I wonder if savvy parents are considering more original names or spellings for their children nowadays. Our names now have to be more universal for a global community and audience online. People born with unique, interesting names that are easy to spell and look up online have a natural advantage for personal online brands.
More and more folks are using aliases and alternatives to their real full names (also for privacy purposes). Here are a few reasons you should create a new personal name brand online.
1) You don't own your domain or username.
This is a common problem. Somebody else owns your username or the .com of your name and you are forced to find alternatives. Twitter names are becoming a particular problem with name squatters and most any name you might want taken. Chances are your real full name is taken and you are forced to add a middle initial or number to it (out of default).
It's really important you own your name, whatever it is, across all social media platforms. Consistency is key. It makes you easier to find and more accessible. I more or less own "Rick Chung" online.
If your desired domain or usernames are available, secure them now! (Domains cost $10 a year.)
Tip: Use NameChk to see if your desired username is available across popular social networks.
2) It's hard to remember (or spell).
A lot of folks may have unique names, but sometimes they are hard to remember or even spell. This is bad name brand recognition. Whatever name you go by (your real name if you are so lucky), you want it to be easy to remember, spell, and find online.
This is something Hollywood celebs has been doing for a long time. For example, Jon Stewart was born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz.
Trust me, it matters. Hard names to spell or with multiple spellings make it that much harder for someone to find you. Not all of us are blessed with common (but not too common, see #3) names spelled easily phonetically, but are also memorable and stand out. This is where creative license comes in.
Tip: If you can, register different spellings or common misspellings of your your name and redirect them to the proper location.
3) It's too common.
I'm super lucky. You'd think a common first name (Rick) and common Chinese last name (Chung) would mean there are a ton of Rick Chung's out there. I mean, I know like five Eric Chan's at least, no joke. Fortunately, I'm pretty much the only Rick Chung online (of note). I own almost all the usernames online and have secured all the top-level domains (.com, .net, .org, .ca).
4) You can't Google it.
So if you have a common name, it would make sense that it is hard to find your stuff and forces you lower on Google search rankings. Any name you choose should make you easier to Google.
Some names are impossible to Google, mostly for reasons 2 and 3. Maybe you share your name with somebody (relatively) famous or at least more well known than you. It's super important whatever name, brand, title, or handle you go by, it shows up as your info. Search "Rick Chung" and it's all me.
5) It sounds boring (so be creative).
A great name or brand is catching, memorable, and plays as a good first impression. There are extra points for creativity. Puns and clever spellings are fun, but don't be too cute. Sometimes adding simple things to note your location, interests, or industries are simple ways of modifying your desired names, i.e., adding "ca" (for Canada) "bc" (British Columbia) or "pr" (Public Relations) to the end of your name. But try not to limit yourself (in case you move or change careers).
I'm not a fan of reversing the order of your full name (unless it flows) or adding "the" before it. Also, no numbers; unless you have a creative way of using it, no one will remember it. Use dashes and underscores sparingly. No more than one and don't start with it. URLs with dashes are hard to say out loud. Go to "Rick dash Chung dot com" doesn't have the same ring to it. Keep it simple and short.
Here a few of my favourite local branded folks:
Eudorah Koh = Eudorable
Lisa Wong + Lifestyle = Solo Lisa
Alicia Quan + Fashion = Alicia Fashionista
Allie + Vancouver = Vancity Allie
Queenie C. + Design = KueC Designs
Shirley Chu = Surely Chew
Eli Glasner + Movies = Glaser on Film
Whatever, you choose. It should be creative, memorable, and stand out.
True story: Everyone I know from online calls me "Rick Chung" and never just "Rick".
Photo | Kate Black