I’d like to discuss a topic that comes up frequently in my conversations with freelancers.
Should you market yourself using your own name or create a business name?
There are Pros and Cons to each option and today I would like to explore each side.
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Using your own name
One option that a lot of freelance designers take is to use their own name as the business name. There are clear benefits to this approach. Some of which include:
Using your own name allows you to appear affordable
Many people choose to hire a freelance designer over a design firm because they know they can get a better price most of the time. If you want to make sure your potential clients don’t get any mixed messaging, just stick with your own name.
Using your own name makes your company transparent and personal
People hate interacting with huge corporations. There’s nothing more annoying than never being able to get a hold of the person you need to when you need to. Using your own name as a business name is a great way to say, “I’m always going to be available for whatever needs you have.”
Using your own name can be memorable
You won’t ever find a client saying “Hey, maybe we should hire whats-his-name from John Smith Design.” If people can remember your business name, they can remember your name and vice-versa.
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It can be easy to find a domain name
Depending on your name, it can be much easier to find a domain name to match. For example, let’s say your name is Frank Appleton. At the time of writing, FrankAppleton.com is available (which you can see using Bluehost’s domain checker below). You could also use FrankWAppleton.com or Fappleton.com or DesignerFrank.com.
To be honest, I secretly hope the real Frank Appleton finds this article by Googling himself and then snatches up the domain. You’re welcome, Frank. 🙂
Using your own name can make you seem inexperienced
Unfortunately, some people associate the small feel using your name can create with inability to perform. The truth of the matter is, anyone can work from home and start a business call “Jane Smith’s Design Company”, for all they know, you’ve only been designing for a few weeks and they are your first real client.
Using your own name can make it TOO personal
Using a business name for your freelance company can create an imaginary barrier between you and your clients. This barrier can prove useful at 2 am when they are pacing in their home office trying to decide whether they should call you about a typo on their web site or not. Maybe you don’t want to seem that approachable to your clients.
Using your own name can create confusion in the future
If you plan to grow your business to include other employees, using your own name could get confusing. Not to say it hasn’t been done effectively before (take Ogilvy, Sam’s Club, Smith’s, or Johnson & Johnson to name a few).
Using a business name
Using a business name enables you to charge more
A business name makes you sound more experienced and more dedicated to the design work you do. Because of that, it’s possible clients are willing to pay higher rates than if you give off a one-man show aura.
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Using a business name can make you more marketable
It’s a lot easier to separate your personal life (especially online) from your professional life when you have a unique business name. After all, you probably don’t want your future clients to have access to your latest family vacation photos when are looking for information about your business.
Using a business name can make you seem experienced
Using a business name makes you seem well-established and experienced (only if you choose a good name. See here) so people could be more likely to hire and trust you.
Using a business name allows for growth
If you plan to hire employees one day, choosing a name that can grow along with your business is the right solution for you.
Using a business can make it impersonal
Just like using your personal name as a business name can make your designer-client relationship too personal, using a business name can make it too impersonal. Most people want to know they have someone (a real person) they can rely on to answer their questions and resolve their concerns. If you decide to choose a unique business name, make sure your marketing materials boast available and personal attention.
Using a business name could make you appear more expensive
If potential clients feel like they are going to have to pay for design time plus expensive overhead costs your fancy-pants business incurs, they are going to be less likely to hire you.
Using a business can be less memorable
In addition to remembering the name of their designer (you, of course), your clients will have to remember the name of your company whenever they receive invoices from you, write you a check, or recommend you to other potential clients. It could be worth it to have them remember just one name: yours.
Using a business name can be a trademark headache
As soon as you decide to use a business name for your freelance business, you enter the world of potential trademark infringement. If you do choose the business name route, be sure to consult someone like LegalZoom in order to register your business or trademark your name.
You can invent a random word no one’s heard before which makes finding a domain easier.
Which do you use? A business name or your own personal name?
I’m curious to learn what the tendency of Millo readers is. Do you use your own name to market your design business or have you come up with a business name? If it’s the latter, tell us what business name you chose and why. Ok, go ahead. Share away.
And once you land on the perfect business name, be sure to check it’s availability here.
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