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June 22, 2007

Changing Your Name When Your Business Changes

Sometimes, as with the change from "IPTV" to "Mediaroom," a company picks a new brand name because the old one didn't go over very well with consumers. Sometimes a company discovers that its name has rude connotations in another language, and changes its name in order to avoid offending people.

everyZingAnd sometimes a company changes its name because the original name is too narrow to cover the scope of the work the company is doing. That's what happened to PodZinger, the audio search company that just changed its name to EveryZing in order to expand into video search.

PodzingerWhile podcasts, the source of the first half of the name "PodZinger," can be audio or video, a lot of the most popular online video is not delivered as a podcast, and plenty of YouTube fans would be hard-pressed to tell you what a podcast is. Business 2.0 blogger Erik Schonfeld takes the name change as evidence that podcasting itself is a dud, but I'm not sure that follows. Nevertheless, even podcasters debate the appropriateness of the name "podcasting," and Alexandra Berzon is right that having "pod" in your brand name might drive away potential customers. While "EveryZing" doesn't automatically say "search," at least it's general enough to cover multiple media formats.

Not all companies that started out focused on one thing end up having to change their names. Berzon points out that Kiptronic, an ad-insertion service, has a name that applies equally well to audio and video. It's worth noting that the URL their home page redirects to has "podcaster" in it, but the page itself refers to "automated ad insertion for downloadable media." And Technorati, once primarily a blog search tool, has redesigned itself to cover "photos, videos, blogs, and more" without needing to change its name, a nice portmanteau of "technology" and "literati."

If you provide specialized services and expect to continue to operate in that particular niche, it may make sense to use a name that reflects it.

  • However, more often then not, companies that start in a niche expand and grow beyond that niche.
  • Therefore, I recommend a name that is broad enough to accommodate unforeseen growth opportunities and expansion to new markets and businesses.

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Posted by William Lozito at June 22, 2007 9:04 AM
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