Much like the caterpillar changing into the butterfly, businesses grow and change over time. You might find the name you chose no longer suits what you want to do with the business – you might have the word “cupcakes” in there but now you focus on cakes, or that really cutesy name no longer suits your elegant and modern style. If you’re going to choose a new name and logo, I’d still follow the steps in my How To Name Your Cake Business article to make sure the name will work and checking it’s not already taken.
Now that you’re ready to change the business name, here’s what you need to think about doing to make the transition:
You’ll need to do things like change your business name on your social media accounts – most of them you can change the name rather than have to start a new page. I’d make the announcement there as you would to a client who asked what’s happening. “Baby Cakes is growing up! The name of the business is changing to XYZ, I hope you enjoy seeing all the new and exciting things I’ve got planned.” You also need to change domain names for your website. I’d keep the existing website URL and email address for now and have it automatically redirect to the new one so that people who only know the old name can still find you. Speak to the accountants and bookkeepers about the name change too as there may be some legal and financial hoops you need to jump through. These are not usually a big deal (it will depend on how your business is set up) but it needs to get done.
In my opinion, changing a business name or branding is best set up in the background over time, but then done and announced rather quickly. You don’t want to be announcing all of this with no website for people to go visit, or for your email address to still be at your old name. Set it all up the way you want (as much as you can reasonably do) without saying anything other than some quick sneak peeks. Once it’s announced, you’ll have something to show people and a website to send them to for them to get excited about it. There will be teething issues, but the majority of it should be ready to go before you say it out loud.
2) The Client Bit of It:
This is a more gradual process but equally as important. From the get-go, I’d set up a marketing plan of how you’re going to market this revamped business -this is especially true if you’re planning on changing the DIRECTION of the business as well as the name and/or logo. This is not just about marketing it to new clients, it’s about your existing client base as well. Some of your existing clients will stick with you and others won’t and that’s totally okay. It’s a bit like when you raise your prices, some people are happy to stay and others go elsewhere. I’d start to hint it at in the weeks leading up to it. “Some new and exciting things are in the works for us,” post a picture of something you made which is more in line with your new direction, etc. Just some very light “teaser” things to build momentum up without making an enormous announcement.
If you’ve got an email list (and I really hope you do!), send them an email explaining about the new name and (if there is one) the new direction of the business. Invite them to come along for the ride with you and don’t forget to thank them for their loyalty and support.
Also, don’t say no to orders in the transition period – you need incoming coming in. This is especially important if you’re changing direction entirely rather than just changing the logo or name. As an example, if you know you’ll no longer be taking on cupcake orders, you’ll need to have a period of change over. Suppose you’re changing it all up in March. I’d take cupcake orders up till maybe the middle of April, just so there is some continuity of income there. Pick a date into the future when you’ll no longer do those kinds of orders and then stick to it while allowing for some overlap before that date.
Changing the name, logo, or direction of your business can be really fun but also a little scary – after all, you’ve spent all this time building something up only to then go and change things. While chances are you might lose a few customers, you need to think of this as the long term gain you’ll be getting. It’s like renovating a house – you might lose the charming period features, but you’re gaining that much needed extra bedroom.