How do I Make a Company Name Change?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

If name recognition has failed to occur despite excellent receipts, it may be time to consider a company name change. In most regions, changing a business name is a fairly straightforward process. There are several factors that do need to be considered when planning a company name change, including the necessary legal action, alteration of all company paperwork and advertising, and announcement of the change.

Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

In the United States, the type of notification of name change given to the government will depend on the structure of the business. Most company name change actions require that the owner of the company send a completed tax form or notification to the Internal Revenue Service. If the business is solely owned, a simple written notification must be filed. Corporations must fill out a special form to be filed with yearly taxes, while partnerships require either a name change form with regular tax returns or written notification signed by all partners. Other countries have similar requirements, but many require that notification or completed forms be sent to other agencies, such as a national registry of businesses.

A company name change may cost more than a simple filing fee with the government. All stationary, letterhead, office signs, promotional material, and product packaging will need to be changed quickly to prevent confusion. It is important to put together a comprehensive budget before finalizing a company name change, in order to avoid confusing both clients and workers about what to call the business. Ideally, all changes should be made simultaneously to ensure that the shift is both comprehensive and definitive.

In many cases, it will be important to notify clients, partners, or stockholders about a name change. In a corporation, the name change may need to be certified by shareholders or the board of directors before it is allowed to take effect. In any type of business, once the name change is approved, it is important to reduce potential confusion by clearly letting clients know that the same products will now be produced under a different name. Letters, press releases, and website alterations may be appropriate means of explaining a company name change, depending on the size of the business and the scope of operations.

A company name change can be the key to creating name and brand recognition. Many companies have famously changed their names and experienced spectacular success, whereas before they struggled on the edge of survival. Perhaps the name “Brad's drink” sparks no recognition, but nearly everyone has heard of its newer name, Pepsi-Cola®. While “Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web” and“Backrub” may fail to ring bells, the changed names of Yahoo!® and Google® are likely to sound more familiar.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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