes some of the areas that
will need to be reviewed -- building signage, letterhead, business cards, sales
tools, vehicles, yellow pages, advertising material, invoices and company
website. Plus, you will also have to allocate a budget to implement the name

Most of the items on the above list are easily addressed. However, one area
that many dealers have difficulty addressing is informing the current and
prospective customers. The challenge is how does a dealership go about
transferring all of the investment that has been made in the old name to the new
name. Some may express doubt that this is an important consideration. Yet, in
the past ten years there have been clear examples of lost name change
opportunities throughout the document imaging technology industry. Two that come
to mind include all of the successful dealerships that Danka and IKON (formerly
Alco Standard) purchased. Most of the acquired dealerships were well known in
their respective marketplaces and yet, when their old names were retired and
replaced with the new corporate name, it appears that not enough effort and
financial resources were invested in leveraging the equity of the old dealership
names into the new corporate name.

Our client in Arizona understood the task at hand. They chose to allocate
additional advertising budget to help implement the name change. In addition,
they also chose to use their advertising strategy to help insure that the
marketplace understood that Dahill Imaging Systems was now Imaging Systems of
Arizona. In other words this dealership realized that there would have to be an
additional investment made to insure that all the name equity from the money
that had been invested in the old name, transferred to the new name.

The decision was made to add two months of radio advertising to the existing
budget. In addition, it was decided to make an event out the name change. This
was accomplished with a Name Change Sweepstakes. The radio commercials informed
the listener that if the phone in their office rang and the caller said they
were from Dahill Imaging Systems, the listener should stop the caller and say
Dahill Imaging Systems is now Imaging Systems of Arizona. If the listener did
this, they won a dinner for two at a fine local restaurant, plus they were
entered into a drawing for a new digital copier/printer for their office and a
vacation trip for two. In addition, the entire sales force was involved in the
sweepstakes. Their involvement included distributing sweepstakes response cards
throughout the sales territories. The information gathered from these cards
helped to supplement the sweepstakes telephone call list. The sweepstakes calls
also brought more value by generating many new selling situations.

As the previous example demonstrates, informing the marketplace of a name
change can require quite a bit of effort, plus added expenses. How do you know
if it has been successful? Well, our client in Arizona received confirmation
from a most unexpected source.

As it turns out, the owner of this dealership is a member of a committee that
reviews the accounting curriculum at Arizona State University. Recently, he was
part of a panel discussion with an audience of over 300 attendees. The panel
consisted of five or six individuals and each one of the participants was asked
to give a brief overview of their company. When it was time for the owner of
Imaging Systems of Arizona to introduce himself, he thought it would be best if
he identified his company as Dahill Imaging Systems. However, no sooner had he
said those words when another panel member (in front of hundreds of attendees)
interrupted him and said, "Excuse me, but Dahill Imaging Systems is now Imaging
Systems of Arizona!" It was at this moment the owner of Imaging Systems of
Arizona realized his goal had been achieved. He had successfully changed the
corporate name, transferred the original name equity to the new name and had
produced the ROI he had expected.

Wes Phillips, CEO of Hunter Barth Advertising, located in Costa Mesa,
California, submitted this article. Hunter Barth Advertising is a full service
marketing and advertising firm specializing in the office technology industry.
You can reach Wes at 949-631-9900 or at phillips@hunterbarth.com.

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