What’s In A Name?

Plenty. Your identity, your working DNA, your message to the world.

Maybe you want to become a 1-name icon in your specialty—Gaga, Adele, Mariah, Whitney (RIP). Or you want to have your big idea take flight and spread. Fast.

How you say it matters.

Tantalize your audience with something they want that only you can deliver. Make it simple, compelling and authentically you.

Top selling business authors (and their editors) understand this. Their titles lean to the aspirational: “The Four Hour Work Week”, “Good to Great” “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?” and the ageless classic: “How to Win Friends and Influence People”.

That doesn’t mean your name shouldn’t be on the door, especially if your business is personal—consultants, wealth advisors, designers, and of course, lawyers. Just make sure it’s not a tongue-twister. BlessingWhite is excellent. Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca, Fischer, Gilbert-Lurie, Stiffelman, Cook, Johnson, Lande & Wolf was not. Which is probably why they now go by Ziffren Brittenham.

Your name—and your big idea—are assets. Use them wisely.


  • Interesting how there seems to be less men of late with just one name. A single moniker helps. When just your first name shared in a chat, not including you, triggers recall about you in a positive way, it makes a difference for you. No Doubt About It!
    In music, I cannot think of many men where just their first name triggers wide recall. Ringo with the Beatles (but that’s a nickname much as “Dino” for Dean Martin). Donovan. If you follow Buffalo Springfield and its off-spring, maybe you use Richie (Furay), Steve (Stephen Stills) and Neil (Young); more generally we think in terms of surname or full name.
    I certainly concur on branding by your name and getting defined by the work you do in a way that justifies the one name.

  • I know what you mean–there is Bono. And Elton, sort of. It’s actually easier outside of music, but it’s their last name that we remember–Spielberg, Seinfeld, Wolfgang.

    It does help having an unusual name!

  • I definitely agree that the shorter and more memorable your name the better – but it also makes it much more difficult to be unique when doing so, especially as a business because your name often reflects what you do/offer (which may not be completely unique). Any recommendations for instances like this where your name is potentially diluted by other companies with similar or the same name? (Aside from renaming your entire company that is)

  • Hi Keith, Thanks for joining the conversation–great question! If renaming is not a viable option, then I’d work with your tagline and visuals. For example, a great tagline has some emotion to it. It focuses on how your client/customer is better after they have worked with you. A classic is Disney’s “The happiest place on earth”. I use “be unforgettable” and no one cares about my company’s name. The key is not to use what your competitors are using (or a varient). You must dare to be different. And focus it on an outcome your sweet-spot clients care about. Deeply.

    Visuals should extend your emotional message. If you sell based on innovation (having the latest, greatest product/service/technology), then your look should be inventive. And strikingly different from your competitors while still embracing the core values of your brand.

    Make sense? Cheers!

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