Personal Branding: 5 Ways To Make Your Name Work for You

Posted on April 8th 2010

In my posts leading up to this one, I have shown you ways to build a stronger online personal branding platform by using social media profiles and basic search engine optimization techniques. Everything has been predicated on your being able to earn some listings in the top-ten Google search results for your name. This is relatively easy for unique or not-so-common names, like mine. (Do you think my parents planned it that way?)

But what do you do if your name doesn't stand out from the pack? What if you share a name with a celebrity or an infamous criminal? What if yourname.com is already taken? What if the Google search results for your name are so crowded, you'll never crack the top-10 without shelling out a lot of cash to buy links?

Don't worry. Even with what seems like a house of cards stacked against you, there are still ways to carve out your personal brand niche.














 
Option #1: Use Your Middle Name or Nickname
By using your middle name or initial across all your social profiles, you can stand apart from other people who share your name. You can also chose to use a nickname in place of your first name. Just make sure you have a nickname you can use in a professional setting.

Option #2: Add a Descriptor
Is there something you are known for? It could be your profession, a hobby, an award you've won. Simply add it to your social profile usernames. For example, I could use RichardHostlerCopywriter if I were building a professional personal brand and trying to distinguish myself from other people named Richard Hostler.

Option #3: Add a Location
When searching in Google, people often add location information to searches that don't provide the results they are looking for. You've probably done this yourself if you've ever searched for a local store you want to visit. For personal branding purposes, adding your state and hometown can help searchers find you more easily. Try searching your name, then searching your name with your state after it. Do you get different results sets? Make sure you add location info to all your profiles and Web pages to take advantage of these searches.

Option #4: Try Other Domains
If I were starting to build an online personal brand platform and found richardhostler.com was already taken, I would consider registering under a different domain. I could try richardhostler.net or the newer richardhostler.me. These are just a couple of the many top-level domain options out there. Try Moniker.com or a similar service to see what domains are available with your name.

Option #5: Change Your Name
This last option isn't for most people. It is by far the most drastic and most expensive option, but it also offers (depending on how much research you do and how far you are willing to go) 100% certainty that your name will be unique and easy to find online. It does, however, carry the major drawback of destroying any personal brand equity you've built with your given name, both online and offline.

So, there you have it. Even if your given name doesn't stand out on its own, you can still carve out your niche in Google by getting creative and changing things up.

Link to original post

Comments

RichardHostler
Posted on April 8th 2010 at 4:33PM
If you haven't built up any Google or forum presence with your current user name, you can change it with little hassle or disruption. Anything you have built up will be lost. (This could be a good thing if you are trying to start over with your brand.) Some sites are more receptive to username changes than others. If you do decide to change your username, change it across all the profiles that make up your online personal branding platform.

 

One piece of advice: Come up with a new username by researching the competition in a Google search. Then sleep on it for at least one night. Don't make any sudden changes.
RichardHostler
Posted on April 9th 2010 at 2:59PM
Smart move, John. Anything you can do to make your personal brand stand out online or appear more professional is well worth the effort.
SeoKungFu
Posted on April 16th 2010 at 1:43PM
Yeah, nice article. It comes with synchronicity right when I was explaining personal branding to some other people and how they could use the power of social media.

Using the middle name, yesterday - again synchonicity - came up the Boris SeoKungFu Krumov, right in tone with that personal branding call.

Yes - use google, forums, blogs and lots of SM presence - be good, be helpful, be provocative if need be, but contribute to the communities and your brand is there in close to no time.

And this link up there is to back up how true the post is, not for me to brag with nicknames, mkay ?