Written by Becca Edwards
So you’ve brainstormed and plotted. You know who you are, what you value, and who you want to be. Now let’s get practical; branding means consistency.
Let’s take Disney as an example. If you wanted to find the Disney company and follow them on Twitter, you’d search for Disney. And boom. Disney is @Disney on Twitter. Easy peasy.
Brands want people to find and recognize them. They keep their name consistent so that a simple search will bring them to the top of the list. The same is true for personal brands: make it simple to find and connect with you. If you’re not consistent in name, design, and content, you’re making it more difficult for others to find you online and be assured they’ve found the right person.
So let’s start with the most important part: naming and claiming. Until you decide the name you’re going to go by and secure it online, you won’t have a solid foundation for building your brand.
You Need Three Types of Names:
1) Your name. You can be publicly known by your real name, a variation of it, or a pen name. Think about short-term and long-term effects: how do people refer to you now? How do you want people to refer to you? How will your name impact your work? Only you can answer those questions.
2) Domain name. Your domain name is your website’s URL, which is how Google and other search networks find you. Since your domain is the hub of your online presence (Read about why a website is essential), your domain name is not a luxury. It’s a necessity.
3) Username. Your username refers to how people can find you on social media networks, such as Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. You’re probably already on a few networks now with your personal account.
Overall, my names are consistent. Since the username “beccaedwards” and the domain name were taken, I had to add my middle initial. Here’s an example of my names: Becca Edwards, beccamedwards.com, @beccamedwards (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc)
Pick the Right Name for You: Decide How You’ll be Known
If you haven’t thought about whether you want to go by a variation of your real name or by a pen name, now’s the time to decide!
1) Create a list of potential names.
Take a sheet of paper and create two columns: “Username” and “Domain Name.” In the username column, limit the character count to 15 to keep you from creating a username longer than what’s accepted for most apps and social networks. In the next column, write the domain names that you could pair with each username. Try to keep them as similar as possible, using a mix of your first name, middle name, and last name:
Create a list of five, and then expand to ten. It’s better to build this list now so you’ve thought through how you’d like to be referred to online.
2) Check for your username.
Before you sign up for all your social accounts and buy a URL, see what’s available. You don’t want to have to go back to the drawing board because your username is taken. Going to each social media site to check is a pain, so I use NameChk to see if a preferred username is available.
Don’t worry if a platform lists a username as unavailable. Focus on the main ones (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube) and any that are important for your work (such as SoundCloud for musicians, Dribbble for designers, Etsy for artists and crafters).
3) Check for your domain name.
Once you’ve narrowed down your username results, check for your domain name. Name.com helps you search for and purchase available domains. Since they’re a super authentic company and are customer-focused, working with them is a pleasure. However, you can also find and purchase domains at Go Daddy, Register.com, and 1and1.
NOTE: If you find that your real name is available as a domain name, you should secure it even if it’s not available for any usernames. That is a rare find, my friend. Buy it!
4) Secure the best name.
It doesn’t matter if you have a website, post frequently on Twitter, or pin on Pinterest. Secure your preferred domain and usernames now. You don’t want to come back in a month or two to discover they are no longer available. If you’re satisfied with this name combination, secure them. Secure them all.
For some, this process will be fairly short. You are one of the few people in the world with your name. For that, I congratulate you, slightly green from jealousy. If you’re like me and have a pretty common name, you’ll go through a trial and error process. It’s an annoying, frustrating mess. Believe me, I’ve been there.
But it’s worth it. For your personal brand, claiming social profiles and your personal URL sets the foundation for the rest of your online presence.
Charge onward into the adventure of personal branding with “Your Website is an Essential“! Wondering why creatives need to bother with any of this? Jump back to the “Intro to Personal Branding” to learn more.