Think naming a child is stressful? Try naming a business.
A company is something that you’ll invest a hefty amount of blood, sweat, tears, and passion into over the years. There’ll be late nights, exhaustion, nail-biting, and anxiety to deal with along the way. Fortunately, if you pick the right name from day one, then your chances of success are significantly higher. Unfortunately, figuring out what to name a company is easier said than done.
With so many trademarks already established, and countless challenges to avoid on the path to a successful name, it’s no wonder that some founders decide to take the simple route and name their company after themselves.
But is that the right way to go?
Is branding with your name a good idea? Or does naming a company after yourself lead to more problems than solutions?
Let’s find out.
Naming a business after yourself: is it a good idea?
When an entrepreneur launches a business, naming is one of the toughest challenges they’ll face.
You need to decide whether your name should be descriptive or brandable, friendly or professional, and so on. With so many options to consider, using your name for a business can seem like the easiest way forward.
The research into naming a business after yourself doesn’t tell us much about whether this approach is a good idea or not. One research paper from the University of Oklahoma found that branding with your name could lead to a 3% higher return on investment for your company. Another article published from the Duke Fuqua School of Business came to the opposite conclusion, suggesting that founder naming leads to an 8% less valuable business.
In other words, there’s no guarantee that the strategy will have a positive or negative impact on your long-term success. One interesting thing to note is that both papers agreed that choosing your own title to represent a business places more pressure on you as an entrepreneur. According to the universities, when you share your name with your company, you’re not just carrying the weight of that business on your shoulders.
You’re also dealing with an environment where if your business fails, you could struggle to succeed as an individual in the future because you’re now associated with a problematic company. On the other hand, this extra pressure also means that many founders who name their organisations after themselves will go above and beyond to ensure that they’re successful.
The benefits of naming a company after yourself
There are pros and cons to just about any strategy for naming a company.
Choose a descriptive name, and you have the benefit of being able to explain what your company does from day one, but you’re limited by a lack of creativity and potential for growth. Choose a creative name, and you have a more emotional impact on your audience, but they might not understand the nature of your brand straight away.
In the same way, there are pros and cons to founder naming. Whether branding with your name is a good idea will depend on things like your personal and professional reputation, your business structure, your goals, and your industry. Some of the benefits of naming a company after yourself include:
- It’s an easy option: One of the most obvious benefits of using your name for a business is that you don’t have to spend forever sorting through possible titles, or brainstorming monikers. There’s no need to tear your hair out over a thesaurus looking for the right term when you’re just using your name. Using your own name also makes things easier for customers, because they’ll know who they’re going to be working with.
- It places you at the center of your business: If you’re creating a company where you’re responsible for delivering a service to your customer, then it pays to have a close connection to that organisation. For instance, say you’re an accountant, a writer, or a graphic designer. People will be coming to you in search of the service they can rely on you to offer, not the service that you claim your business can provide. Service-based companies often benefit more from founder naming, because it’s more personal.
- It’s authentic: Figuring out what to name a company means understanding how to convey the essence of your brand in just one or two words. That’s easier said than done. On the other hand, if you already have a reputation in your field, then it’s easy for people to connect your reputation with your company overall.
If you’re a solo entrepreneur or freelancer, naming a business after yourself can also help to develop a deeper connection with your target audience. It’s personable and familiar. What’s more, unlike other LLC names, it feels 100% human, which reminds your audience that you’re not just a money-grabbing machine – you’re a human being with values, hopes, and dreams. Using your name could be a great option to build deeper relationships with your target audience in an era where corporations are often deemed untrustworthy.
The problems with using your name for a business
Naming a company after yourself is tempting – particularly in some industries. However, it can also be a detrimental process depending on the kind of business that you run. According to one event hosted by Martha Stewart, choosing your own name for branding can lead to issues with the scalability of your company. For instance, if you’re an accounting company with just one leading accountant now, it’s fine for people to grow attached to you and your name.
However, if you plan on taking on additional help in the years to come, then branding with your name could leave people fighting over the chance to work with you, and ignoring the assistance offered by your other equally-trained employees.
Other issues with using your name for a business include:
- You’re at the heart of your company: You’ll notice that we’ve mentioned this in both the positives and the negatives section. That’s because being at the center of your business isn’t always a good thing. You’ll need to decide if you want to be able to easily separate your professional and personal lives, or if you wish to be 100% dedicated to your company. If you build your entire organization around your identity, then you need to be tuned to the needs of your company at all times. That can make it hard to have any kind of work/life balance. Every comment posted on social media, or a night out with friends could end up coming under scrutiny with the media.
- Personal names aren’t always unique: There’s a good chance that you’re not the only person with your name in the world. If you have a pretty common name, it’s going to be hard to stand out from the crowd if you opt for the founder naming route. The “John Smith” company isn’t particularly memorable or special.
- Your name can change: As permanent as your name feels right now, there’s always a chance that it could change. You might end up getting married and taking your spouse’s name (men, this applies to you too). On the other hand, you could end up getting divorced, or deciding that you no longer want to be associated with your family name for whatever reason.
- You may limit your growth: Branding with your name rather than a unique title could mean that you struggle to grow. Often, founder naming sends the message that you’re a one-person show. While there might be other people working around you, most of your clients and customers will expect to interact directly with you.
Naming a business after yourself has its benefits, but there are downsides to consider too. You’ll need to think carefully about how unique your title is, and what your future looks like before you make a decision that could end up haunting you.
1. Do you like your name?
Most founders don’t have to like their company name for it to be successful. However, if you don’t feel confident about your own name, and you’re using it to describe your business, then you’re going to have a hard time getting others to believe in you.
If you inwardly cringe whenever you see your name written down, or hear someone calling it at home, then you’re not going to have a good time when naming a company after yourself. One option is to consider using just your first or last name if you prefer one over the other. Whatever you decide, make sure you feel comfortable with your name, so you don’t have to go through the complex process of finding a moniker all over again.
2. Is your name distinctive?
Remember, just because you’re using your own name as the title for your business doesn’t mean that you can ignore all the basic rules about creating a brandable company. Your name needs to be memorable, distinctive, and engaging if you want to attract attention. With that in mind, if your name is too common, then it might not be right for your business.
Find out what happens when you Google your name. Do countless other companies and individuals appear? Or do you have free run of the internet? If naming a company after yourself will make it easier for your organization to get found, then it makes sense to take this route. If you’re just going to end up sending people to competitor companies, then it’s not a good idea.
3. Is your name easy to say and spell?
Another common rule to keep in mind when naming a business is that your title should always be easy to say and spell. If you’ve got a unique name, then it might be tougher for people to spell it, mainly if there are other more common options out there. For instance, if your name is “Kathryn,” expect people to search for “Catherine” first.
Ask yourself whether you’re going to have a hard time getting people to remember how to spell your name. Additionally, remember that all titles need to be easy to pronounce so that your customers can talk about your organization and share their experiences with their friends.
There’s a narrow line between memorable and awkward in the naming world – just ask Benedict Cumberbatch.
4. Does your name suit your plans for the future?
If, like a mysterious detective, you always work alone, an eponymous name or founder naming strategy will make a lot of sense. However, if you plan on expanding in the future to bring more people into your organization, then using your name for a business might not be a good idea. Ultimately, you’ll need to think about whether you want all of your clients to be asking for you, and you alone – or whether you need people to feel comfortable working with anyone.
Another thing to keep in mind is how your staff will interact with other customers if you’re using your own name for your business. Answering the phone with “Mike Jacobs at Steve Jones Ltd” sounds weird. So does having an email address at MikeJacobs@SteveJones.com
5. Does it feel right for your business?
Finally, some people feel comfortable operating a business under their own name, and others don’t. Sometimes, making the right decision about what to name a company means thinking about what feels right for your brand.
A business name needs to be able to engage with its audience, hopefully having a positive emotional impact on the way that your customers connect with your brand. It’s a tricky space to be in, but if you just don’t like the way your name feels when it comes to describing your company, then it’s not right for you. For instance, if your name is hard-edged and macho-sounding linguistically, it might not be right for a cupcake venture.
Personal name vs. business name: Which should you choose?
So, which way should you go?
Is naming a business after yourself the right strategy or not?
There’s no definitive answer to that question. Some businesses achieve incredible success with founder naming. Just look at Harley Davidson or Walt Disney for instance. Other organizations like Apple, Google, and Virgin have been successful without using a founder name.
In most cases, using your name for a business is best:
- When it helps to differentiate you: For example, by ensuring that people can find you on Google. If you have a unique name, it could make it easier for your customers to track you down and work with you online.
- When you’re the face of the brand: If you’re going to be delivering a personal service to your customers, and you’re the face of your company, then it pays to have that in-depth connection with your company that a founder name can offer.
- When you want to create an emotional connection: In the right circumstances, naming a company after yourself means that you’ll create a more emotional impact with your target market. Your name sounds less corporate, so people feel more comfortable working with you, because they assume, they’ll get a human touch.
On the other hand, using a creative or separate name is better:
- When you don’t want to be inherently linked to your brand: If you don’t want to be under constant scrutiny, or you’re camera shy, then don’t use your own name for your business. People will expect the founder with a self-titled company to be at the forefront of all marketing and sales campaigns.
- When you need people to trust your employees as much as you: When you name a company after yourself, people expect to work with you and only you. They might not trust your employees and colleagues as much.
- When people are looking for firms, not people: Sometimes, when people are shopping for services, like a writer, or a graphic designer, they’ll be looking to hire a person. On the other hand, if they’re looking for innovation and thought leadership, they might be on the hunt for a corporation or group. Think about what your audience wants from you.
Founder naming: Is it right for you?
Founder naming: Is it right for you?
Whether you choose a personal name for your venture, or something more creative, the truth is that your business title is always going to be loaded with meaning and importance. Business names carry meaning that entrepreneurs simply can’t control.
Deciding whether or not to use your own name to describe your business is something that you’ll need to do based on what you know about your organization, your customers, and your position in the marketplace. While there are benefits to putting your name to your company, like creating a more personable image for your brand, there are downsides too. Using your name can make it challenging to trademark your business, as well as preventing you from scaling your organization up as you grow.
The best thing you can do is examine the marketplace and the customers that you’re going to be selling to and plan from there. If you do decide to name your business after yourself, consider using just your first or last name to keep things short, simple, and easier to remember. You can also include hints to your profession, like “Taylor Photography.”
If you choose the alternative route and decide to create a new name from scratch, save yourself some time and effort by visiting Naimeo.com. We’ll help you to find the ultimate name without the need for hours of brainstorming.
Q: Can you name an LLC after yourself?
A: All LLCs must have a unique name. If your title is special and hasn’t been trademarked elsewhere, then you may be able to use it for an LLC. However, because your organization is more likely to be confused with you (your entity), you’ll need to use the initials LLC after your name.
Q: Should you name a business after yourself?
A: That all depends on several different factors. If you’ve got a company that you want to be associated with your personal values and philosophies, then naming a business after yourself may be a good idea. It’s also a useful way to make your corporation seem more human. However, using your name can be problematic if you don’t want to be at the heart of your company, or you want to give your venture room to grow.
Q: Why do people name companies after themselves?
A: There are many reasons why you might decide to name a company after yourself. For instance, some people will be more likely to remember a human name than a business name. Additionally, people are more likely to refer clients to people than faceless groups. Using your own name makes it easier to develop thought leadership, and you should have an easier time connecting with customers emotionally too.
Q: What are the downsides to naming a company after yourself?
A: Naming a business after yourself could mean that if you decide to hire more people, later on, your customers won’t trust working with them, and will demand to be seen by you alone. This limits the scalability of your business. Additionally, naming a company after yourself can make it harder for you to stand out if you have a common name.
If your name is unique, then you run the risk that people won’t be able to spell or pronounce it. What’s more, you’ll be in the position of continually being associated with your brand. If your business fails, your personal brand suffers, and vice versa.
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