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What's in a Name? Is Your Artist Identity LOST or FOUND in a sea of names?

Harriete,

Should I have a business name?  I’m stumbling and struggling on how to come up with a name.

Signed,
A reader in search for a name!

PDSCraftReportcolor72 While this question is a condensed version of questions from readers, it represents a fairly frequent issue. It also highlights concerns that are relevant to the Niche Marketing theme for the upcoming Professional Development Seminar  at the Seattle SNAG Conference.

PDS speakers include:

Hilary Pfeiffer who uses her own name for her serious work, but calls her wedding toppers business "Bunny with a Tool Belt".

emiko oye refers to her jewelry line as Reware (though I noticed that the web site name is actually "reware style.")

Deb Stoner has always chosen to do her work under her own name as her artist identity.

ChocolateQuestion200 What I want to ask all our speakers and readers of ASK Harriete:

"Why did you choose to operate under a fictitious business name rather than your own name as an artist or maker?"

"How did you pick this particular business name?"

My primary concern with a business name is the difficulty that most people have developing even one artistic identity, let alone two. In most cases I believe it splits awareness you have built and confuses potential customers or your online network.

Focus-on-goals-1 It would seem to be a lot more focused to keep one name for your web site, email, Facebook, LinkedIN, Flickr, all 2.0 social networking and on-line marketing . One name, or a variant of your name, constantly reinforces one singular identity. Repeated consistently at every site helps the one identity to gain recognition.

Vera-wang There are many examples of companies in all industries who are well known under an individual name such as Jack Lenor Larsen, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Vera Wang (right) and Thomas Kinkade.

Mrclean_logo To add further emphasis to the idea of one name, it is considered a strong marketing advantage to have a singular identity to represent a brand. Examples include Aunt Jemima, Mr. Clean, Dear Abby to Papa John's, or personal testimonials that create intimacy with a brand such as Keira Knightley in advertising for Channel.

Keira-Knightley-for-Chanel-Coco-Mademoiselle-Perfume Artist's already have a name to associate with a product. Why would we dilute this asset by creating a company name?

Here are some practical suggestions about names that may enhance the effectiveness of an identity.

  • Is the spelling of the name unique in some way?
  • Would your middle name or maiden name create a more unique name?

HEB2.72gr For example, my mother made up her own spelling for Harriete when I was born. At this point, it works really well to differentiate my Harriete from all more common spellings of Harriet, or Harriette. Look up Harriete on a Google search with an "e" at the end. Tell me what happens.

Bunny1 Think about your identity name carefully.  If you are making up your own business name, make it memorable. It seems to me that "Bunny With a Tool Belt" is wacky enough to be memoralble. That is good marketing. On the other hand, on her postcard (above right) Hilary Pfeifer did not put her name anywhere on the card. "Bunny with a Tool Belt" is the business identity.

I admit to being confused by this approach. All the name recognition gained for either your business or your own name doesn't really benefit the other...unless you market them together.

Reware1 Reware_solar_tote Rewareeverest RewareEmikoshorts PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR YOUR BUSINESS NAME should avoid using a term in your business name that has many other associations. Ironically, "reware" (used by emiko oye for her web site and business identity) has many other search results (shown to the left) from reware clothing, to a reware business for solar bags, solar backpacks, computer parts,  and software. Starting out with a business name with many other search associations just makes it harder to stand out as a singular identity in any niche market for your business. (Try typing in Reware in an image search to see what happens.) 

If there is a list of competitors with the same or similar business names, it is hard to get a top search engine ranking for your business.

HEB1.72gr

 

So in summary, I'd suggest working with your own name and making it distinctive and memorable.

What is your solution to this deliemma and why? I'd like to hear what the readers of ASK Harriete have to say to add insight to this issue. What are the search results for your name, business name and web site? Are you Lost or Found?

Harriete.

Future posts will be about Tag lines and improving SEO for your images and web site with easy suggestions.

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