The importance of using your name as your brand name for your business is a topic that comes up often. Choosing a name for your business – it sounds so easy, but sometimes it seems very, very hard. The age old debate seems to be should you use your name, or should you go with something else — and the secondary debate that always comes up is keeping your work together on one website, or having separate websites. These are just some things you should definitely consider when choosing your name, and choosing how you market your work.
There is no right answer to this question, and this is purely MY opinion on it, from what I’ve found that works best for me – I’d love it if you share in the comments what your experience has been, or why you went with the name you chose!
People connect with and buy from people.
10 years ago when I worked in the web design field, one of the vendors I worked with was named Kent Simons. Kent was an awesome guy, and whenever we had business calls they often had some personal components to them as well. We connected on not just a business level, but as friends. 10 years later? I can tell you his name – but not the company he worked for – because I liked HIM. Your clients are going to like you and refer you to other people. They will talk about you by name, so first and foremost I think it makes the most sense to use your name.
Often people say that their name is hard to spell or pronounce, and that is why they don’t want to use their name. Most of us have names that are hard to spell or pronounce. I know this first hand. Don’t let that stand in your way. You can teach them how to spell it, and you can register the URL versions of the misspelling as well.
Think you should use keywords in your name & URL? Think again.
Back in the fall of 2012, reports were everywhere about how Google was changing their algorithm “to reduce the amount of low quality exact match domains in search results. Exact match domains contain keywords that exactly match the search query.” (Read more on Search Engine Watch.) So if you were hoping to snatch up citystateboudoir.com and brand your business that way? Don’t bother. Google cares more about the accurate on page text now than it does that URL. You can build excellent SEO using your real name.
Unless it doesn’t make sense to use your name.
I am a HUGE advocate of specialization, so I think you should just focus on one business, but maybe you’re not doing that? Then we should look at what you’re already doing when you choose a business name. Do you have another photography business line? One that is already established under your name? Especially one that works with children or seniors? Maybe you don’t want to have someone searching for your name and stumble across your boudoir business? Then you might want to consider another brand. That said, proceed with caution anyways — there is no hiding on the Internet. Unless you do your boudoir work under a stage name, your children and senior clients can find you. Wedding clients as well – sometimes the Father of the Bride doesn’t want to know that you also do boudoir photography. And while you & I might not think it is a big deal, there have been situations where it has become one. This seems to be especially true with Senior photography mixing with boudoir photography.
One Website or Two?
You are only one person, and most photographers are running their business alone. Going back to specialization, you are you and there is only you — so having two websites, one for each type of photography you offer, can lead you to feeling like you have a split personality, but at the same time I think it is less confusing for most clients. If I want to hire you to photography my newborn baby, I don’t want to be looking at boudoir photographs. If I want to hire you as my boudoir photographer, I don’t want to be looking at family photographs. So if must have two photography lines, I would consider separating the websites as well.
The name options could be, for example, Christine Tremoulet Weddings and Christine Tremoulet Boudoir. Both of these tell people that I am me. Another option – which was what I did before I stopped booking weddings and turned my business to focus only on boudoir – is to have Christine Tremoulet be your primary brand, and something like Hot Mama Boudoir™ as your secondary brand. I did that because in the somewhat conservative South, I knew that there were couples that did not hire other local photographers as their wedding photographer because they did boudoir photography as well. (Ok, I also did it because Hot Mama Boudoir™ is fun to say!) That said, it wasn’t hidden at all from my client, it just made it secondary so it didn’t come up quite so easily in the search engines.
Which Name Should You Choose?
Once I shifted my business to specialize in just being a Hot Mama Photographer, the Avenger of Sexiness, I moved everything under my Christine Tremoulet named brand. I did a branding redesign at the same time, and it has been so well received that I’m currently projecting to make as much with boudoir alone this year as I did with weddings + boudoir previously. As predicted, all of my past clients were already talking about me by name, so it did not impact my word of mouth referrals.
If you asked me what you should do, my answer is always to go with your name. People want to hire YOU, and you are who they talk about when they tell their friends about you. They won’t remember your business name, because they don’t connect with a business, they connect with you. That said, if you have some special circumstance that keeps you from using your name, maybe consider your first name & middle name? Or as a last resort, give your company a completely unique name. But only do that if you have to!