When I first launched MarketBeat.com in 2011, the business was called Analyst Ratings Network. I chose that name because I wanted to highlight the fact that we offered the most comprehensive coverage of analysts’ recommendations on the web. I never thought it was a perfect name, but it kind of made sense given the kind of information that we offered at the time and the domain name that was available (analystratings.net). I thought Analyst Ratings Network was the best name we could get given how many other financial publications and trademarks in the financial space already exist. Surprisingly, the name www.analystratings.net wasn’t taken, so we snatched it up and used it as our primary domain name.
Over time, we expanded the service to offer much more financial information than equities research and the name made a lot less sense because it no longer adequately communicated what we did. It wasn’t until I attended an entrepreneurship conference in April 2015 that I knew the name needed to be changed. A number of people asked about my business and whenever anyone tried to repeat the name back to me, it almost always came back as “Analyst Network” or something else that was totally inaccurate. Good brand names must be memorable and describe what your business actually does. Analyst Ratings Network failed on both of those qualifications. I decided it was time for a rebrand.
At first, I thought it would be incredibly difficult to pull off a rebrand. We have several hundred thousand people that read our content, numerous advertisers and business partners that would all have to know about the change. We also had the challenge of coming up with a brand new name. We ended up finding the name MarketBeat.com for sale on SEDO for $10,000. I figured that name would have been trademarked, but the only trademarks for that name were long expired. We ended up buying MarketBeat.com, MarketBeat.Net and MarketBeat.org for around $12,000 in total. We also got a go-ahead from our lawyer telling us it was safe to use the name, so we were free to move forward.
We had a new logo designed by a local infographic design agency called Lemonly (www.lemonly.com). Once we had the logo and branding material in hand, we set a switch-over date of June 1st, 2015. We immediately informed everyone we did business with of the name change via email, including advertisers, business partners, friendly competitors, contractors and anyone else that had helped grow the business in any way. We also sent a series of emails to our entirely mailing list prior to the switch-over. We also put notices in our daily newsletter and on the homepage of our website. The goal was to make sure that the name change was impossible for our readers to miss. We spent the entire month of May making sure everyone knew that we were going to change our name.
When the big launch day arrived, the name change was a big non-event. There wasn’t wide-spread confusion about what happened to Analyst Ratings Network. Because we over-communicated the change, the immediate transition was almost entirely painless. For the following six months after launch, we included both the old name and the new name in our emails so that anyone that missed our onslaught of communication pieces would understand what had happened. We also left the notification on our website for several months after the change. We kept using the old business name on our existing customers’ credit card statements so that they didn’t accidentally think that someone had stolen their credit card number. We also did a 301 redirect so that our old website URL automatically redirected users to our new website.
Initially, I thought it would be almost impossible for an established brand like Analyst Ratings Network to switch names. It turns out that changing the name of your business isn’t that big of a deal as long as you communicate it to your readers well. If you find yourself with a business name that doesn’t make sense anymore, don’t believe that you are stuck with the name you have. It is entirely possible to transition to an entirely new brand without losing customers, losing advertisers or having any significant adverse effect on your business.