What’s in a name?
That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
— William Shakespeare
True, but would Google and all of the other web search engines be able to find the rose if multiple names for it were used?
This post marks my 100th entry in this blog, and this year marks my 10th year of my voice-over business. It’s time to make some changes. While I don’t plan to re-invent myself, I have decided to re-focus all of my efforts to create stronger brand identity with my name.
Aside from the 2 milestones I listed and the fact that we just started a new calendar year, other factors have propelled me to make this change. Earlier in the week, I wrote about Bonnie Gillespie’s current column in The Actors Voice: Social Networking and Acting in which she wrote a brilliant analysis of an actor’s effective use of social networking platforms in establishing and maintaining a professional brand. One piece of her advice has been percolating in my mind:
What’s your screen name on these sites? What’s the unique URL to your profile?
Nothing silly or casual, if you’re the smart actor user.
Instead, it’s your professional actor name!
It’s how we would look you up at IMDB or within the Breakdown Services’ system.
It’s how you’re branded.
As I read her words, I recalled the case study of the beer industry presented in the stellar marketing book The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al and Laura Ries. The major players in the beer industry continue to introduce new brands, yet they do not increase their market share. Instead, buyers of the new brands tend to come from customers in the existing brands. In chapter 10, the Law of Extensions, the authors explain:
But people don’t think this way. In their minds, most people try to assign one brand name to each product. And they are not consistent in how they assign such names. They tend to use the name that best captures the essence of the product…..Customers want brands that are narrow in scope and are distinguishable by a single word, the shorter the better…..
While extending the line might bring added sales in the short term, it runs counter to the notion of branding. If you want to build a powerful brand in the minds of consumers, you need to contract your brand, not expand it. In the long term, expanding your brand will diminish your power and weaken your image.
(As an aside, I didn’t provide the page number because I downloaded the book to my new and life-changing Amazon Kindle wireless reader. When you highlight a book, the Kindle saves the highlight in a text file called “My Clippings”, which you can edit on your computer. I copied the quoted passage from the Kindle file.)
For some time, I have had multiple domain names, both on-line and reserved. For years, my main web site was AVOICEAboveTheCrowd.com. In recent times, I changed it to KarenCommins.com. Lately, I had been switching it to KarenVoices.com but continuing to point it at the other domain. The shorter name is easier for people to type and fits better on smaller imprinted products. I also am using KarenBlogs.com for this blog and KarenTalks.com for my podcasts and volunteer voice-over productions. I had been thinking of promoting my specialty of narrations aimed at the information technology industry and had reserved 3 more domains for that purpose.
Whew! I’m tired just writing and looking at that list! As my e-mail signature lines grew longer, I intuitively knew that I was segmenting my search engine rankings by using multiple domains. I didn’t realize that my overall brand would be diminished in the process. I can clearly see that these domains are really line extensions.
Furthermore, if I only use my first name in my domain name, people don’t know which voice talent named Karen to associate with the work. I searched some on-line voice talent casting sites and found a minimum of 30 Karens listed on each site — and that’s just using my spelling of the name.
This is the year that I contract my brand to one name: Karen Commins. With my name as my brand, my on-line presence will be in total harmony with my off-line life. Some changes are easier to make, such as changing my Twitter username and LinkedIn profile. Other things like consolidating my sites under my name will take a bit more time, energy and money paid to my webmaster.
Like I said, it’s time to make some changes. My re-branding efforts will remove the virtual thorns in my side and allow this rose to blossom in the sweetness of a more focused voice-over career.