You should change your name if you change what you do (if you pivot).
The average person can only associate one thing with a brand. It is really hard for a person to understand a company can do more than one thing at once. Yes, we have all heard that Heinz has 57 different varieties … but it still does not matter … we can only conceive Heinz making ketchup. Heinz mustard? That’s insane! Brands equal just one thing (and only thing only) in most people’s minds.
This is why when a company, that has a good brand, is acquired, the acquiring company should keep the old brand. Instagram and WhatsApp were super fast-growing brands when Facebook acquired them. So Facebook kept their brands because the brand had a strong association and following. YouTube is still called YouTube (and not Google Videos). Brands are good.
In fact, consumers seem to be able to hold more and more niche brands in their head. They don’t want just one brand that does everything … they want niche brands that do only one little thing really well. The number of options we have is growing and, in general, this serves people well.
B2B Needs to Catch up to B2C in Branding
This is also true in the B2B world. It is hard to change brand association. LiveRamp (the company I started) was acquired by Acxiom 18 months ago (as of this writing), and the LiveRamp brand is still front-and-center. Because companies were already familiar with the LiveRamp brand and they liked the brand. They knew what it stands for.
ExactTarget was acquired by Salesforce.com, Inc. a few years ago. It was a well-known public company with a strong product and happy customers. Salesforce changed the name of ExactTarget to “Salesforce Marketing Cloud.” Responsys, ExactTarget’s rival (and also a public company), was acquired by Oracle and its name was similarly changed to “Oracle Marketing Cloud.” These rebrandings, in my opinion, were a mistake: they erased hundreds of millions in brand value and instead, caused confusion to potential buyers and old customers. While both Oracle and Salesforce are great companies, they made a strategic mistake in thinking that the overarching brand means more to the buyer. Large B2B software companies should look more like the large CPG companies (like Proctor and Gamble and Unilever) that have hundreds of well-known sub-brands (which, in Unilever’s case include: Axe, Dove, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Pond’s, Vaseline, Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers, Q-tips, and more).
Read Auren Hoffman’s answer to, “Do You Know When It’s Time to Re-Brand Your Business?” on Quora.