What’s in a name? Your brand.

When I first considered purchasing a domain name — way before I even knew what I’d do with it — I naturally decided to get lauramoss.com. The only problem was another Laura Moss already had it, some photographer. So I dropped in my middle initial, saw the domain was available and snatched it up.

Years later I joined Twitter and thought I’d give it another shot. Surely the still-life photographer Laura Moss hadn’t scooped that user name up! But she had…or some Laura Moss had, perhaps the soap opera actress. Regardless, it’s one who clearly has no interest in sharing her life in 140 characters.

So I joined Twitter with my old AOL handle — we’re talking back in the day when AOL required a floppy disk and a dial-up connection — and tweeted a few times. However, my user name was “Arual” followed by some random string of numbers. Yes, it was my name backwards. At some point I realized this was borderline ridiculous — I was tweeting, not sending emoticons to my old AOL BFF CheeryHaze1992.

So I changed my Twitter name to my actual name, dropped some difficult-to-type underscores between letters and gave it a go. Luckily, I eventually had the sense to lose the numerous underscores and just use “J,” my middle initial, which also happened to be my email address and my blog domain. So simple. So obvious. So why did it take me so long to catch on? There’s really no excuse.

You see, I got my master’s degree in journalism and integrated marketing communications, and if you take only one thing from an IMC class, it’s this: Be consistent. You have to be consistent in your branding and the message you’re trying to communicate. This why successful brands use the same logos, colors, fonts, etc. That’s why when you see a Coke ad, you immediately know it’s a Coke ad. That’s one reason why Coke has some of the highest brand recognition — and brand equity — in the world.

What’s the lesson here?

1. Use your name — or the name you want to be recognized by, write under, etc. — on social media. You may not buy into the whole “you as a brand” idea that so many marketers, academics and so-called social media experts are pushing down your throat. That’s fine. But if you want to build a brand — as a writer, designer or knitter of cat sweaters — then use the name you’re going to use on your novel, website or sweater tag.

I decided to pull this post out of the draft folder when I saw that Kristen Lamb had recently written on the subject. She totally says it better than I, so check out her post — especially if you’re a writer! Here’s the gist of what she says: “There is only one acceptable handle for a writer who seeks to use social media to build a platform, and that is the name that will be printed on the front of your books. Period.”

Can you imagine if I’d clung to “Arual”? Ugh. “Yes, that’s right. I only write books for dyslexic YA readers. It’s a very niche market, but I’ve sure got it cornered!”

2. Be consistent. This doesn’t just apply to having your Twitter handle, blog URL, email and MySpace name all consistently be “CatKnit4U.” It means that if your blog header features your business logo and a tabby in a turtleneck, then your Twitter background probably shouldn’t be a photo of a sunset or a dog in a raincoat. It’s not about looking professional — although if you’re running a business, it’s something to consider — it’s about consistently communicating your brand.

Photo: Alan O’Rourke/flickr

6 thoughts on “What’s in a name? Your brand.

  1. I currently use my own name on Twitter and that’s what I want on the cover of ALL my novels! But I might change my Twitter name to catknit4u- I just checked and its available! Now I need to see if I can get my name domain.

    This is really great advice for a newbie. Thanks and let me know if you DO knit cat sweaters. hee hee

  2. Great advice. I’m lucky enough to have an uncommon first name, so I was able to get my name as my website, email and Twitter name – thanks Mum and Dad! Another thing I think you should be consistent with is your profile photo – it’s a part of your brand too.

  3. Becca, you better snatch up “catknit4u” now — I’m sure it’ll go fast. ;)

    Really excellent advice, Cally! It’s a good thing I’ve chosen to go with this very professional photo of myself consulting a Magic 8 Ball for advice, right? Actually, I was asking it, “Should I consistently use ‘laurajmoss’ for my social media presence?” and it said, “It is decidedly so.”

  4. I’ve tried to be consistent too. Unfortunately other people have taken my name. I’m good with Twitter and my domain name, but the e-mail address, not so much.

  5. It can definitely be difficult! I haven’t been able to get a single “lauramoss” on any network. I guess we just have to try to do the best we can! :)

  6. I think it only makes sense to ensure your public name/profile is consistent, especially if you want people to recognize you and buy whatever it is you’re selling. I tried to do that with my name (actually, I was just too lazy to think of something creative, heehee). unfortunately, someone already parked lizakane.com, otherwise I would have totally snagged that website. Maybe once my writing is publishable lizakane.com will be available ;)

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