Should I have a business name? I’m stumbling and struggling with how to come up with a name.
A reader in search of a name!
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:
Deb Stoner has always chosen to do her work under her own name as her artist identity.
"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.
It would seem to be a lot more focused to keep one name for your website, email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, all 2.0 social networking, and online 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.
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.
Artists 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?
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.
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 memorable. 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.
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 website 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.
So in summary, I'd suggest working with your own name and making it distinctive and memorable.
What is your solution to this dilemma 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 website? Are you Lost or Found?
Future posts will be about tag lines and improving SEO for your images and website with easy suggestions.
This post was updated on January 27, 2022.