Think back to the AOL handle you used when you were younger (SlimShady4Eva sound familiar)? It was funny then, but that’s probably not you want your customers to see you now. The same thing is true of your trucking company name. Maybe what you started with just isn’t working for your clientele anymore.So, how do you change your trucking company name? How you change your company’s name is going to be a similar process to the process for any other service provider. The biggest difference is that you’ll need to make updates with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). For our purposes, we’re going to break it down into 6 easy steps:
- Research Your New Name
- Update Permits and Licenses
- Get on the Same Page with the IRS
- Update the Company Name for Your Motor Carrier, Broker and Freight Forwarder Authority
- Finish Out Your Rebranding
- Get the Word Out to Your Customers
Even in short form, it may still seem like an overwhelming process, but we assure you that if you keep your focus on the end result (better branding for your trucking company), you can get through all of this relatively unscathed. So, stick with us: you’ve got this.
1. Research Your New Name
The very first thing you need is to do a thorough search of your proposed new name. You can start with an internet search just to see what is already associated with that name, good or bad, to make a judgment call for the future of your brand.
With teen pop culture being all over the map, you don’t want your rebranding to be a meme, a Tiktok, or a YouTube star’s URL. The last thing you want is for your company to be down low on the search list because someone has already monopolized the SEO score for your name. All your customers could end up watching unboxing videos instead of choosing your services.
You also do this because to make sure the website name you want is available.
More importantly, check out the U.S. Patent Office site for trademark availability. You don’t want your customers to be confused about you or the services you provide. Also, check your respective Secretary of State’s site to confirm that no other local companies share your name.
2. Update Permits and Legal Forms
Starting with your Secretary of State, you’ll need to re-register your company under its new name. Once that goes through, assess all the licenses and permits that you hold. You’ll be contacting the departments through which you originally obtained them–that includes a fee for most of these changes.
Some of the permits, licenses, and registrations you might have include:
- State Business Registration
- Class A Driver’s License
- S. D.O.T. Number
- Commercial Liability Insurance
- State Transportation Permits
If you need more reference on how all those things will work, here’s a good reference source.
You may have a few additional things that you’ll want to add to that list as well. Stay organized, keep calm, and you won’t need that emergency paper bag you’re keeping on your desk.
3. Get on the Same Page with the IRS
This may be the least exciting-sounding step, but don’t be frightened (and put back the bourbon bottle…not yet, friend). Every company needs to have the IRS side of its business squared away. As soon as it’s over, you’ll feel an enormous weight lifted off of you. So, here’s what you have to do.
First things first, determine if you need a new Employer Identification Number (EIN). Check their site to see what they need from you based on whether you are a sole proprietor or in a partnership.
Secondly, you need to figure out your tax situation. According to the IRS site, you’ll need to fill out Form 720 and Heavy Highway Use Tax Return, Form 2290, if you’re operating trucks over 55,000 lbs. That’s not the end of the list, but check out their page on employment taxes, too. Again, just do a little research and make yourself a list. It will be fine!
4. Update the Company Name for Your Motor Carrier, Broker and Freight Forwarder Authority
The list of Registration Options is the biggest place where your company name change is going to deviate from the process of every other type of company. The reason this is so important is they have to identify your business and keep track of your safety records. It also keeps you in compliance with rules and regulations.
This should be relatively painless. It’ll cost about $20, and after that, the finish line will be well within view. The next part of the process is where the fun comes in. Well, the “fun part” as long as you enjoy being creative and communicating with your customers. It that’s not your vibe, maybe get a friend involved.
5. Finish Out Your Rebranding
Here is the part where you get to flex your creativity. Hopefully, you’ve already gotten your URL with your new name wrapped up. Remember, you’re not just changing your name; you are rebranding.
Here’s a quick reference list to help you keep track.
- Color Scheme
- Business Cards
Consider what other changes you’ll want to make for your aesthetic with the name change. Do you want to keep or change your color scheme and logo? Is this a full-on new look, or do your customers already have strong associations with your look?
If you can’t afford a graphic designer, a site like Tailorbrands will help in the logo creation process. By answering a few questions on font and color preference, you could have a logo and brand package within an hour. They also recently launched a domain tool so by scoring your URL + logo in the same purchase, you’re already well ahead of the curve.
There are sites like Canva that will help you with a full rebranding of all your marketing tools. Once you have your name, color scheme, and logo wrapped up, its time to update the website and secure an email address.
Need guidance with website, marketing, or email hosting? Digital Dispatch can help.
When you’re done with that, think about the story. Update your About Us section to share the reasoning for your rebranding. The more personal you make it, the better. Let your customers know you and more importantly, how you will solve their problems. After all, the new audience won’t care why you rebranded. They only care about how YOU can help THEM. Once they know you can help them, then, and only then, is when they’ll care about your “why”.
6. Get the Word Out to Your Customers
And that brings us to getting the word out to your clientele. The website is such a great start but now it’s all about the distribution channels. Pick 2-3 social media networks you know you can commit to posting regularly (Linkedin and Twitter are my personal favorites–with Tiktok quickly growing on me). You’ll also want to collect any old emails stored in your contacts.
Once you have your social media networks down and an email list compiled, a rebranding campaign is in order. Compile your messaging using a lot of the same text from your “About Us” page and get to work on crafting a series of posts for each distribution channel. Start with your new brand name announcement, followed by a series of problems you help solve for the user.
TIP: Posts with an image or direct upload video work best for social media while a plain text email works best for reengaging an old email list. Get more tips like this from our marketing series.
Once you’ve gotten into a good groove with your sales and marketing process, don’t be afraid to branch out into paid media. Things like postcards, paid ads, and affiliate marketing all work well for engaging new customers and leads. Just be sure you have funnel process mapped out before spending too much.
It may seem like such a long and overwhelming process, but half the battle is with your confidence. No matter what is driving you to change the name of your trucking company, all you need to do is trust your gut and follow along with this simple guide.
Start with a little bit of research to make sure your name isn’t taken already. Then, make sure you update your name with all the necessary legal channels. Finally, update your creative and put all the appropriate ribbons and bows on your new brand.
Once you are all done, you just have to get the word out to your customers. It’s going to be challenging at times, but persistence pays off for those fueled by their “why”.