Should you use your own personal name for your brand or a business name?
Being your own personal brand can be super scary. If your business fails, you just wind it up and move on. But what if your personal brand fails? What if your personal brand doesn't work out and everyone on Instagram sees it? That's a lot to handle. If you are giving yourself a hard time deciding on whether to go with your own personal name or a business name, let me tell you one thing: Once you decide to go with your real name, things get easier and over time it will feel more natural too. Time to step it up.
What is a personal brand?
A personal brand is when you market yourself, your career and your skills by offering your knowledge or your services to others. Your brand can be in your own personal name but doesn't necessarily have to.
(I'll show you two great examples later of brands that act as personal brands, but don't use their own name.)
Being memorable is crucial if you want people on Instagram to remember your name and to be able to find your profile.
Branding means to be remembered for.
And as a personal brand it's important to establish yourself in your audience's mind. On Instagram, it's important to stand for one thing that your audience will remember. What is the one thing that you want people to remember about your brand?
Personal names are easier to remember = Personal brands are easier to remember too
If your audience can't remember your name, it's difficult for your brand to grow, because they can't look up your profile or tell others about it.
On Instagram, a simple name matters, because most people, including me, won't remember complicated business names.
I know for sure that I'm more likely to remember someone's first name than their business' name. Are you the same?
Names are one of the first things we learn as toddlers. Maybe that makes them easier to remember?
Why remembering the first 3 letters is enough for people to find your brand on Instagram
My brand name is my real name, 'Kristin Brause' (kristinbrause.com). But as part of my brand-building I refer to myself as 'Kris', which is what my friends call me. I use 'Kris' deliberately, because I'm aware that my last name is difficult to remember. I know that as long as my audience remembers 'Kris' they'll be able to find my profile.
Because even if you don't remember the person's full name or the spelling, usually the first 3 letters are enough for IG search. Look up your own name if you want to try it for yourself.
(by the way: 'Brause', pronounced BROW-SE, like SEptember, is German and means lemonade. So if you'll ever find yourself in a bar in Germany, go ahead and order a 'Brause'.)
Business name vs personal brand name
When I started my business, I spent a long time searching for the right name. The name I came up with was 'My925escape', which was based on the idea of female entrepreneurs wanting to escape their 9 -5 to build their own brand. It was complicated and looong. (Please leave a comment if your remember this name.)
Although the concept had legs, I decided to ditch it when my business was still young and build my personal brand using my name instead. It was the best decision I've ever made, and here's why.
Since I started using my personal name end of March 2017 my email subscribers on my list have doubled.
And if you would like to know the exact strategies I used to find my tribe to grow my Instagram account from zero to over 800 in less than 2 month, click here.
With a personal brand you can't hide behind a business name any more
Changing my brand name to my personal name was one of the most daunting experiences for me, I have to admit.
'What if I mess it up?', 'What if my business doesn't work - everybody knows my name?!!', 'What if I f**k things up so bad that I have to move to another country?'
Yes, I had ALL of those thoughts going through my head and I nearly fainted when I switched the button to move my domain permanently. I felt naked, small and exposed, like a tiny baby in a giant entrepreneur's world. But then I started to grow confidently into my role, and now I can't even imagine not having my own personal brand. I AM my brand and my brand is whatever I decide it to be.
How running my brand in my own name motivates me like nothing else
Running your brand in your own name makes you take full responsibility for your business. You can't hide, you can't blame anyone other than yourself. For some, this responsibility might be too much, but for me it's exactly the right kind of drive I need. I like to constantly push and reinvent myself, both as a brand and as a person.
I see myself as an entrepreneur and I want to explore many business ventures. First, I want to build a lifestyle brand helping other female entrepreneurs build their kickass brand online. As part of this, I want to endorse other people's brands and products and become a brand ambassador and an influencer. I want to offer a premium brand consultation to a personal client once a month, give workshops, design my own stationary range (because I simply can't find the ideal planner), interview other social media influencers and keep supporting small businesses on their journey to success. I can't see myself achieving all of this working with any brand name but my own name.
Two great examples of how a personal brand still works without using your real name
Example 1: Consistency - Mariah Coz from Femtrepreneur.com
Mariah's brand is called Femtrepreneur, but she has done a great job in branding her name and forming a strong connection between her brand and her own personal name. When I hear Femtrepreneur I think Mariah Coz and when I hear Mariah Coz, I think Femtrepreneur.
Mariah is branding herself by using her own personal name alongside her business name - consistently. If you have listened to one of her amazing podcasts, you'll know that she always starts off by introducing herself with 'Hi, this is Mariah Coz from the Femtrepreneur show...' and she does the same on her website, her Facebook Lives and her Periscopes (back in the day).
Example 2 : Colour - MarketingSolved.com
I once read a blog post about her brand colors. I'm saying 'her' on purpose because I actually don't know her name off the top of my head. BUT I remember her brand colours, which are gold and black. And the blog post I read was exactly about that, which is how her brand colors work for her and are creating brand recognition amongst her audience. Someone said to her, every time they see the color gold they think of her brand. This is a great example of a personal brand that works without using your real name. Instead the brand is defined by the use of color.
Should I rebrand as a personal brand?
If you are still reading this blog post, then I assume that this topic is playing on your mind, and that you are seriously considering changing your name. I think you should do it, and here's a quick summary of why.
The benefits of changing your business name to your personal brand name
- You are not defined by your business name
- Instagram is about real people and real journeys. The more you give, the more you get... meaning that the more you are willing to open up and share your story, the more other people will respond.
- You can reinvent what direction you want to go as a brand without having to change your name. If you feel like your business name doesn't fit any more, you're stuck, because rebranding a business is much harder than rebranding yourself.
Bottom line, there is no right or wrong. Either start by building your brand in your own name and maybe create a different brand later, or, if you feel more comfortable testing out the water, start with a business brand name and change it to your real name later. Only you know when the time feels right.
What are your thoughts on using a business name vs. a personal brand? Does it scare you or do you embrace it? Do you have concerns or ideas? Leave a comment below.