Common name conundrum: How to brand yourself
WFFH: Make your website stand out even when your name does not
Writer’s note: This post was originally published on Medium’s The Startup publication on July 22, 2019. (“Work Fluently From Home,” or WFFH, is a series within “Window Shopping” geared toward entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, gig workers and startups.)
Imagine being born and raised as Ashton Kutcher, and then an actor named Christopher Kutcher decides to go by his middle name “Ashton.” You want to make your own website stand out, but you know people will focus on the name. Now whenever you’re directing people to your website on social media or even filling out a job application, eyebrows raise and wonder if this is indeed the practical joker who invested six digits into Uber. Or, is he playing another one of his notorious jokes?
Or, maybe you happened to be someone like “Black Panther” actor Michael Bakari Jordan who took his father’s namesake long before a certain Chicago Bulls player started winning championships.
With the U.S. Census Bureau confirming there at least 151,671 different last names and 5,163 different first names in common, common name conundrums are bound to happen. Both businesses and everyday people have to figure out a way to create their own brands around it.
Playing the name game
While working on a law marketing assignment for Upwork, I kept thinking about a recent reporting project that almost made me compile interview questions for the wrong person. Yikes!
Guneet Kaur, an Oxford and Berkley alumnus, has dedicated her professional life to legal aid for people who have been detained, arrested or prosecuted for Naxal terrorism in Jagdalpur, Chattisgarh. She even has a TEDx Talk regarding her work. But my interviewee was Guneet Kaur, Esq., the Santa Barbara, California attorney from the Law Office of Guneet Kaur.
Same name, totally different people. And it was too easy to mistake one person for the other simply for their legal affiliations and their common names. It’s not just celebrities that this kind of stuff happens too. Clearly lawyers, business professionals and fact-checking journalists can deal with it too.
But for e-commerce businesses, brick-and-mortar stores and other for-profit retailers, establishing a brand and a name that stands out is imperative. Here’s what you should do.