People are always asking me, is it better to brand my name or to brand what I do? and this is a good question about branding and there really is no simple answer to it as it’s so very important to get the right perception brand name that you will be using in the long term. There are several questions you should explore while making a brand decision though.
Is your name fairly short? My name is Keith Bloemendaal (blue-men-doll), which is actually easier to say than it is to spell. It is of Dutch origin, and I recently learned that bluemen means flowers in Dutch. Anyway, that was off topic, my point is that my name is hard to pronounce and it is long. My first Twitter handle was @thefencepost because I was a fence contractor and I thought the name was catchy. Last year I read an article by Scott Williams on TwiTip entitled “10 Reasons To Use Your Real Name On Twitter“.
That article made me decide to lock in my name on Twitter, since my whole name is too long I went with @kbloemendaal. Later I shut down my original account and primarily use my name now.
I do have other accounts that are more “brand” oriented that I use to promote my businesses, but for the most part I use my name. It is important to note that whatever you choose, use it on all your networks the same. I had used “thefencepost” on some networks, and my name on others so it was confusing for people that networked with me on multiple networks. I have cleaned that up now, and most of my followers recognize my username across my networks with my name.
This is a difficult one, and must be thought out as there are not very many good dot com domains left. If you have a local business, I personally think that using your business name is best if possible, unless it is just too long.
Again, if you are trying to brand yourself, and your name is not long and difficult to remember, using your name is a good idea here too. If you are trying to promote a product, then getting that product in the domain is a great idea. An example is my Fence Products site, I went with http://buy-fence.com (I also have fence-online.net which I am planning to use to separate my main two product lines so that I can optimize those sites in a more narrow niche). The point is, make it clear what the site is, both of those domains make it clear they are about fence.
Making these decisions is an important process, so don’t neglect this important part of the puzzle. Do your research, make pro/con lists, and make the best decision you can based on your goals. Whether you are networking to promote a business you own, are blogging to make money online, or are just having fun with a hobby, it is hard to re-brand if you decide you don’t like the decision you have made. Whatever you decide to use, check to see it’s availability across all networking sites to make sure you can keep it consistent, it will make things easier as your social network grows.