It’s how I introduced myself the first year I attended Allume. But no one recognized my name.
Until they saw my blog address scrawled on my nametag.
“Oh, you’re the little pink house!”
Well, actually, I am not the little pink house. That’s what I called my blog, because that was the color of our house when we got married.
But I smiled and said yes. In the sea of vaguely familiar faces, I was just glad to find someone who knew me–even if it wasn’t by name.
It didn’t take long before my Allume roomie Trina Holden started trying to convince me to rebrand as myself. And, despite several objections I had to the idea of rebranding, I began to consider the idea.
If you’ve wondered whether personal branding is right for you, perhaps you’ve asked these same questions, too.
Why would I use my name?
When I began to consider embracing my personal identity online, the verses about how Jesus calls His sheep by name kept echoing through my head. As I thought about the importance God placed on names throughout Scripture, I realized the significance of embracing my name as my brand. If names are that important to God, then wouldn’t He be glorified by my use of the name He impressed upon my parents’ hearts as my own?
“My name is not only known to Him—it is precious to Him. He is not only acquainted with but passionately interested in the details that make up my life. Nothing is too unpleasant a task for His ministering hand. He cares for me every bit as tenderly as I do my flock of seven [sheep]—every bit and a universe’s worth of more. And when I follow Him, my joy is second only to His.”
-Lanier Ivester in “He Calls Them By Name” on Kindred Grace
Our names are important to God.
With God we’re not a number, we’re a name He chose before we were born. In Biblical times, some parents were able to name their child without the help of today’s gender-revealing sonogram because God told them what they were having and what the child’s name would be (think Isaac, Solomon, John, and Jesus). Branding with my own name was simply an acknowledgement of His creation of me as a unique individual. (Click to Tweet that.)
“I chose personal branding because God’ vision for my words and my life is constantly evolving – by not choosing a ‘niche’ specific name, I have the freedom to grow my brand in any direction without starting fresh every time. Also, it has helped people identify me with my writing and my passions when we meet in real life – they put a literal ‘face’ to my online ‘name.'”
Is using my name prideful?
It felt strange, almost prideful, to think about using my own name for my blog domain. And yet, I wondered if it was even more pretentious to bestow a “brand” upon my blog. Anything I could think of either lacked originality or would be as outdated as my “little pink house” within five years. Branding as myself was the simple answer. I sign my name on every email I write. I put my name in the return address of every letter I mail. Why should my blog be any different?
“When I started blogging in 2003, it seemed an obvious choice to connect my online presence with my name, like people would be meeting me online. I never thought of it as ‘branding’ nor did I think I was pointing a big finger at me rather than God. I felt that the online me was pretty similar to the real-life me, and that felt genuine. Sometimes I write blatantly about God just like I sometimes talk blatantly about God, and sometimes I talk and write about iron skillets. That’s Ann Kroeker, online or off.”
God’s Writers Have Used Personal Branding for Centuries
Biblical authors like Paul needed no explanation or certification except, “I, Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ.” There was nothing trendy about Paul: his tagline was the same as all the others. He was honest, straightforward, and humble. Paul’s name was what set him apart from the other apostles. And two thousand years later, we still know their books by their names. It’s not pride to let your work be associated with your name, it’s simply practical. (Click to Tweet that!)
“I am growing in my understanding of God’s vision for my life. Following Him is a day-by-day, walk by faith and that is as true in my personal life and family as it is in my ministry in this online space. In addition to a writing ministry, God has opened doors for speaking and teaching. Using a name specific domain erases some of the limits I tend to put on myself and allows me to follow whichever direction God leads.”
Is now the time to rebrand using my name?
It was overwhelming to think about the rebranding process, but I knew it was time–and that it was easier to do it sooner than later. My first blogging conference signified a new season in both my blogging and my business, and my rebranding represented that change. Why shouldn’t my blog become a true extension of myself in name as well as in content?
“From a business perspective, it makes sense for the name on my book cover to match the name on my blog. For me, the move to personal branding was one way to be a good steward of my word-ministry. For years, my name was attached, as a byline, to news stories in many metro newspapers. Now, it’s attached to the Good News.”
-Jennifer Dukes Lee
God often changed people’s names to signify a new season or calling.
In the Bible, God changed people’s names to signify a change in direction, a new phase in their walk with Him. Sarai became Sarah at God’s command, her new name representing the coming fruit of her womb. Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi changed her name to Mara to signify a season of mourning. Jacob became Israel when God revealed that He would be the father of a nation God would call His own. Changing my blog domain to my own name became a memorial stone on my blogging journey.
“Rebranding can actually be a very natural part of taking the next step in what He’s called you to online. And, if done correctly it can actually strengthen your presence and impact online. Introducing yourself by name brings an authenticity to your online presence, and authenticity is a hot commodity.” (Click to Tweet that.)
“I wanted the freedom to just by myself online, whether interacting with clients or connecting with readers. Now that I’ve rebranded I don’t have to fit my posts to my blog’s brand or theme–my blog is a representation of me and everything I’m interested in, an extension of myself in name as well as content.”
“We are here to build relationship. We need to introduce ourselves the same way we do in real life—by announcing our name. I know this can sound a bit egotistical, but really, it’s not. You’re simply removing barriers and making it easy for people to find you and talk to you. It’s a favor to your friends and anyone you meet online to be consistent in your online identities. Having a solid brand is as simple as just being yourself wherever you go.” (from “The Best Personal Branding Advice I Ever Got Or Gave“)
“As a blogger, I struggled to find my niche. Although I loved my blog’s name, I sometimes felt trapped by it, as though I could only blog about natural living and natural parenting. Those are both very much a part of who I am, but just a part. When I chose to rebrand using my name I finally felt the freedom to blog from the season of life I found myself in, rather than trying to keep up with a specific theme or genre.”
Beginning Branding Tips
- Choosing a domain name is a long-term decision. Use something you’ll still want to be known by in five or ten years. (If you’re single and hoping to be married, this may mean using your middle name rather than a last name.)
- It’s a lot of work to change your domain name, but it’s easy to change the name or tagline on your website. Just because your blog address is yourname.com doesn’t mean you can’t use a different title or tagline for your blog!
- There is no one size fits all branding advice. But it’s easier to start with your name than change to it later. As Trina says, “using your name will help you when and if the Lord calls you to opportunities beyond your blog.” (Click to Tweet that.)
- Click here for more personal branding tips and resources.
“As an author, I have plans for many series and many books. I want my brand to extend past one book or one series and encompass anything I might write. It seemed easier to use my name as a umbrella to cover anywhere my imagination may take me!”
-Vicki V. Lucas
I rebranded in 2012 as Gretchen Louise, choosing just my first and middle names because it took Trina two years to learn how to spell my last name, let alone pronounce it. I changed my blog domain and redirected my old domain to my new one, changed my social media usernames (creating new accounts as necessary), and set up a new email address. It was a long process, but it was worth it to feel like I could truly be myself on my blog. And because I used my name this time, I don’t have to worry about rebranding again!
I’ve come to wholeheartedly embrace personal branding, and encourage my clients and anyone looking to solidify their brand to consider the practical simplicity of going by their God-given name. (Click to Tweet that.)
How about you–have you embraced personal branding?
I’d love to hear why!
Graphics and editorial input by Trina Holden.