5 Not-So-Obvious Rules of Selecting a Name for Your Personal Brand

Wait a minute, — you are probably thinking now, but I already have a name and it’s exactly the one that my personal brand operates under! That’s right, but you need to ensure consistency of using exactly the same name across all of your profiles for better visibility, and there are different forms, spelling, and transliterations of your name that can make it a challenge. Let’s explore the rules for personal brand naming!

Use the same form and spelling of your name

Even if you use different forms of your name at work, with friends, and family, stick to one form of it for digital branding.

Let’s say, your friends know you as Steph, husband calls Stephie, only your mom uses Stephanie, and you prefer your second name Jane with colleagues and also have it on your CV. That might be difficult for someone trying to learn more about your digital footprint if you go by Stephanie on LinkedIn and on your professional website.

I encountered a situation with a client, a professional photographer, who came to me with a seemingly unrelated to our today’s topic problem: she used her name as a business name, invested a lot in going digital and at the same time worked on spreading the word about her services through friends and past clients, but didn’t see significant return on her digital investment.

Once we started in-depth investigation, naming problem caught my eye immediately. She had her full name Maria on her business cards and flyers, on her Facebook profile which she used as her business page she called herself Masha (common shortened form for Maria in Russian), and all of her clients knew her as Marusya (short form of Maria in Ukrainian).

Imagine what happened when people to whom she was recommended as Marusya [Lastname], or who received her flyer with Maria [Lastname] started searching for her on social media? Exactly, they never got to her page even though they knew correct spelling of her last name, because her profile was buried under all the namesakes!

There is a common practice to shorten Slavic and some other nations’ names in different ways and use different forms of them in different context, but that backfires in a digital world. Select one form you want to be know under, the one, that the most people know you by, and stick to it on digital.

How to become searchable by different names on social media

Facebook and LinkedIn have some ways around that by providing you with a Former Name or Other Names settings.

How to add other or language specific names on Facebook
In order to be discoverable on Facebook under different forms of your name, use Add Other Names setting.

How to add other or language specific names on Facebook

On Facebook, go to your Account settings:

  • in General section click Edit Name;
  • click Add Other Name;
  • specify your nicknames, birth or maiden name, other forms of your name you are using;
  • click Add or Change Language Specific Name;
  • add proper translations of your name to all the languages you are using on Facebook.
How to add former name on LinkedIn
You can have some control over different forms of your name on LinkedIn by adding former name, mostly reserved for maiden names.

How to add former name on LinkedIn

On LinkedIn, go to your Intro section, and then:

  • push Edit button,
  • click Add Former Name link,
  • specify your former name,
  • and specify its visibility (your connections, up to 3 degrees network, or all LinkedIn users).

(For more tips on how to use LinkedIn for personal branding, follow the link!)

Translate Non-English names

A friend of mine from non-English speaking country asked if that’s effective to use original version of her name on social media profiles, or should she use Latin characters to spell it.

My answer is: it depends on your goals. If you are not targeting English speaking recruiters or business partners, original spelling (such as Cyrillic, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic and others) can work.

But keep in mind that this can limit your visibility to those who do not use the same alphabetic system. While Google and Facebook might show, let’s say, some of the Chinese accounts when searched in English, LinkedIn wouldn’t be able to do that.

Also, your colleagues, even when you are connected, might have difficulties tagging you in their posts and sending you personal messages if they don’t have your language installed on their device.

So, as a rule of thumb, I’d say keep your name spelled in English for better visibility!

“Can I use emojis as a part of my brand name?”

Though it grabs a viewer’s eye, using emojis as a part of your name on social media makes it incredibly difficult for your connections to tag you in their posts and photos and complicates search.

So, using emojis decreases your visibility in a long run. Just stick to your name of choice, and save emojis for where they really belong — your posts.

Use Proper Handles

Another digital branding opportunity for your personal profiles is customization of URLs (web addresses of your profiles on social media).

LinkedIn and Facebook allow you to specify those in personal settings, Twitter and Instagram use your profile’s @handle there.

How to change username and profile URL on Twitter
To change profile URL on Twitter, you need to update your username, available in Settings.

Use the same approach you’d use for domain name selection: custom URL should be unique, relevant to you, and easy to read and remember. If that’s possible, be consistent and use similar handles across all platforms.

What name to use for digital branding: Recap

To wrap-up today’s topic, I only want to remind you that you need consistency to achieve better visibility for your digital personal brand.

  • use the same spelling and form of your name across all of your profiles,
  • translate non-English names,
  • leverage social media platforms’ settings to add former names and other forms of your name to make searching for you easier,
  • use your profiles’ handles and URLs for branding purpose as well,
  • never use emojis in your name. Just don’t.

Now that you know more about naming for digital personal branding, why not follow us on social media (e.g. LinkedIn) or subscribe to YouGetBranded newsletter?

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