How to Change a Name, Cheap

If you have a named place or organization, and it’s not a business or other legal entity, here’s a cheap way to change the name, and also use a simple search engine optimization (SEO) trick to ease the transition.

The biggest expenses from a name change are getting new signs and stationery. Letterhead and business cards are expensive.

The cheapest part of the name change is changing your email signatures, getting a new website domain, and asking websites to change your name.

Findability

Because most people search for your organization on the web, it’s critical that they continue to be able to find your organization with both the old name, and the new name.

Perform your name change in two phases. The first phase creates a name that combines the old name and the new name.  The second phase completely transitions to the new name.

If the name is “Organization A”, and the new name is “Organization B”, you’d execute it like this, in two phases:

  1. Rename the organization to “Organization A – Organization B”.
  2. Rename the organization to “Organization B”.

During this Phase 1, change all the online references to Organization A to the transitional name “Organization A – Organization B”.  This way people searching for Organization A will see this new, combined name.

You contact each website, and ask them to make the change.

During Phase 1, stationery will run out. When you order new stationery, order it with “Organization A – Organization B”, but get an appropriate amount so it’ll run out at the end of Phase 2.  Then order only with “Organization B, formerly Organization A”.

Once all references to the organization are updated, stop using the combined name, and use “Organization B”.  Get the new stationery, business cards, sign, etc.  Don’t change the websites using the transitional name. Some will update themselves to the new name, because they want their lists to be correct. Others will not, because you aren’t alerting them to the change.

Unless you want to get rid of “Organization A” completely, these obsolete uses of the transitional name, “Organization A – Organization B”, help people find your new name and are an SEO asset.

Businesses

If you have a business, a name change is much more work up-front, so you can’t do that trick, or it’ll just be a lot more expensive to do it. The SBA explains business names.

Author: John

I can be reached at johnk@riceball.com.

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