August 07, 2017
In some industries, naming your business after yourself is standard practice. But is it a good idea? There are several points to consider before you make your choice.
Including your own name in your business’ brand creates a personal identity that resonates with customers and clients. “I am the person who my clients work with from meeting to wedding day to final delivery of finished products, so it is me who my clients associate my business with the most. It helps build trust,” says Aiden Rhaa, owner of Aiden Rhaa Photography in Boston.
For business owners who are highly involved in day-to-day client work, this can be a positive thing. “[It works well for] businesses that require immediate trust,” says Nathan Kirk, owner of Nathan Kirk Design in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. “That’s why lawyers and advertising agencies use the format. There is someone that is going to personally oversee your needs.”
If you plan to grow your business, naming it after yourself can be limiting. “The biggest con of naming a business after yourself is that people expect you to be involved,” says Grant Stanley, CEO of Bric in Omaha, Nebraska. “Customers expect to have access to you, and employees expect you to be heavily involved in the production process. This can limit your growth.”
In the age of the personal brand, tying yourself to your business brand can make self promotion easier. “More and more we are seeing personal branding take front seat to company branding,” says Kristen McAlister, president of Cerius Executives in Washington, D.C. “Individuals are choosing to market their own brand in social media rather than the company.”
When your business and personal brands merge, simple networking can become valuable marketing for your business. The downside of this is that anything you do—online or in real life —will be associated with your business brand. This reputation will follow you even if a business endeavor isn’t successful. “If your business goes under or gets bad reviews online, those negative records may follow you around even under a new business name,” Rhaa says. “This may affect the way your prospective clients think about working with you.”
If your industry is flooded with self named businesses, creating a unique brand identity for your business can give you an edge. “In a world surrounded by companies named ‘First Name Last Name Construction’ or ‘Initial-Initial-Initial Contracting,’ we wanted to stand out from the crowd. My goal was to be able to create a unique name, get the domain name, and look professional to anyone who looked us up,” says Nathan Outlaw, CEO of Onvico Inc. in Thomasville, Georgia.
Consider your long term plans before choosing to name a company after yourself. Selling a business and moving on can be more difficult if the business is named after an individual. “Businesses are worth more when they are not reliant on one person,” says Larry Miles, principal at AdvicePeriod in Los Angeles. “An eponymous firm may send the message to acquirers that the company is overly reliant on the founder.”
If you decide to name your business after yourself, choose a name that clearly identifies what you do. “Be sure to include a keyword for what your business does,” says Jeffrey P. Enabe, founder of Future Buffalo Website Design in New York.
A vague business name will not only confuse potential clients, but it could negatively affect search engine rankings for your business. “Smith Advertising Agency [includes] both your name and the main keyword you need to rank on search engines, such as Google,” Enabe says. “Just naming your business John Smith Agency loses the main keyword ‘ad agency.’”