Promote Yourself with Your Own Name or a Business Name?
Naming your freelance business is about making a first impression on potential design clients. Your existing clients will associate whatever name you picked with the services you deliver.
That being said, what's best for a design business? Your own name or a business name? The standard marketing coach answer goes along something like “it depends on your situation,” and that's true. So, let us start with deciding YOUR situation. Open the questionnaire below and answer the questions!
The two circles in the questionnaire will indicate what to use when naming your design business: Green for “Use Your Own Name.” Blue for “Create a Business Name.” Click the below picture to open the questionnaire (opens in a new window):
If You Pick Your Own Name…
Naming your freelance business after yourself clearly capitalizes on your reputation, but does it clarify what you do?
Consider marry your own name with a descriptor, like “Design,” “Illustration, “Web Design,” “Logo Design” or “Advertising.” If you specialize in a narrow design niche consider naming your freelance business to something even more specific, e.g. “Smith's Wedding Invitations.”
Alternatively, you could add a tagline to your own name that reminds clients about what you do or emphasizes a characteristic of your business.
What if everything speaks for naming your freelance business after yourself, but you have a tricky name or someone else already has taken “your” dot.com domain or your name on Twitter, Facebook etc? Consider using some variation of your own name, e.g. a nickname, initials or even an artistic name, e.g “Deb's Illustration” instead of “Deborah's Illustration.”
If You Pick a Business Name…
When naming your freelance business, you could take the easy route and follow the naming conventions in your part of the design industry. What do other freelancers name their businesses?
Or, go all-and create an ice-breaking, daring, memorable name:
Naming your design business is a fabulous opportunity to demonstrate your creative ability! There's nothing creative about using your own name. […] People hires us BECAUSE we're creative.” Kristine Putt, Paragon Moon
Again, when creating a business name consider to include a reference to what you do or to some outstanding strength of your business, e.g “Affordable,” “Speedy” or “Colorful.” Don't get too clever with the references! Your business name shouldn't be a riddle…
If you primarily target local clients consider to add a local cue when naming your freelance business, for example “Southampton Web Design” or “Greenwich Village Graphic Design.”
A Sweet Combination
A third option is to use a business name, but link that business name with your own name whenever possible. Be very present in person on your own site. Use your own picture (not a logo) on Twitter, Facebook and every other social media profile.
Web designer Liz Andrade from CMD+Shift Design uses this option. Liz' name is strongly linked to her brand CMD+Shift Design. However, over time, she can choose to be more or less loosely associated with CMD+Shift Design. Some day it might instead become “Liz Andre and Joe Smith from CMD+Shift Design,” or Liz might totally detach her from CMD+Shift and become “Liz Andre from Apple…”
Liz enjoys the authority of presenting herself as a business. But, at the same time, she shows herself front and center.
Using this third option, you too can adapt when and how strong your business name and your own name are linked. When just starting out you probably want to emphasize your business name. When your reputation grows, and you gained some solid experience, you can bring your own name more to the forefront – or not.