We are completely re-branding our organization and starting with the re-naming. If you’ve ever had to name an organization or a child, you know how hard it is. You need to make sure it will work for it as it grows for years and years. You need it not to hold it back and you don’t want it to get teased. Quite the opposite: You need it to inspire confidence and make a good first impression.
It’s a lot of pressure on a couple of words and there are many stakeholders (directors/parents, CEOs/grandparents, staff/siblings). Getting everyone’s input and trying to get 100% consensus on one name can feel impossible. Our process was no exception and there were several disagreements along the way. But in the end, we found a name that expresses the core of who we are.
Our old name was something along the lines of ”The Institute for Training and Community Organizing.” One of our main pain points with this name was its lengthy drawn-out wordy longness. “The Institute” and “ITCO” were its real names and these said absolutely nothing about who we are. The other central issue was that we had outgrown this name: “Training” and “Community Organizing” are now only two of our eight service areas.
It was a descriptive name (like Florida Orange Juice and British Airways) that had lost its descriptive quality. Knowing that our service areas may continue to change, we did not want to go this route again. Different communicationist camps will tell you different categories of name types, but I think descriptive vs. evocative basically covers it. “Evocative” meaning the name evokes a feeling or idea about the product or company instead of being literal. Our new name focuses on our approach instead of services, but isn’t direct about saying it. I think having to describe it will actually be useful in a pitch.
Our new name is meant to highlight what we think makes us unique: our approach, not our specific services. We also went from a name that was 6 words long to one with just 2 words. I believe the change will be well-worth the investment of time and resources and the risk that goes along with feeling like you’re starting from scratch. If you could change your non-profit’s name, would you? What would it be?