Your name is your brand.
We don’t always get to choose our name. Today’s post is about changing your name once you’ve built up a significant online presence and brand. I’m gearing it especially for the married gals!
Now before you gentlemen and single ladies move on, recognize that you can apply this advice to stage names, writing pseudonyms, renaming business brands, or retitling creative projects. The process for married women to update their name online can be applied towards re-branding anything!
Changing your name (or your brand) is obviously a personal and subjective decision. Your name, beyond being your brand, is your identity! As such, start by doing some soul-searching, research and planning. If you’ve been fighting for your name online in the past, a new name can open up new possibilities.
A unique name always makes claiming real estate online a much easier task. (If you have a rather common name, be sure to check out my previous post, 6 Ideas When YourName.com is Taken.) Use NameCheckr.com to see what’s available with your new name.
While it takes some time to update everything, creating a new name (or brand) may serve you better. It can help you be seen with new eyes, become more unique and memorable, as well as develop 100% consistency in your online presence.
If you decide to change your name or brand, here are the five steps to take.
1. Change your legal name
I’ve never been married… so I can’t give you the step-by-step here. However, you’ll be guided through the process as your proceed through your wedding! Congratulations to you and your partner!
2. Change union name, drivers license, passport, etc.
Remember how I said your name is your brand and identity? Make sure you cover the important stuff first—especially with the D.M.V. and U.S. Department of State!
3. Set up your new domain
Your web designer can easily change the name of your website and set up your new domain. The key is to set up forwarding from your old domain. This way, your existing audience will easily find you and discover your update!
4. Set up your new email
You can set up email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Set up email forwarding from your old address(es) to the new account. Once you confirm that’s working, put up an auto-responder or vacation response at your old email account.
In this automated reply, let senders know that their email has been forwarded. Be sure to include your new email address and encourage them to update their address book. I’d suggest giving a deadline to further encourage people to take immediate action. A bit after your deadline, delete the old email account. Your audience will receive an error message. By this time, they should be able to search their email archives for the new address or discover you through Google and social media searches.
5. Update your social media profiles
You can easily edit your name under the account settings of most social networks. The URL (or the address) gets a bit more specific.
Twitter and Instagram are easy. Just change your @handle. To change your Facebook, visit facebook.com/username. Note that if you have a page (versus a profile) you can only change that URL one time. YouTube is the trickiest. Here’s a tutorial on claiming a custom URL. However, note that you can’t change your custom URL after you create it.
On YouTube, you may be best served creating a new channel. If that’s the case, upload a short video announcing your name change on the old channel, and make all of the videos “unlisted” at your old account. If you wish, upload your existing videos on the new channel. Then, Google and YouTube searches will connect users with those same videos at your new channel, and if the old videos are embedded anywhere... they'll still work!
I know the process can seem daunting. However, like last week’s post, the first step is taking action. If your new name (through marriage or creative conception) offers more consistency with your offline life and online presence—I’d suggest you make the switch.
Having a consistent website, email and social media presence makes it much easier for people to find you. Even if you change everything, these steps make it easy for your audience to follow you!
How do feel about a stage name or pseudonym? Comment below!
Tony Howell is a digital strategist dedicated to helping you design your future—creating offline success from your online presence.