Why you shouldn’t use your name to brand your business

Using your own name to brand your business may appear a simple solution, but in the long term, it’s a much more difficult way to create a recognised and respected, stand out brand.

What about Lorna Jane, Donald Trump or Coco Channel?

Of course it has been done and there are well known name based brands, but what may seem an easy way out at first, could create a rod for your own back.

The human brain ‘sees’ brands with emotion and attaches these to a memory in order to recognise and recall a brand when the need arises.

Having your name on your business could disenfranchise the very people you are trying to attract.

Donald Trump creates an emotion of wealth and power…but what has that done for his business brand, especially in the political arena?

Lorna Jane creates an emotion of vibrant fitness, one which alienates women who aren’t a particular shape and size.

Celebrity Chef Pete Evans healthy brand emotion, now seems to be quite frankly, a bit nuts.

As for Coco Channel, the brand emotion is chic and classy…but then, that wasn’t actually her real name.

It’s easy to use your own name because it saves you having to come up with something else, making branding a 
no-brainer. 
But your brand still needs to generate an emotional reaction in order to stand out and become memorable for the right reasons.

Do you know what you want to be memorable for? 
Because if you brand using your name, your personal reputation is on the line.

Benjamin Franklin once said: 
“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation and just one bad one to lose it”.

The biggest risk you run when you brand with your name, is that every public and private move affects your brand.

When a company stuffs up, personal brands like Richard Branson or Gary Vaynerchuk are responsible for the reputation of their businesses, but they focus on building the brand culture rather than on promoting their own name over that of their brand.

The question to ask yourself is, do you plan to spend many years and a great deal of money to build yourself into a celebrity brand or would you rather spend your time and money on marketing your services and how you help people?

Brand awareness takes time, you want to make sure you are investing yours in the right way, right from the start.

Your brand is also asset, like McDonalds, Adidas or Coca Cola, these are all brands worth millions more than the actual company. If your brand is your name, it’s going to be difficult to cut yourself off from it when you need to.

Tempting as it may be to brand with your own name when you provide a service, because ‘you are your business’ to start with, it can also make you indispensable. And that’s a problem if you want growth.

Personal trainers, photographers, real estate agents and business coaches who name their business after themselves have clients who expect them to show up at their door and no-one else will fill their shoes.

Like it or not, you generate a trust currency for your brand and when your company is named after you, the only exchange clients want is engagement with you.

So go ahead and brand with your name but be prepared to front up.

You are probably building your business to give you a lifestyle, otherwise you’d just be working for someone else right? If you are considering branding with your name, ask what what sort of life do you want to have while you are building your brand?

If you want to grow a successful business that can run without you, so you can focus 100% on the work you really love, you are best to choose a name that’s not your own.

From experience in helping hundreds of professionals to develop their personal brands, it’s going to take about 3 years for your brand to really ‘get known’ to the point of industry respect, where you get referrals and clients, media interviews and speaking requests, from sources you didn’t even know existed.

Yes, having your name out there as the go-to specialist for what you do really well is vital, but do you really want all that attention on your personal life, or on your business brand?

To really be successful, you need your business to feed you, not to run you. If you want to be able to grow your brand, venture into new markets, add a variety of services or franchise and duplicate, a personally brand named business could hold you back and stifle your options.

Most importantly, your brand is actually not really about you, it’s about engaging and connecting with your ideal prospects and enabling them to know, like and trust you, from a simple interaction with your brand, not necessarily having to actually meet you.

A brand can do that for you, if you are prepared to understand your target audience and build the subconscious triggers into your brand identity that ‘speak’ to their brain.

Neurobrands Fedex, Amazon and Baskin Robbins do this with ease.

If you really still want to use your own name in your branding, one option is to use it as an endorsing brand — ONEactive by Michelle Bridges is a clear example of brand extension which enabled a celebrity brand to branch out into the apparel market.

If you don’t use your name to brand your business, you can choose from one of these three proven formats:

The best brand names are either created, abstract or descriptive:

Created brand names include;

Google — a googol is a very large number — a ‘1’ followed by a hundred 000’s — the idea being that Google delivers the mos search results
Xerox — which has become an eponym (the echelon o brand names like Hoover, Kleenex and Band-Aid) where a proprietary name is used as a verb, or to describe a general use
Adidas — is Adolf ‘Adi’ Dasslers name joined together, interestingly his brother Rudolf’s brand is Puma, which belongs in the next category of abstract names.

You can certainly create a brand using your name like Adolf Dassler did, or play around with ancient languages or Greek mythology like Nike — the goddess of victory, to find a name that tells your brand story and create emotion.

Abstract:

Apple — a fruit or tech company
Twitter — a social media platform or a noise a bird makes
Dominos — a pizza chain or a child’s game

These incredibly well known brands are easy to identify because they are simple, short, catchy and easy to pronounce so the brain loves them even though they theoretically used out of context.

Descriptive:

The Cheesecake Shop
carsales.com
Jims Mowing (and many other variants including Jims Cleaning and Pet Washing Services).

Most service providers prefer the idea of a descriptive brand name over the other options. They feel they need a name that explains what they do, yet the most iconic created and abstract brand names do nothing to explain brand benefits and have massive recognition.

It’s also untrue that your brand name needs to be descriptive in order to be SEO friendly. All the web developers and SEO experts I’ve talked to agree it’s more important to be consistent with keywords and focused content, than to have a brand name that includes a specific word.

Oh and by the way, you should avoid using an acronym for your brand name too…

What’s wrong with using letters given IBM, ANZ, UPS and a host of others brands do exactly that?

Remember what I said about the importance of generating an emotion with your brand?

How can three letters of a brand name generate any sort of emotion? IBM and ANZ at least use blue in their branding to create a feeling of safety and reassurance. UPS is brown and gold, indicating down-to-earth but quality service.

But the brain doesn’t think in words, it thinks in pictures and it’s just too difficult to instantly convey a brand essence with an acronym, especially when you are starting out in business, so avoid it if you can.

Brands help your brain make unconscious choices and an engaging brand name works hard to make it instantly easy for your ideal client to choose you.

You can brand your business with your name, but be aware of the issues before you jump on the celebrity brand wagon.

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