You took the leap; you learned your craft, chose a business name, and through blood, sweat, and tears, built a business from the ground up. But what happens when the name you chose so early in your endeavors no longer represents your company?
If you’re considering rebranding your business, it’s extremely important to do your research to ensure you are taking every precaution to rebrand the right way. Only with high attention to detail and conscientious implementation can you successfully rebrand your business in a way that moves your business forward and doesn’t result in notable damage.
Why A Photographer Would Rebrand
Before you choose to rebrand, think deeply about why you are rebranding and what you hope to gain from it. Don’t make this major decision just because you feel like it, it’s not worth the hassle and financial impact.
That said, here are some good reasons to consider rebranding.
TRADEMARKING: In such a saturated industry, you may find that the name you’ve chosen for your business is so similar to others that makes it difficult to trademark your business name.
YOUR NAME IS FORGETTABLE: If your name is not easy to recall, spell, or doesn’t differentiate you from the competition and you find that your word of mouth marketing is suffering; you may want to change your business name to something more memorable.
REPUTATION: You may want to rebrand because a business of a similar name has a soiled reputation that is making it difficult to build relationships with clients or vendors.
THE PURPOSE OF YOUR COMPANY HAS CHANGED: It’s common for a business to evolve and outgrow their business name if the name they chose is too specific. For example, if your business name is John Smith Wedding Photography, and you are expanding your business to include other types of photography or even video, you may feel that you need to rebrand to a broader name that you can grow into (such as John Smith Creative).
YOU’VE UNDERGONE A SIGNIFICANT OWNERSHIP CHANGE: If your business has undergone a merger with another company, or has adopted new partners, rebranding may be a good option. If you find yourself needing to rebrand, take these steps to ensure that you won’t have to rebrand again. In other words, future-proof your brand!
Tips for Naming Your Photography Business
You may have already chosen your new name, you may be crowd testing a few names, or you may be staring at a blank page stuck in the beginning stages of brainstorming. Whatever your situation, as you choose your new name, really take time to consider the following.
- What are the primary services of your new brand?
- What is your brand personality?
- How are you unique when compared to other brands?
- How does your previous name fall short?
When you’ve narrowed your list down to your top choices, think about your new brand names from the position of your target audience. Consider the following:
- Is the name memorable? If your customers can’t remember it, your word of mouth marketing will suffer.
- Is the name location-specific? Only choose a location-specific name if you 100% do not plan to expand or move.
- Is the name easy to spell? Obscure names can land, but typically only with an extreme marketing budget.
- Is the name flexible? It needs to be flexible enough to allow for some evolution, but not so broad that people can’t find you or gain a clear understanding of what you do.
- Does the name reinforce your brand personality? It’s important that your name reinforces the personality of your brand. This applies to the new name, taglines, images, and social media branding.
- Is the name easily confused with others? Find ways to make your brand name stand apart. Resist the urge to simply spell it in an unexpected way, as this makes it hard for customers to find you online.
- Is the name trend-proof? Make your new name timeless.
Take each of your top name choices through the list above to help you make your final decision. Measuring your new name against these standards is a great way to ensure that you’re creating a memorable, future-proof brand.
Legal Steps for Rebranding Your Photography Business
Once you’ve chosen your new name, make it official by taking the appropriate technical and legal steps to change your business name.
To ensure that you’re not infringing on trademark laws, check to make sure that there is no existing company with a similar name that:
- Offers services similar to yours.
- Is a live brand.
- Holds the trademark rights to the name.
Use this search engine to find out if your name can be trademarked, and use your preferred website platform or a website like godaddy.com to see if there is a domain name available. Lastly, check social media platforms to claim the handles for your new business name.
Once you’ve completed the steps above, you can begin taking legal steps toward your rebrand. (Note: For a complete list of legal steps, reference this blog, released by the U.S. Small Business Administration).
CHANGE YOUR NAME/EIN
Notify your secretary of state to acquire a business name change form. You may need to apply for a new EIN in order to obtain the new business name. If this happens, make sure you update your partners and vendors with the correct EIN when it is issued to you.
NOTIFY THE IRS
Visit the IRS website to see what actions you need to take to change your business name. For Sole Proprietorships (and some other types of businesses), the necessary paperwork is minimal.
If you have business insurance, permits, or other types of business licenses, call the licensers directly to notify them of the name change. If you have business insurance, update your coverage for your new brand. Carefully consider any new insurance needs you might have as you make changes to your business. Update your bank account names and branded checks as well.
Marketing Steps to Rebranding Your Photography Business
Purchase your new URL and build a website for your new brand. Redirect your site to your new domain. Use Google 301 redirects so you don’t lose your SEO. Update all logos, images, email addresses, contact info, social media handles, and general website copy to reflect the rebrand.
Claim your new social media handles as early as possible and use your old account to refer your existing followers to your new account. Understand ahead of time that it’s unlikely all of your existing followers will follow your new account. To increase your chances of success, utilize every media option offered by your social media platforms (i.e. stories, hashtags, live video, message boards, paid ads, etc.) to build a following on your new business accounts.
MISC. BUSINESS MATERIALS
Update your email addresses, email signatures, email follow up sequences, receipts, retail tags, voicemail messages, business cards, company swag, signage, and online marketplaces (Etsy, etc.). Leave no stone unturned! Check, check again, and triple check all of your business-related materials.
Notifying Current Photography Clients of Rebranding if Your Photography Business
Although we’re addressing this point last, it is perhaps the most important step you can take when changing your business name and should be done as early as possible. As soon as you know your new name and have begun taking legal steps toward rebranding, notify your existing clients. Celebrate the name change, explain what the new name represents, and tell clients what exciting changes they can expect. It can be a good idea to pair the name change with an exciting event, sale, or brand launch party to get people excited and familiar with your new brand. Even if your reasons for changing your business name are less-than-exciting, spin it for the positive and use your rebranding as an opportunity to reconnect with clients and refresh your business.