Name Change Why, When & Hows: Case Study—Part 1

Nonprofit name changeName Creation/Change Guidance: Case Study—Part 2

It’s rare to see an organization change its name and that’s a good thing. Name changes are a delicate matter.

Assuming you’ve done a good job of building relationships with supporters, partners and others, your org’s name has equity. Members of your network—donors in particular—have established ways in which they relate to your organization, and your name is the most memorable trigger you have. When you change your organization’s name, you upset the status quo and draw attention to what has been a smooth and productive relationship.

But there are moments in an organization’s life when a name change is appropriate and in fact, may be absolutely necessary. These include:

  • New or expanded scope of work, and/or mission
  • Expanded geography served (if your name includes a location)
  • Change in meaning or popular use of you organizational name.

Green Media Toolshed was launched in 2000 to strengthen communications impact within the environmental movement. But when the organization dramatically changed the type of issue-based organizations it works with, renaming became a must

Green Media Toolshed is now officially Netcentric Campaigns. Our new name reflects our expanding work to help foundations, nonprofit organizations and grassroots leaders mobilize advocacy networks that will achieve change for the greater good.

Netcentric does a great job of explaining its name change, reassuring its community that its strengths and values will remain constant as its focus grows AND reframing the value of the organization’s work! Here’s how they link the past with the present:

When striving to achieve change, sometimes you need to change something about yourself…Although we’ve got a new moniker, we aren’t completely abandoning our roots.

Our team of 10 is ready for this transition. We know how to build networks that work and we’ve have been doing this work for years, after all…Bigger mission, bigger impact.

Well done! You see, no one really cares if you change your name, or your messages or launch a new website. These changes are news only when 1) you link them to the underlying moment of change (new online service for clients, providing service to new groups, a new leader); and 2) make that connection crystal clear. Netcentric has done a great job of doing so.

Name Creation/Change Guidance: Case Study—Part 2

What are your questions on name and message changes? Please share them here.

More Nonprofit Name Change Case Studies

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Nancy Schwartz on October 1, 2013 in Branding and Messages | 3 comments
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  • Lance Leasure

    As you follow up with the Netcentric team, I would love to understand the thinking behind choosing “centric” and “campaigns”. The use of “net” seems obvious, but doesn’t necessarily differentiate the business from Internet-based businesses.

    Why not NetForward, NetChange, Etc? Maybe those are taken, or too obvious? With the previous name, you understand what they did without having to think too much. Now… I don’t know.

    Also, I kind of like Campaigns, but will it be too limiting as clients/circumstances demand a broader offering?

    Thanks for the post and the promise to keep us posted!

  • Thanks, @lanceleasure:disqus. Great question. I’m going to ask Netcentric’s COO, Bobbi Russell, to answer here.

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