Sound dramatic? It isn’t SEO and brand identity is everything in today’s world. Here’s how to make sure you’re making the right decision when it comes to choosing your photography business name.
Should I Use my Name or Create a Unique Company Name?
This depends on your goals long term and there are pros and cons to both.
Pros and Cons for Using Your Personal Name
Example: Ryan Richardson Photography. vs. Life Outside Studio.
Using your personal name immediately makes differentiating your business from other similar businesses much easier. One of the toughest parts of running your own business is creating a brand that separates you from your competition. This is usually done by focusing on a particular niche, and creating a strong brand with very consistent marketing.
The nice thing about using your own name is that you already set yourself apart from the competition because every person is clearly completely unique. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration by building your business around your name. Unless your goal is to grow a photography or a filmmaking business that can grow beyond just you, or operate without you.
Using a unique company name like Life Outside Studio for example would allow you to partner with other creatives. Down the road you might want to contract on additional free-lancers or create an agency. Maybe you you’ll want to host photography workshops around the world but you don’t want to be the one teaching them.
Example of How This Can Go Bad If You’re Not Careful…
There’s a successful landscape photographer who markets photography tours in his name (which I won’t mention here). This photographer markets these photo tours as if he will be the one hosting and teaching them, when in fact he hires local photographers to stand in for him.
Many of these clients feel cheated and disappointed when they fly around the world to be taught by their favourite photographer only to learn they won’t even be meeting him.
This is really similar to “branding” because any company with good branding should have a personality attached to it. Personality is just a lot easier to achieve as a person rather than a “business”. Another way to think of it is by being personal. People prefer to deal with other people than with a “company”.
Think of all the times you’ve tried contacting a service provider and it takes for ever just to speak to a human rather than a machine. That’s kind of what happens when you build up a company instead of building up your own name.
Are You in the B2B Business or the B2C Business?
Who is your client? If they’re another business like you then marketing and operating your company as an established business might be more achievable. You can contract additional help and solve a lot of your client’s problems either by yourself or with a team you commission to assist you.
If your client is direct to consumer, maybe it’s more approachable if you’re a person rather than an “entity”. Example: If you’re hoping to work with athletes directly, they’re likely more keen to engage with you if they see you as a person. Where as if you’re hoping to work directly for the brands and companies that sponsor athletes, you might have better luck building up a company with more services and specializations to offer them.
When you have a company, you’re not your work. You can evolve, you can offer new services and try new things. You can kill different avenues of your business that might not be serving you and or your team anymore. You can launch separate sub sections or divisions of your company to remain specialized in a number of different areas without deluding the perceived value of your brand.
I’ll paint a bit of a picture so that makes sense. If you are Ryan Richardson, shooting for National Geographic one day and working on quarter million dollar productions for commercial clients, how would it look if you saw that same photographer offering $25 LinkedIn headshots on Kijiji the next day? Brand consistency is everything when it comes to your own identity. You can’t mess that up or else you’ll loose trust. Once you lose trust, you might not recover.
The benefit of company name is that you can create divisions that operate under the umbrella of your company but specialize in separate areas. Guitar companies do this, Fender has their budget division, Squire. Phone companies, Telus has Koodo. Goodlife has Fit4Less. It’s all the same company but they create a little distance so they can play to different markets without hurting their stronger image. You don’t have that flexibility any other way.
This comes back to your end game, your goals long term. I wanted to create a company I can put in auto pilot and walk away from for a year, and still thrive. I can grow it, or shrink it, pause it or go full throttle when ever I want. Removing yourself from being front and centre gives you the freedom to pursue other ideas or interests or business pursuits.
That’s why most entrepreneurs intentionally stay behind the scenes. It gives them the freedom to lean into what’s working and pull back when things are going nowhere. If you market your business with your name, you have to be committed and full on, all the time.
There is no right or wrong approach. Actually there is. There’s no wrong approach if you work backwards from your goals and really consider what you want your business to look like in fifteen years. If you look long term and choose what’s best for you based on some of the points and consideration above, you’ll do the right thing.
Remember, whatever you decide. Take a second and celebrate your decision. You’re on your way to working for yourself and you have to take time to celebrate the little wins!