Promoting the New Name:
A Primer on PR
© Steve Rivkin 1988
Adopting a new company name isn't enough. If an organization is really proud of its new moniker -- and it ought to be -- then prompting the new identity with all its important constituent publics is a necessity.
Here are the steps that a proud company should follow in letting its publics know who exactly is has become.
First, preview the new name internally.
Give the employees the first glimpse of the new identity and the rationale behind it. These people, after all, are the keepers of the new flame. They must be supportive -- the faddish term is "buy-in" -- so get them in the tent early.
This implies holding employee meetings to announce -- with appropriate bells and whistles -- the new name and its meaning. It means distributing advertising preprints on the campaign that will launch the new name. it means supplying coffee mugs and key rings and Lucite cubes and all that jazz to make the new name tangible.
Second, announce the new name externally with appropriate pomp.
Don't just sneak the name out. Let the media know the reasons and background for switching names. "Our old name did not reflect the innovative and far-reaching qualities of a company poised for the twenty first century. This new identity signals a com[any that has reconfigured itself to confront the challenges of a competitive world dominated by technology and speed." Etc. Etc.
How one acts externally suggests the confidence with which the new name is held. Ergo, say it loud and say it proud.
Third, integrate the new name into investor presentations.
Analysts should begin referring to the company under its new handle as quickly as possible. The quicker the Street stops referring to you as "the former Blickstein Company," the better. The theme of analyst presentations, in fact, should be wrapped around the new identity. "Our new name is more than just a new word. It is symbolic of how this organization has moved ahead and plans to continue its momentum." Etc. Etc.
Fourth, don't forget your customers.
After a new name is announced in a news release and in advertising, organizations frequently forget to massage customers so that they, too feel comfortable and conversant with the new moniker. Make sure your customers and clients (and suppliers) understand the rationale. Distribute literature on the derivation of the new identity. The CEO should write personally to each major customer. Any client grousing -- "I didn't see anything wrong with the old name" -- demands an immediate response.
The real key in promoting a new name lies in the pride that an organization feels in changing identities.
Those who compromise or back into an embarrassing new name tend to be very sheepish in public.
A proud outfit will be willing to take the time and spend the money to vigorously herald its new name.
STEVE RIVKIN President, Rivkin & Associates, Inc; Editor, The Naming Newsletter, a quarterly report on the strategies and tactics of naming. Steve is a much sought-after speaker and has provided naming counsel and training workshops for such clients as Ameritech, BlueCross BlueShield, First Data Corp., Kraft Foods, Monsanto, Nynex, Outboard Marine Corp., Pharmaco, Sierra Instruments and Wendy's. Training workshop details, contact RAYMA Management Consultants Wendy Song at tel: (03) 7044-666, fax: (03) 7044-484 or e-mail: email@example.com