Why You Shouldn’t Use Your Name To Brand Your Business

By Lauren | Core Message

Sep 16

You might think that using your own name to brand your business is a no brainer.

Although it appears to be a simple solution, in the long term, using your own name is a much more difficult way to create a meaningful brand.

What about Lorna Jane, Donald Trump, Pete Evans or Coco Channel, I hear you say?

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.

You see, 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.

When you use your name as your brand name, any emotional connection is based on your personal behaviour rather than on a meaningful brand story.

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When you use your name to brand your business, there is little opportunity to create an emotional edge or give your target audience a reason to want to know more.

And there are a few risks.

The Biggest Risk:

You want your brand to become memorable for the right reasons.

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

When you brand with your name, every public and private move affects your brand.

By using your own name, you could disenfranchise the very people you are trying to attract.

Donald Trump's brand once created an emotion of wealth and power…but as a political figure the Trump name has lost it's shine.

Lorna Jane created the emotion of vibrant fitness, until she alienated 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.

Using your own name to brand your business could disenfranchise those you want to attract.

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We are living in the age of authenticity, where it's far too easy to find out what you are really up to.

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

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

Creating a brand name might seem arduous, but you can avoid the risks of using your own name and create definite benefits of having a meaningful brand name instead.

The Biggest Benefit:

I recently interviewed a client who had previously used his name as his brand for his consultancy business.

Of course, it made sense originally, afterall 'he was his business'.

But now he has a brand name, he finds it much easier to share what his brand story and what he stands for.

People actually want to know what his brand name means, which is exactly what you want your brand to achieve - intrigue and interest.

Especially in a World where there is so much distraction and you have very little time to engage and connect with the right audience.

The fact is, if you use your name as your brand, that's it. 
There is nothing more to say.

When you have a brand name, and if you've chosen something meaningful, it opens up the door to share so much more about who you are and your purpose and passion.

  • Do you know what you want to be memorable for?
  • Does your brand tell a story about your core passion?
  • What impression do you want your brand to communicate?
  • How do you want to make people feel?

When you create a brand name, choose something meaningful.

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There are key examples of celebrities who have used their name to create a business. Many of them TV stars.

Ellen DeGeneres, Ed Sullivan and Seinfield to name but a few.

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 making a great income from helping people?

From experience working with hundreds of professionals to develop a meaningful personal brand, it’s going to take about 3 years for your brand to really ‘get known’.

That's a lot of time to get to the point of industry respect, where you have constant referrals, media interviews and speaking requests, from sources you didn't even know existed.

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

Brand awareness takes time, make sure you're investing in the right way, right from the start.

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Even one of the most well known personal brands who used her own name for her TV show, Oprah Winfrey, reversed her name to create a meaningful business brand and brand asset in Harpo.

And that's the other risk of using your name for your brand.

The Nail In The Coffin:

Your brand name is most definitely an 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’, it can also make you indispensable.

And that’s a problem if you want independance or 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 so 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.

If you want to grow a successful business that can run without you, choose a name that’s not your own.

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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 not actually that much 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 meet you.

Choosing a brand name is all about creating a brand that can 'speak' for you.

A brand can do that if you are prepared to understand your target audience and build the subconscious triggers into your brand identity that instantly communicate with 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.

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 are welcome to brand your business with your name, but be aware of the issues before you jump on the celebrity brand wagon.

Be aware of brand name issues before you jump on the celebrity brand wagon.

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It might take a bit more effort, but you can create a meaningful brand name that enables you to have an emotional connection that sticks in your prospect's brain and has them asking more about your brand story.

If you'd like to know more about choosing a brand name, you can read this article, or find out more about Neurobranding and how you can have a brand that instantly tells a story.

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About the Author

Lauren Clemett is the Best Selling Author of the “SELLING YOU” series of practical guidebooks Know Me, Like Me & Trust Me. She is a personal branding specialist and award winning Neurobrander, helping service providers and consultants generate more income from their expertise. For more information Click Here.

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