Rebranding Roadmap – A Checklist for Changing Brand Names and Company Names

Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP
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Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

So you’re thinking about changing your company name, brand, or both.  We usually like to allow at least a few months to identify the new name and initiate protection.  To help you plan, here’s a high-level overview of significant steps in the process.  Happy rebranding!

  1. Develop a timeline for creating the new brand and announcing it publicly.
  2. If you engage a marketing agency to assist with rebranding, make sure the written agreement reflects that you own the intellectual property the agency creates.
  3. Create a list of potential new names and logos.  Rank them in order of preference.
    1. You can expedite this process by searching the Internet and eliminating names and designs used by companies in related fields.
    2. To achieve broad protection, consider adopting made-up words as opposed to dictionary words, or words from literature.
    3. Explore whether the new names have undesirable connotations in other languages.
  4. Conduct trademark and company name searches to check the availability of the preferred candidates in important jurisdictions.  It’s often more efficient to check on a group of names, rather than vetting them one-by-one.
  5. Identify the company that will own the trademarks.  Consider whether your ownership choice presents tax consequences.
  6. Acquire domain names and social media handles corresponding to top candidate names.
  7. Make sure your logo fits within a mobile app icon.
  8. Assess whether the changes to your existing brand are sufficiently minor that you might be able to amend your existing trademark registrations, rather than filing new applications.
  9. If needed, file new trademark applications in important jurisdictions.
  10. Add new brands to your trademark watching service.
  11. Consider filing new copyright applications for the logo, depending on how elaborate the design elements are.
  12. Review existing contracts to determine whether formal notice provisions are triggered by a company change of name.
  13. File documentation to change the company name with governmental authorities, and record that change in the Trademark Offices in relevant jurisdictions.
  14. Develop branding guidelines that require use of the brands as adjectives, not as nouns, and prohibit use of logos as punctuation, for example.
  15. Revise signage, marketing materials, invoices, directory listings, voice mail greetings, email addresses, and server and file names.
  16. When trademark registrations issue, consider filing Trademark Clearinghouse registrations to help protect your brands against domain name squatters.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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