Speaking at a party conference in Lille, she claimed the original name carried an “epic and glorious history, which no-one should deny”.
But for many French people, she added, it represented a “psychological obstacle”. The word ‘front’ was a particular problem, she said, because it suggests opposition.
Her attempt at forging a new, less controversial future was immediately undermined, however, when the deputy leader of the party’s youth section, Davy Rodriguez, was suspended for allegedly making offensive remarks.
On the eve of conference, it is claimed he called a bouncer at a bar in Lille a “black piece of s**t”.
Rodriguez has admitted there was an argument but told Buzzfeed a video purportedly showing the incident had been fabricated.
In many voters’ minds, the National Front is associated with racism and anti-Semitism.
But after Ms Le Pen’s strong showing in last year’s presidential election – winning a third of the vote in the second round – she is aiming higher next time.
“Our goal is clear: power,” she told delegates.
“We were originally a protest party. There should be no doubt now that we can be a ruling party.”
However, support for a name change is not overwhelming – the move was backed by just 52% of 30,000 members in a vote.
A further poll will be held on re-naming the party National Rally.
In contrast, 90% of respondents wanted a referendum on continued membership of the EU, and 98% wanted to cut immigration.
To loud applause, Ms Le Pen told party members that “legal and illegal immigration are no longer bearable”.
Ms Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie, who founded the party in 1972, has described a re-brand as political “suicide”.
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The 89-year-old, who was expelled from the party over anti-Semitic remarks in 2015, had his honorary position as party president stripped from him in a vote on Saturday.
The position has been abolished and Mr Le Pen was barred from attending the conference.