Choosing a company name seems easy, but names are chosen or evolve for a variety of reasons, so it can be quite complex. Whether starting out or looking to diversify, there should always be strategic reasoning behind the decision. Large or small a company should have a marketing strategy supporting what it does and why it does it. The marketing strategy document itself needn’t fill a bookshelf, but in its basic form it should address these three questions, where am I now? Where do I want to be? How am I going to get there?

While normally spanning 3 or 5 years, a strategy shouldn’t be rigid, it should be regarded as a living thing to be re-visited and tested regularly and revised where necessary. We have all become painfully aware lately that the only certainty in life is that things change, so its more important than ever to adapt our strategies to meet whatever market and economic challenges arise.So does this mean a company name or brand can be changed. Yes of course, there’s a famous global sportswear brand that launched as Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964 and changed to Nike (Greek goddess of victory) in 1978. However there should always be sound motivations to doing this as it can come with hefty financial consequences so it’s not for the faint-hearted.

Simplicity of branding is a strategy a lot of well-known companies have adopted when changing their name, take for example; IBM (International Business Machines), BP (British Petroleum), B&Q (Block & Quayle), and more recently HP (Hewlett Packard), and M&S (Marks & Spencer). The abbreviation route is not however for everyone.

An alternative strategy is to promote the brand rather than the company like Research In Motion (RIM) who are better know as Blackberry, or Proctor & Gamble who have brands such as Braun, Gillette, and Duracell. This is perhaps a safe strategy as it makes diversification easier.

The boldest strategy is to adopt the company name as the brand, two famous examples being Apple and Virgin. This approach creates the greatest opportunity but brings with it the most risk.

So are there any hard and fast rules to follow, yes and no. Yes you should have a strategy that defines your company’s target market, customers, and its future, what you name it is up to you. However a little careful forethought can save a lot of time and money down the line.