Orlando, Fla.-based National Retail Properties, formerly known as Commercial Net Lease Realty Inc., was having an identity crisis. After years of snapping up CVS locations and Circle K convenience stores, and leasing the properties back to the retailers, its portfolio has grown to 564 investment properties in 41 states with a gross leasable area of about 9.3 million square feet.

But people still didn't understand what the company did.

“We had a lot of people thinking we were brokers,” said Chris Barry, spokesman for National Retail Properties. “There was confusion and that was a big part of the name change.”

It's no wonder. The company got its start when Raleigh, N.C.-based Golden Corral decided to put together an investment vehicle for employees. In 1984, it launched the Golden Corral Realty Corp., a REIT advised by CNL Realty Advisors.

The company changed the name in 1993 to Commercial Net Lease Realty, and moved away from its Golden Corral start and into other free-standing retail buildings, such as CVS and Barnes & Noble. It went public in 1994. Later, it delved into office properties.

But just last month, on the brink of selling its only office development for $229.3 million, the company opted for the name change. It also promoted Jay Whitehurst to president and chief operating officer of the company. He had been executive vice president and chief operating officer.