Branding Marketing Photography Marketing

The Importance of Using Your Name as Your Brand

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 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!

Photo Credit: Stefan Tell via cc

By Christine

Business Coach for Local Businesses, founder of the InstaLocal System, and Best-Selling Author. Blogger since 2000, I named WordPress. (Yes. Really.) My Superpower: Helping Local Business owners like you use the power of story to magnetize clients and dominate your market. It is time to stop believing the lies of the Perfection Culture. I live in Houston, Texas when I'm not on a road trip adventure in my Mini Cooper.

21 replies on “The Importance of Using Your Name as Your Brand”

I like this post, but take offense to this statement: “Maybe you don’t want to have someone searching for your name and stumble across your boudoir business?”

I’m sure it’s not intended, but this reads as if shooting boudoir is shameful and should be hidden.

I’m so sorry it made you feel that way Lynn, as that is obviously not how I feel at all. I was going to clarify it more in the post as I wrote it, but I had hoped that the surrounding sentences and the examples used explained my point enough?

In some situations, blending the two businesses is not good. I’ve heard stories that are not mine to share – but that was the thinking behind the statement.

Just to be clear – Women are AMAZING and there is NO SHAME in boudoir!

While I agree with you that using your name is best, in my situation, I chose not to use my name because my name is very common. Jennifer Lynn, was a popular combination when naming daughters in the 70s and 80s. When I was deciding on a name for my business, I found that there was more than one photographer who used the name “Jennifer Lynn” or “Jenny Lynn” for their business. While none of them were local to me, it would make it difficult to use my name for my business if I wanted to stand out. Now, I suppose I could use my first name only with my last name and make it “Jennifer Deitz Photography” but as a single woman, if I get married someday, I’ll most likely change my last name to my husband’s and then will need to change my business name. Maybe that isn’t the best reason to not use my own name, it is what I have chosen. Using the name I do – Roslyn Margaret Photography -has posed some challenges because everyone calls me Roslyn but I like my business name and I’m keeping it. 🙂

I just stumbled upon this as I’m searching for examples of people having two photography brands. I feel like I need to rename my business as my name is not very easy to spell and is very foreign which I know puts people off. I don’t know if you’ve covered this already, but I’d be interested to read about dealing with moving your main business (portraits, for example) to another brand name, and keeping the old business name/website for more personal work and/or another specialty (weddings, for example).

Great article. I changed my photography business name from a fictitious name to Heather Hummel Photography over a year ago and am so glad I did. I do land and seascape photography, and my work is represented by a gallery in NYC. It would have been brand and recognition confusion if I had continued to use my old biz name for most things, then Heather Hummel in a gallery. People in a gallery are looking for the name of an artist, not a business name.

I do all of my writing under my pen name, Icy Sedgwick, and when I decided to set up my Etsy shop to sell my handmade goods, I ended up using Icy Handmade since everything is handmade, and everything is made by me! That way I figured I’d tie the two together, since I do have Etsy customers who like my writing, and some readers like my jewellery, and while they’re on separate platforms for those who aren’t interested in both, they’ll still show up if people search for me.

Christine, any down side to using a different name other than your own for your business? I really do not want my name to be out there all over the web so was looking at using a different name for my web design business, similar to what authors and other artists do. I want to go with a personal name, not a business name. Thanks.


Hi Christine!
I have two questions for you! 🙂

I want to create a business with my name, however my last name is really difficult to pronounce and often gets misspelled. Should I consider using my middle name? Maybe, nix that idea and choose a professional sounding business name?

Secondly, If I am to create business around my name, will changing my last name after marriage impact my ability to market, webhost, etc?

Hi Laura! I understand having a difficult to pronounce and hard to spell last name! It might be worth considering using your middle name, but just realize that either people will have a hard time still associating the two names you have (and it can feel awkward introducing yourself) -or- people will think that your middle name is your last name. My good friend Audrey Michel deals with this; people call her husband Mr. Michel all the time. It isn’t her last name. That said, if you are planning to change your name in the future? Going with your middle name may be easier. Then it won’t have to change as your marital status does. In the end, you have to choose what feels best for you.

That’s a great article. That was my first hurdle, go with my name + photography at the end or try something different. In the end I’ve chosen The Ultimate Photographer, that might put people off or people might just be curious…time will tell. What do you think?

Hi! This is a great article! I feel like I am still not sure what to do about my business names though because I already started branding one of my businesses under a name other than my own. My name is Margaret Johnson but I have a pinup and boudior photography company under “Peggy Sue Pinup Studio”. (Peggy Sue is a nickname I had when I was younger.) Then I started “Margaret Johnson Images” for my headshots, product photography and logo design. (This is a less established business than Peggy Sue Pinup Studio.) I chose not to use the name Peggy Sue again because if I had a business executive, who is looking for headshots, google “Peggy Sue photography”, I didn’t want pinup photos popping up. Now, just to confuse matters, I am thinking about getting into newborn and maternity portraits as another separate business. I don’t think it will fit well under either of my other existing brands. So, I was thinking of coming up with yet another first and last name altogether. But not a name that I am already using. (Possiby Sophia Madison Photography because it sounds classy.) Do you think this is unwise? I know I can use one name for everything and just change the ending (like Peggy Sue Pinups, Peggy Sue Images, Peggy Sue Babies), but I didn’t want the brands bleeding into each other. I am so confused and would love some advice! Thank you in advance for your help!

Where do I stand as a photographer who’s name is ‘Lee Cant’ (not Can’t) I get so much stick for my surname, and thinking about attaching ‘Photography’ to the end of ‘Lee Cant Photography’ just pains me. I’ve been running under a business name of ‘’ which I’ve come to accept but never really loved it and did it purely because of my surname issue.

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