Recently, a reader asked me if she should change her name....it was rather long with first, middle and then two last names....first husband, second husband. Maybe it was serendipity, but a couple of other readers contacted me with similar questions at about the same time. The concerns run the gamut from worries about whether their names were too long or too short, easy to remember or confusing, easy to spell, too common or absolutely unique. What's in a Name?
Can I make a recommendation? Pick one name and stick with it!
The primary importance is that your professional identity gets established. This takes time and consistency. Every single account for all your social networks, correspondence and email, websites, and your signature should be the same (or at least as similar as possible). It doesn't matter if your name is complicated or uncomplicated, stick with one name.
If by chance you have a common name....such as Adam Evans, or Don Low, then try using your middle name permanently for all correspondence. I decided thirty years ago that Harriete Berman wasn't unique enough, so I started using "Harriete Estel Berman". The fact that my name "Harriete" is spelled a little differently also created some spelling error problems - and a unique identity - the yin and yang of every name.
As another example, I met Mary Anne Enriquez through her flickr group as the "urbanwoodswalker", but there was another email "Waterswirl56", plus her name. Through months of correspondence, I was confused ...until I realized that this one person had several online identities, five email names and at least three different names on social networking sites. No wonder I was so confused. If you want to use a more poetic moniker such as Mary Anne, why not go with "Mary Anne Enriquez - the Urban Woods Walker." This develops a much clearer identity, sounds almost like a book already.
Most social networking sites will now allow you to even use your name instead of a number. Try your best to use one name or a variation of that one name for everything. Stop switching it around for different sites and social groups. I know sometimes they have a limit on the number of letters, require different formats or that your name may be taken. Just do the best you can to create one professional identity.
If I were starting over, I would work for even more consistency in the way I formatted my name. This is why I am writing this post. I am giving you my words of wisdom gained from experience. Learn from my mistakes.
For people just starting out and looking to establish their professional identity as an artist or maker, pick one name (possibly including your middle name) and then repeatedly use the same name for your website, email, social networking and Etsy site. Professionally, I do not recommend selecting cute or fancy names for your "shop" or website.
Think about how effective one name is for Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Eileen Fisher, and Vera Wang. Each one of these designers started somewhere small and unknown to develop their identity. You can too.
Pick one name and try one format as close as you can for all sites, tags, keywords, photo descriptions, exhibitions, and shows. Skip the cutesy shop names and online identities.
Harriete (with an "e" at the end) Estel Berman.
Examples of my professional contacts are below:
- My blog http://www.askharriete.typepad.com
- Twitter http://twitter.com/harrietee
- crafthaus http://crafthaus.ning.com/profile/HarrieteEstelBerman
- flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/harriete-estel-berman/
- Facebook http://www.facebook.com/harriete.estel.berman
- LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/harrieteestelberman
Find me on your favorite social network.