Businesses go through many different cycles. They grow (hopefully), evolve, and often take on a completely different form than what was intended when the business began. This can often result in a name change. What was initially a magnificent business /brand name at day one, no longer makes sense. In cases where businesses change their name, it can either be a very simple, or very complex job, depending on the size of the business. However, regardless of the business’s size, there’s a high chance that there is a Facebook Page for the business that needs to be updated to keep up with the branding overall. We have found that this process is not as straightforward as one might hope, and there seem to be a lot of criteria that you must meet before Facebook will allow you to change the name of the page. In this article, we will show you what to do when Facebook deny your page name change, and hopefully we can help you to avoid any stress or anxiety with this process.
In August of 2018, Vision Digital went through a re-brand and we changed our name from “On Purpose Websites”. At the time, we gave our Facebook page very little thought and settled on a name that made sense to both us and our clients. We chose a name that we believe future proofs our agency and will stand the test of time.
Facebook had other ideas.
We gave such little attention to Facebook that when we developed a re-branding timeline, Facebook was only mentioned after we were to go live with our new website and everything else.
Everything was in place and ready to be switched over at midnight, we even had a specialist work through the night to make sure everything was going well and could fix anything that might go wrong before people woke up the next morning. The problem was that it was only after midnight that any attempt was made to change our Facebook Page name.
The idea was that we wanted to make the re-brand seem as instantaneous as possible for our clients/fans/follows etc., and felt that starting the name change process too early could lead to a bit of a false start with our big reveal. This would be especially true if companies such as Facebook or Instagram decided to change our usernames before we wanted them to be done. We felt it was better to leave this as late as possible.
It turned out that We weren’t allowed to automatically change our Facebook page name, and had to jump through several hoops to get this done. The process took us approximately 3 working days (5 days including the weekend) to have our new name added to our Facebook account. This is a really long time when 98% of your business has a different name, and allows a lot of time for confusion with potential clients.
Before Considering a Name Change
While it’s never recommended to choose a new business name based on Facebook guidelines, it is important to understand your business and how much it relies on Facebook to operate.
A business with a Facebook Page that has hundreds of thousands of followers, and is generating a nice income, is going to have to seriously consider basing its new name around facebook guidelines.
A business with 20 likes on Facebook and only 3 months old could probably just start from scratch, if needed.
It’s important that you do your due diligence before settling on a new business name.
• Does it fit our brand?
• Does it give the right impression?
• Is anyone else using it?
• Does it encroach on any trademarks?
• Will we be able to use this name neatly on digital platforms?
In today’s world, being able to be found easily online is massive when it comes to branding and naming your business. Now, more than ever before, your business needs to have tidy handles and addresses, otherwise it’s too difficult for potential customers/fans to find you.
If your business name is “plumbing 2 u” is your Instagram handle @plumbing2u or @plumbingtoyou or @plumbing.2_u_ ?
Or what if your business is called “Digital inspections” and then you find out that all the good handles have been taken and your only option for a business Instagram account is @digi_tal_inspect_ions
In these examples, it will be very hard for you to tell people where to find you on Instagram.
Likewise, when it comes to Facebook, you need to make sure that your business name will be allowed to be changed to whatever you have chosen before you settle on that name and build a new brand around it. To do this, you need to look in to the Facebook name change guideline well before you move forwards.
Facebook name Change Guidelines
Facebook really has only 1 guideline when it comes to name changes.
This guideline states:
“Our policies limit a Page’s ability to make a significant change to its name that might cause people to feel misled. If you need to change your Page’s name, make sure it accurately reflects your Page”
There are rules around this, but this guideline in itself is pretty ambiguous. It allows Facebook to decide whether or not they believe your new business name (page name) is misleading. Essentially what this means is that if your name completely changes, and it’s not obviously the same business name, then they will not allow the change.
In our case, we attempted to change from “On Purpose Website” to “Vision Digital”. Our business had grown and we were no longer solely creating websites, but we were, in effect, the exact same business. Facebook didn’t allow this because they believed the name change would be misleading to those people who were already followers of our page/business on Facebook.
I believe that if we had changed our name to “Vision Websites” or “Vision Digital Websites”, we would have most likely been able to change our name with facebook immediately, as these names are similar in nature to the original, and also state clearly in the name that the business is about websites. However, these names are pretty foul, and so we were determined to force facebook into actioning our initial name change request.
How to Get Facebook to Change Your Page Name
Below are screenshots of the actual conversation between a Facebook rep and our owner, David. This initial decline notice from facebook is not below, but it simply outlined that our new name was going to be misleading and therefore the request was declined. Obviously, this is not what you want to hear when you’re supposed to be live with a new brand. See how we managed to change Facebook’s mind below:
What you will notice from the above discussion is that it took over 5 days to get sorted out, but more importantly, the process of getting this changes was relatively painless.
All that had to be done was to direct the person at Facebook to the roof that we were legitimately changing the business name, and had been prepping our “fans” for this before the time had come for us to request the name change.
Important Summary and Notes to Remember
- Make sure you’re choosing a name for your business that can be easily managed across all platforms, both digital and in the real world
- Facebook guidelines state that name changes cannot be misleading, and they judge on what constitutes a “misleading” name change
- Unless you are genuinely trying to mislead your audience and/or your business has gone in a totally different direction (or it’s a new business altogether) facebook would usually be pretty good about changing the name for you, as long as you can prove to them it’s legitimate.
- The disputes process is super easy and relatively painless.
- Make sure you announce any potential name changes to your audience on facebook before the deployment of your new brand and/or your request to Facebook to have your name changed, as this can help serve as the proof required to complete the change request
- A page name change request is exactly that. It’s a request. It’s not a guarantee. This can take some time if not done automatically, so be prepared for the delay.