As a naming and branding expert, please allow me to not only weigh in on the National Speakers Association (NSA) changing its name to Platform, but also share key insights to help you in the future wrestle with this issue.
7 Key Steps in Changing Your Name
Research Intellectual Property Issues – Many NSA members are complaining that the new brand infringes upon Michael Hyatt and his book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. Remember: Book titles cannot be copyrighted.
Distinguish Between Trademark Infringement vs. Mindshare Infringement – Even if there is not legal infringement into Mr. Hyatt’s territory, it’s clear that he has top of mind awareness with that brand name. Creating competing brands in the same sphere is dangerous territory. (Think Hallmark Pools versus Hallmark cards or Edison Electric versus Edison Hotel.)
Obtain the Dot Com – The dot com remains the gold standard on the web. Platform.net announces to the globe that you have a second rate domain because you couldn’t get the .com. And, as an organization, obtaining the .org would have been a better option, but that too is taken by another group.
Weigh the Equity of the Old Name Before Changing to a New Name – Clearly, life-long members had strong emotional ties to the group; it had power, emotion, and a strong connection. The new name seems to have fallen like a timber – errr, Platform, onto the group dividing it into two.
Determine the Benefits of a New Name – NSA was obviously plagued by references to the other NSA – The National Security Agency. Changing the name alleviates this problem, but so could have shifting to Speakers Association or another easy variation. A new name must have exponentially more benefits than the old name before changing.
Involve and Engage Your Membership Before Rebranding – Having changed the Denver Postal Credit Union to Eagle Legacy after 70 years, I know that buy-in from the membership is essential. NSA should have been soliciting views and keeping its membership apprised of every step along the way.
Recognize that You Won’t Please Everyone – I have never had 100% acceptance to my new brand names because it is a qualitative science. However, if your target market (speakers, meeting planners, agencies, bureaus, etc.) aren’t overwhelmingly happy, you have a problem.
Now, if you count up the criteria, how do you vote? Should NSA have changed its name?