Should I change the name?
I own and operate a small midwestern production house. We shoot, edit, do motion graphics, just like many of you out there. We have a studio and some rental equipment including teleprompters and a Jimmy Jib. We've been in business for 18 years. Like many of you, we've struggled a bit during the last few years but we've weathered the storm and for right now, things are going OK.
I'm thinking about changing the name of my company, which currently is quite generic. Why? Because it's stale, I'm tired of it, and I'm looking for an excuse to shake things up. Plus, I think our business has changed - I've been writing and providing the creative for more projects - and I'd like that to be better reflected in the company name.
Our current name is pretty well known among the production community, and of course with our clients, but I've never been much of a marketer, so I don't think we would lose a "recognition factor" in the community at large. In fact, I'm one of the last dinosaurs without a website. I think that every time I start to pursue getting one up, I look at the company name and logo and my desire to change them is one of the things that gets in my way.
I feel like a name change would spur me into creating a new identity for the company through some advertising and a web presence. To jump on the "brand" wagon, so to speak.
As a production company, it's been difficult to get out of the pigeonhole that we sometimes find ourselves in, as strictly the guys who shoot and edit. This change would allow us to reposition ourselves - especially in the eyes of new clients - as a "creative resource". That will hopefully provide additional income potential, not to mention satisfaction.
I understand the hard costs involved - new stationery, business cards, advertising, etc. And my question isn't about whether my current or proposed name is "better". I guess I'd just like to call on your collective wisdom to share your thoughts about this. Are there costs or benefits that you've experienced that were unexpected? General thoughts about the value of a company name? Any insights you can share on this topic are appreciated.
Thanks very much for your time.
Well, anytime your company is still alive and kicking after 19 years, you must be doing something right, so I would be leery of changing the name, just because (New Coke?). Like it or not, when you change the name, people "feel" like the old place is gone, even if nothing changed BUT the name. Banks have to spend lots of ad and marketing money explaing their mergers and name changes to retain the customer base.
But, perhaps instead of junking what's been working, you only need to create a subsidiary identity that branches back to the main name, that way you keep the best of what you already have, but attract the new clients with your new "angle". So if your old brand is "Industrovision", and you now want to get more into authoring pro DVD's, perhaps your new "boutique" side operation is: "Industro-Interactive ( A subsidiary of Industrovision)".
This way, if in a year it hasn't worked out, you can shut down the subsidiary without having lost what was already established before. If it works out big time, you can add more "branch offices". All the phones and e-mail can go to the same old desk, you can just have people answer one line/email account/web presence with the new name, and the main line with the old name. I know places that have three or more "layers" like this in their one office. It's all about addressing segments of the market. Kind of like having multiple identities. Hopefully you can keep them all straight;-)
I generally agree with Mr. Suzko, not only for the reasons he gave, but also another.
Maintaining some separation of the creative development from the existing production co. is a good thing because as a producer you are competing with your production clients. Don't shove it in their face that you're a competitor as well as a vendor unless you're willing to lose their business. (which you might lose anyway over the long term, and don't hasten it!)
So I'd say not to tag your newco as "a subsidiary of industrovision". Keep them separate.
Me, I'd not walk away from that income until I was good and ready! Or at least take a hard look with a sharp pencil and decide what it is you really want to do.
It's always a hard choice - do I keep the goodwill of the old name and the recoqnition, or change and reflect a company that changes with the times and technologies.
Although my company is in a self-induced dormant state right now, I did the same thing...changing the name from a generic ENG shoot and relay (Minicam Ltd. formed in 1976) to a more marketable "umbrella" (Controlled Entertainment Corp.in 1992) as we moved away from just news/production services to full digital content creation, facilities and entertainment venue design and large-scale mobile operation.
Our ENG/EFP customers ultimatly went away - not because of the name change, but because we (I) no longer had the time to personally shoot most of the jobs. But we gained more in customers who were looking to have the production and distribution side done, plus clients who were booking facilities and having workspaces/studios/venues designed by our staff. And the company had evolved to taking on themed entertainment projects - fully immersible experience venues and the like after we'd done some background imaging and cgi work for a few European theme park firms and shopping centers.
The old company was a word-of-mouth deal; use us, like us, tell a friend, plus a long-time presence in the network news world. CEC had to go on-line, build a new client list and create product awareness. The bitch for me was personal; I can create "your" campaign...I have the damnest time selling me.
Upside - more clients, wider range of projects. Downside - less personal, more staff, more management. Costs...not a factor, really - you still have to spend to market if you're going to expand.
You will just confuse your clients, lose market brand and risk losing your business altogether as people WILL get confused and wont understand why it has changed.
Perhaps just add a tagline to your company name: so you keep your name and underneath it in all your letterheads etc run a line explaining your wider services 'first for DVD authoring and creative services....'.blah, blah, blah
You can keep your name but give it a fresh look with a different font, brighter colors or some logo or another.
Out of curiosity, what are the old & new names?
Several years ago, while I was a still photographer, I decided to start calling myself "Arniepix". Not long after that I gave up the photography business because I still couldn't make a decent living after 7 or 8 years of it. When I decided to take up editing a couple of years later, I dusted off the Arniepix name for that business. BTW, after only 4 years, I'm finally headed up towards the middle class.
Your company is already "branded" since you've been in business that long. When people see your company name they associate it with the firm that does a lot of training stuff, or commercial stuff, or event things, or whatever.
Would seem to me,---and I too am no marketer,---that if you want to, or are beginning to grow in new directions,---you must change the brand recognition by fine tuning. A new name would say more without losing the benefit of your established reputation. Maybe hanging on to some of your old name, and freshening it up. Apex (retained name) Media Communications. Or Apex MediaCom.
I personally feel the term "video" is deadly. In a game of word association I think "video" would be answered "wedding" 9 times out of 10. I would stay miles away from that.
My two cents.
I'm not a marketing consultant, but I do play one on TV... Wait a minute. I AM a marketing consultant.
I fully agree with almost everything said above. You have a brand to protect and should not take that lightly. Maybe what you really want, to satisfy that desire to have a new identity, is something as simple as a new logo.
Or maybe what you want is a means of re-branding that doesn't discard the old name. For example, say your present name is Circle Video Productions (and I'm just guessing here), you could change your public name to CVP with Circle Video Productions as small type underneath.
The real truth of the matter is preserving the client relationships is crucial. As long as you are in close contact with your clients they won't care what you call yourself. If some "creators" view you as only a production house that's fine. No need to rub their noses in the fact that you are also in the creative business. If new potential clients want to think of you as much more than simply the production house, so much the better -- and a dececnt reason for calling yourself CVP.
And finally, say hi to Bob for me. (BTW - If you want to email me add a "G" after my first name and before the @. The old email was dropped to protect me from SPAM.)