Should You Use Your Personal Name to Build Your Brand?

Sunny Trochaniak

There’s never been a better time to build a personal brand.

The internet has opened up a whole new world of opportunity for those who are willing to put themselves out there and grab it.

Whether you like to sell things, draw things, come up with funny skits, or make yourself look pretty.

Opportunity is open to everyone.

And is ready to knock on your door if you just build the house.

(Like a blog, a Youtube channel, an Instagram account, a Facebook profile, or whatever else).

But building your personal brand can be a delicate process.

Since it’s essentially a direct extension of you, you’re naturally going to be sensitive to how the brand is perceived.

It’s also not something that can easily be changed overnight, so it makes sense to put some extra care into how its crafted.

In this article, we’re going to cover the first step in the process – choosing the right name.

Should you use your own name, or make one up?

This is the age-old debate.

While I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all answer, I do think there is a preferred option based on the scenario.

I actually initially started blogging under sunnytrochaniak.com, but have since moved most of my personal branding efforts over to Can’t Wait Till Monday.

For me, whether you should use your personal name or create a different name for your brand comes down to this:

What is the intent behind building your brand?

Let’s look at a few scenarios.

Opening the Door to New (Random) Opportunities

Sometimes there is no intent.

You just want to put stuff out there to see what might come your way.

In this case, it makes sense to use your personal name.

This keeps things ultra-flexible.

You can talk about whatever you want to talk about, and try out a thousand different directions.

There are no expectations, and no restrictions.

Your personal name serves as the default name for your platform, and you can build it up to be whatever you want it to be.

Building a Brand That’s Greater than Yourself

You might have an idea for a ‘forever brand’… a brand that you know represents your ethos or your life’s work.

A brand whose primary motivation is to create impact and legacy – and isn’t necessarily all about you.

You might want to allow it to room to expand, where others can contribute to one collective voice.

In this case, using a brand name works better.

It allows you the flexibility to build something greater than yourself, and have others participate in your mission.

For example, I know a component of my life’s work is/will be to help others “can’t wait till Monday” (whatever form that ends up taking).

While I could’ve continued creating content under my own name, I knew it’d be much easier to scale impact down the road if I opened it up for others to contribute.

It would be weird for others to blog under sunnytrochaniak.com.

It wouldn’t be weird for others to contribute to CWTM.

Nothing has really changed for me operationally up until this point, but using the Can’t Wait Till Monday brand puts a name to my mission and allows the growth flexibility for when I need it.

Generating Passive Income

Let’s first clarify: by passive income, I am referring to income that can be generated without a direct transaction of time.

This does not mean that there is no input of time… just that the brunt of it just gets completed up-front.

If you’re looking to build your personal brand specifically to create a stream of passive income – via courses, books, digital products, physical products etc. – choosing a name depends on what kind of business you’re trying to build.

If you’re building a business around a very specific niche or passion of yours, and are only putting out content related to that niche, then it does make sense to use a brand name.

This way your audience will always know what to expect from you, and you can go deeper with your audience.

On the other hand, if you’re building a business around a more broad range of interests, and think those topics might evolve in the long-term, then it makes sense to use your personal name.

Again, it just comes down to the added flexibility of using your own name.

It will take longer for someone to figure out what you’re all about, but you’re not limited to one niche.

Many creators flip back and forth between which route they should take.

The branded name is easier to monetize in the short-term, but the personal name is more future-proofed.

It really just comes down to what your long-term goals for the brand are.

It’s also possible to combine the two, which I’ll talk about a little later on in this article.

Landing A New Job

A personal brand is a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your field…

And employers take notice.

If you’re looking to use your brand to attract higher profile, higher paying jobs, then using your personal name is definitely the way to go.

Your intent is not to build a business, but rather make your name more recognizable, and make it super clear that you are responsible for all the great content you put out.

Landing More Clients

This is similar to landing a new job, but instead of attracting new employers, you’re looking to use your personal brand to attract new clients.

Whether you should use your personal name or a brand name depends on how large you intend your agency or service to be.

If you don’t already have a business, then it makes sense to start off using your personal name.

If you have a business, but are mostly a one-man/one-woman show, then I think it still makes sense to put out content using your personal name.

If you are growing a larger business and don’t intend to be personally involved with most client work, then use your agency name – as you are no longer building a personal brand at this point.

In general, since landing clients heavily relies on building relationships, using your personal name often works well.

Potential clients are more likely to like, trust, and respect you as an actual human, as opposed to faceless brand.

Especially if your ‘agency’ is mostly just you anyways.

The Two Don’t Have To Be Mutually Exclusive

Lately we’ve seen influencers create a bit of a mish-mash with their brand names.

For example, Lewis Howes uses his name for his website, Instagram, and Youtube channels, but The School of Greatness for his podcast and certain branding elements.

Pat Flynn has the Smart Passive Income blog and the Smart Passive Income podcast, but an Ask Pat podcast, and Pat Flynn Instagram/Youtube channels.

In these cases, it looks as though they are using a brand name as the entry point for attracting new people into their audience.

They are then making it clear that they are the creators of those brands by mentioning their name often, or titling them “The School of Greatness Podcast by Lewis Howes.”

Lastly, they use their personal name for their social accounts, allowing them to put more of their personal life on display.

This is an interesting use of brand names, and one that I think makes a lot of sense, as it can combine the best of both worlds.

It allows you to put a name to your mission, but also build your personal brand in parallel.

P.S. This is the model I am going to test out moving forward. Use Can’t Wait Till Monday as the name of the website, podcast, Facebook group etc, but my personal name as the primary social accounts.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully this article has helped push you towards finally choosing an official name for your personal brand.

Give it a day or two to think about, but don’t extend it much longer.

If it’s something you’ve been stuck for a while, it’s best to just choose something and move forward.

Worst case, you can always transition it to something new later on.

The key is to just get started.

Thanks for reading!

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