Yes, branding under your own name may be a bad idea.
Given the large number of “experts” giving this advice, I’m going to be a lone voice in the wilderness here and advocate against this practice.
Following this advice blindly could cost you later. But instead of telling you what to do, I’m going to educate you on some points that I believe those other so-called experts ignore… and then you can make an educated decision that is right for you, and your business.
Here are 3 important points to keep in mind if you are thinking of branding under your name:
1. Your name doesn’t convey what your site is about.
When a visitor lands on your website, you have about 15 seconds to capture their attention and convey to them that they are in the right place. 15 seconds or LESS.
So when the name of your website is your name — say, LesaTownsend.com — and your banner says “Lesa Townsend”, people have no idea what your site is about. Well, maybe they do, if it is all about you. But if you are trying to run a business via your website, you have to first convince the visitor that you have something of value to offer her before she will care at all about you.
It is much easier to convey what (and who) your site is about when you brand under a name that conveys the value you bring to your clients.
2. Your name doesn’t help you earn search traffic
If you would like search engines to send you traffic, you have to help them to figure out what your site is about. This process is commonly referred to as Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, but it’s really nothing more than giving the search engines the information that they need to accurately catalog and display your site.
Since search engines can’t read, they use an algorithm to determine what the webpage is about. This algorithm looks at several components on the page, which include:
- URL/Domain name
- Site title and description
- Page/post title
- Page/post meta description
- Headings (H1, H2, and H3)
- Bolded and italicized words
- Post or page content
The more your keywords appear in all of these areas, the more clearly your site contains information about that keyword. (Check out the SEO for Bloggers and Other Content Creators Course for more tips on writing content for good SEO.)
When you brand under your name, many of these important components will be taken by your name. This displaces other important keywords that could help you to get in front of people looking for your services, but who don’t know your name.
Note: Your name is the easiest keyword to rank for outside of what your site is about. You do NOT need to waste value real estate in order to accomplish this goal. Just put your name on your About page, make sure your name is credited as the author of the content you write (not “admin”), and create some text links of your name pointing back to your site. That’s all I did and you’ll find this site listed on page 1 of Google for “lesa townsend.”
3. What happens to your business when you can no longer run it?
No matter how much you enjoy what you do, you can’t do it forever. Illness, disability, retirement, death — one of these life events will prompt you to leave your business. What happens to your business — your baby — when you can no longer run it?
If your business is branded solely around you, it is pretty much done when you are. No one else can step into your shoes and become you (Unless you have a comprehensive training program in place long before you leave — like Dale Carnegie).
But if you brand under a business name, you can sell your business to someone else with only a small amount of prior planning. The work that you do in the world then continues without you.
If you are a new entrepreneur or coach, I do NOT recommend branding under your name. It is simply too difficult to get traction.
Too hard to earn search traffic….
Too hard to convey what you do….
Too hard to build name recognition…
Too hard to get the exposure that you need to launch your business.
Instead, name your business something that easily conveys what you do. This type of name might not be cute, but cute doesn’t pay the bills. You want to make it as easy as possible for the right clients to find you… and recognize that they have come to the right place.
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for branding under your name. There is. But only after you have established a reputation and garnered yourself some name recognition. Then, it makes total sense to brand under your name.
Here’s my only blanket advice: If the url or domain name for your name is still available, buy it. You can forward it to whatever other website you use for your business (type in lesatownsend.com and see what I mean). And owning it gives you the option of branding under your name later, if it becomes appropriate to do so for your business.