7 things to consider when you change the name of your service

A chameleon, representing change.

Changing the name of your service might not seem like a big deal but your users might not agree.

If you're thinking about changing the name of your service, there are important factors to consider.

Let's look at the key points before deciding on a new name. 

1. Do you really need to change it? 

Start by deciding if changing the name is necessary.

Is it being done to help users more easily find, understand, or use your service? Or is it change for the sake of change?

Any change will have its advantages and disadvantages. Make a note of the benefits versus the risks, and consider all the challenges it might bring.

Once you've done this, you'll be able to make a balanced decision. 

2. Clear and relevant 

If you do need to change the name, choose the new one carefully.

Ideally, it should clearly represent what the service does. Don’t make users guess, or risk confusing them.

This is the difference between service design with content design (a winning combination) versus brand identity.

A name that sounds cool, but has no real meaning, won’t help your users.

3. Make it easy to say and spell 

Choose a name that’s easy to say and write.

A name that is difficult to pronounce or spell can confuse users or make it harder for them to use your services.

Think about times when a user needs to write your email address, talk about your service, or find it through a search engine.

The UK National Health Service (NHS) gives its services names like ‘Find a GP’, for example.

One interesting exercise is to see how it sounds when you have to answer a phone and say “Service X, how can I help you?”

4. Test with users 

Before settling on a new name, ask your users for feedback through user research.

Test your shortlisted names with users from a wide range of demographics.

This will help to pick up on cultural nuances around understanding, pronunciation, and meaning.

The results might influence your choice in surprising ways, as your assumptions are challenged.

5. Communication plan 

How will you tell people about the change of name?

Tell them ahead of time and keep them updated. When the new name launches, it should already feel familiar.

Use internal messages for colleagues, social media for a wider public audience, and any other channels you think are helpful to share the news.

You could also keep mentioning the old name for a while to help people adjust: “X, formerly known as Y…”

6. Update social media 

When you change the name on websites and apps, remember to update your social media profiles too.

Change logos and branding and retire old hashtags.

Remember, inconsistency across channels risks confusing users.

7. Keep online links 

Don't forget about your wider online presence.

People should find your latest information even when they search for the old name.

Keep your online links working with redirects and landing pages.

Key takeaway: don’t rush this 

Changing your service's name needs careful thought. These points will help you make a smart choice that works for your business and users.

Did I miss anything? What other things should you consider when naming a service?