Rallying Employees Around A New Corporate Name

480_Apple name change

So you're changing your company name. The old Stafko Products Corporation is now Simplex Corporation. You've thought about Wall Street, your customers, your suppliers.

What about the staff? Here are six steps to get employees on board:

1. Get them in the tent early. Tell staff before customers and Wall Street get the word. Email them when the word is official and direct them to the new, improved corporate Website. Your employees are the keepers of the new flame, and their support will help you make the transition quickly.

2. The faddish term is "buy-in." That implies holding briefings to announce the new name. Distributing advertising PDFs of the announcement for the new name and logo. Supplying coffee mugs and Lucite cubes and all that jazz so that they are actually looking at the new name all the time. (Don't underestimate the value of making the new name tangible.)

3. Say it loud and say it proud. Herald the new name categorically and unequivocally. If you flinch in your pronouncements, you give the troops the same "out" to cling to the old name. The announcements should come from the top. The rationale should be crisp and clear and, above all, enthusiastic.

4. The old name is history. Externally, use a phrase such as "Formerly the Stafko Products Corp." for six months at the max. But internally, not at all. Bury it, and don't look back. Once you begin championing the new moniker, staffers will quickly get the message. If you seem to be clinging to the old name - well, they'll do the same.

5. Take the plunge. Have all the things that employees handle the most - online correspondence, online/offline logos, business cards, stationery, forms, badges - ready at 0800 hours on Day One of the new era. Don't dribble them into play. Don't allow people to stockpile old stuff. Find a recycling bin and ditch all the old printed stuff.

6. Create a simple usage manual, and display it on the company Intranet. Get managers on board as early as possible with simple guidelines for using the new name and logo. Appoint a temporary New Name Czar to settle disputes promptly. If you allow conflicts over name usage to linger, they tend to become arguments for keeping the old name in play.

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