Why do companies change a company or department name? Blue Ribbon Sports took on the name Nike, after the Greek goddess of victory. BackRub changed its name to Google, a play on the word ‘googol,’ a mathematical term for the number represented by the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeros. And, recently the business development department at Goulston & Storrs changed its name to the strategic growth department. In each instance, the name no longer fit the market, activities, or brand personality.
Law firms have changed and grown exponentially over the last decade, and the traditional marketing and business development departments have followed suit.
We thought it was important, in our firm’s culture, that our name illustrates the value we bring versus the functions we serve. Our team helps the firm grow with intention by cultivating targeted relationships, converting new business opportunities into revenue, adding value to client relationships, actively participating in lateral integration, creating market awareness, fostering innovation, maintaining a robust digital presence, and driving strategic planning.
In short, “strategic growth” has been our brand for some time, and we changed the name to reflect it.
Does your marketing department’s name identify your value and tell clients and members of your firm about your services? What should you do when the department name you’ve been using isn’t effective at achieving these goals?
Navigating a Successful Name Change
Here are some best practices to help you navigate a successful name change.
Look inside your department and firm. Consider the following: What is your unique value proposition? Does your name illustrate your value proposition?
Take your time. You may be tempted to decide on a name you like and rush through this process. Don’t. Once you’ve defined your new brand, brainstorm names that support your firm’s culture. If a name doesn’t relate to your image and services in a meaningful way, cross it off the list.
Avoid going too narrow. Choose a name that is flexible enough to allow your department room to grow. This is the reason we changed from “business development department” to “strategic growth department.”
Avoid going too wide. It’s important not to select a name so broad or generic that it won’t tell the firm anything about your department’s services.
Consider your firm culture. Every firm has a unique culture and personality. Be sure your name aligns with your firm’s business philosophy. Our firm has a culture of collaboration and entrepreneurial spirit so the name change was met with enthusiasm.
Socialize your suggested new name with stakeholders. We asked leadership, other business operation professionals, and attorneys if the name resonated with them and reflected our value from their perspective before moving forward with the change.
Publicize your name change and the business reasons for doing so. People inside and outside of your firm must understand why you changed the name. We used a visual to help tell our story, but every firm is different so find what works for you.
For us, transforming our business development department into the strategic growth department was much deeper than a name change or a rebrand, it was a shift in mindset—from a fixed mindset, where the capabilities of a team are seen as stagnant, to a growth mindset that focuses on the group’s evolving capabilities and contributions.
Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck has researched the growth mindset and believes it has significant effects for companies that embrace this philosophy. Her findings illustrate that when leadership promotes a growth mindset, they encourage learning, development, and new ideas.
Leadership should be constantly asking “What can we do better? What aren’t we doing that we should be? What skills and talents do we have that we aren’t employing?” If your firm’s leadership isn’t asking, then you can. Be a change agent and bring these questions to management. A growth mindset can be highly transformative to any firm. Changes and evolution in roles, responsibilities, and titles will follow.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. or its owners.
Beth Cuzzone is the chief strategic growth officer at Goulston & Storrs.
Kelly Harbour is director of client relations and innovation at Goulston & Storrs.
Liz Sobe is the director of strategic growth at Goulston & Storrs.