If the idea of changing your nonprofit’s name feels overwhelming and scary, you’re not alone.
Changing your name is a huge undertaking that’s not without risk. When necessary, and when done well, a new name can trigger powerful outcomes for an organization. But there’s more to naming success than finding the perfect new moniker. You also must consider how you announce it.
We’ve talked before about how to approach a naming project and how to make sure your new name is a good one. If you’ve followed these guidelines and have settled on a new name, you’re now faced with a critical step in the process—rolling it out.
Announcing a new name requires deliberate, strategic thought and planning. Handling this hastily can leave your most important stakeholders feeling left behind and disconnected from your organization. So the question is…
How do you introduce your new name in a way that ensures buy-in from your most important stakeholders and donors?
Before, during, and after a naming project, we guide our clients on how and when to inform people of their name change. Here are a few great ways to gain support for your new name from your most important stakeholders.
- Be thorough. Examine every touchpoint with your clients and supporters, and make sure each reflects your new brand strategy, visual identity, and name. Consistent exposure to your new brand will help your stakeholders understand why a new name was needed.
- Timing is Everything. Is there an upcoming event or conference when many of your stakeholders will be gathered in one place? If not, consider hosting a small event for your major funders as a “soft launch” for your new brand, bringing those stakeholders into the fold before you update your communications pieces and announce to the greater public. Showcase your new brand and name in all elements of your event. Bringing them into a celebration will help ensure they remain connected to your new and improved organization.
- Share WHY. Put together a list of talking points and frequently asked questions about your new name. Explaining WHY you changed your name is the big opportunity to reconnect people to your mission. Your staff and board should know and understand this information, and you can share this list with your external supporters or even post on your website. It not only provides answers to the questions they most likely will have, it also helps assure them that this decision was made thoughtfully and with purpose. Consider including questions like:
- Why did we change our name and logo?
- What has changed at [your organization], and what has remained the same?
- What’s new and exciting at [your organization]?
- Whose decision was it to change the name?
- Did anything else about [your organization] change?
- Listen for feedback. Thank your boosters for their praise about your name change and new identity, and reply thoughtfully and honestly to criticism. When you respond to your stakeholders’ feedback, it keeps them from feeling excluded.
The below timeline will help you unveil your new name as part of a strategic branding process.
|SIX MONTHS TO LAUNCH
- Begin visual identity and logo design
|FIVE MONTHS TO LAUNCH
- Begin website design work
- Review all visual touch points for your brand. This may include business cards, name tags, signage, directional signs, parking, email footers, advertising, brochures, PowerPoint presentations, and videos.
|THREE MONTHS TO LAUNCH
- Update collateral and all materials with new name and logo
- Decide how to communicate the name and identity shift with specific donors. Which donors and others will be included in a “soft launch” event? Which need personal phone calls? And which can receive the news electronically or through the mailing of traditional print collateral?
|ONE MONTH TO LAUNCH
- Brief and train staff and board on the new brand, name, other brand elements, and the importance of a clean transition. Tell your staff everything you would tell an external audience and discuss how they can bring the new name and identity to life in their daily work.
- Host a “soft launch” event for those most important stakeholders to introduce your new name and identity.
|THREE WEEKS TO LAUNCH
- Send all updated print collateral to the printer
|TWO WEEKS TO LAUNCH
- Distribute font and logo packages and guidelines to staff and board
- Approve final website
|ONE WEEK TO LAUNCH
- Send teaser mailer and email to donors
|THREE DAYS TO LAUNCH
|ONE DAY TO LAUNCH
- Recycle all outdated letterhead, business cards, collateral, and materials
- Archive or delete all old marketing templates and files
- Update all social media channels
- Update all building and office signage
- Update all email signatures with new name and logo
- Email all clients and stakeholders, including the rationale for your branding work and name change
- Transition to new letterhead, business cards, and collateral
- Make the announcement in multiple media. We suggest combining email, social/news media, postcards, event invitations, and advertising/sponsored media.
- Distribute press release for your new name
- Make announcements on social media
|ONE WEEK AFTER LAUNCH
- Send follow-up emails to clients and stakeholders
|ONE MONTH AFTER LAUNCH
- Send progress emails to clients and stakeholders
For more tips on name announcements, download our 10 Guidelines for Launching Your New Name. What ideas do you have for successfully rolling out a new name? Share in the comments below.
*Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.