What happens when your website’s brand becomes stale? What if you face and overcome a PR nightmare, but your brand image remains tarnished, making it difficult to fully regain former trust and standing in your industry? What if the scope of your website or company narrows or expands and your current brand doesn’t reflect those changes? It might be time to rebrand your website.
Rebranding your website can involve many things — from changing your design or color scheme to overhauling the entire identity of your site. Let’s focus on the latter, when you’re considering a full name / domain name change.
Dos and Don’ts for Changing Your Domain Name
Here are some basic dos and don’ts if you’re considering changing your site’s domain name.
- DO make sure the new name is brandable (for example, it should be easy to remember).
- DON’T change domain names on a whim. Have a good reason to do so before putting visitors through that kind of confusion.
- DO redirect all links under the old domain to the proper pages on the new domain so you retain all links and visitors don’t face endless 404 error pages.
- DON’T wait until the change to tell people. Promote the new brand name heavily in the weeks leading up to the change. Remind people to change bookmarks, let them know emails will be branded differently so you decrease the number of people who unsubscribe, and you can even let visitors get involved by running polls to choose the best of several domain name options. Giving people advanced notice gives you a chance to address any potential problems or rethink your plan (think about Quickster’s failure before the Netflix DVD brand switch even happened).
- DO secure social media profile handles to match your new brand name before you announce the official name change to prevent name squatters from getting them first (or to make sure they aren’t associated with people that could tarnish the brand name — again think about Quickster and the Twitter handle concerns).
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face when you change your website’s branding is maintaining awareness. If you follow these tips you’ll make sure the switch doesn’t come as a surprise to your regular readers or visitors and you can maintain consistency throughout your entire online presence.
Have you ever changed your website’s brand? Have you merged two or more sites under a single brand name? Tell us why you chose to rebrand your website, how the changes went, and what you did to make the rebranding less stressful on your site visitors. Share your tips, thoughts and stories in the comments below.