134 Replies
Ashley Chiasson

Like Tim, I went along with my personal brand. This was also easiest for the purposes of my business. I do foresee that if things ramp up again (it's slowed down a bit, maintaining no more than 2 contracts at a time, due to my FT commitments), having to make a name change - in which case I'll likely refer back to this thread :P

David Glow

If Gamergate taught us one thing: protecting one's identity can be a true concern for many in this industry.

I have no problem with a Pseudonym. Pitbull, Bruno Mars, Prince... many use them.  I suspect the contracts are negotiated with a company, and an authorized officer of the company signs.

This is a smart practice.  I sign most my contracts as a company. If there was ever an issue, they can sue the company. As an individual, I am more protected this way.

Tim Slade

Great question on the logo. Because I decided to go with my own name, I struggled making a decision on a logo. Although I don't have this on my official website (I used to), I will use the below logo in my contracts, proposals and invoices.

Although I like the simple nature of this logo, I don't use this logo at all for social media purposes, as my strategy has been geared towards name/face recognition. 

Trina Rimmer

Thanks for the tag, David. Great ideas and questions in this thread!

When I started delving into social media - circa 2005 - I knew I wanted my business brand to be separate from my personal one. This means I now have two of everything: two Twitter accounts, two about.me pages, and a Facebook page for my company where I post business-oriented musings, links, articles, etc that I don't necessarily share on my personal timeline. Admittedly, I only have one LinkedIn profile...because that's already more LinkedIn than I can handle!

While I have an eye for visual design and some basic graphic design skills, I knew I wanted a logo that was more sophisticated than what I could do. I got my logo through a designer I worked with on 99Designs. I basically mocked up what I wanted in PPT and posted it as a "design contest" so designers could compete for my business. The process was easy. The designer I worked with was great and I've since hired her to do some other small projects. The price was affordable for my small biz budget, too.  

More importantly, I found working with a logo designer who had some expertise with business branding, really gave me permission to embrace that brand in everything I do for my company. Once you've invested in branding, you feel compelled to get your act together and use it. This means I've now created some presentation templates that are themed with my brand (and which save me tons of time). I've pulled together my own letterhead with my branding and even my client contracts are styled "on brand." I've designed my business cards to be more like a calling card to invite conversation - but to tie into my brand. All of these things gives me the personal/professional separation I was looking for AND helps me look more polished to my clients. 

Another ELH, Kevin Thorn, has some GREAT ideas around brand building. I'll tag him, too!

Kevin Thorn

This is the story of how a company logo and a personal brand started out as a fear of social media.

The NuggetHead (avatar) was a simple creation one afternoon as I feared associating my actual photo when I first joined Twitter. Yet, the name "NuggetHead" wasn't thought of back then as the Twitter name I chose at the time and currently is: LearnNuggets. 

@LearnNuggets and the LearnNuggets blog is where I started with no initial intention of ever starting an actual company. I simply have a passion for this industry and wanted to be more involved than the [then] cubicle farm offered. Over the next year or so I met a lot of people (many of you) through Twitter.

I believe it was 2010 when I was attending Elearning Guild's Learning Solutions conference that it donned on me that no one knows what I actually look like because I've used the same Twitter avatar for over a year. To aide in helping me find and meet face-to-face all the new friends I made online, I had a couple shirts made with my Twitter avatar embroidered on the front. Then took a photo of me wearing the shirt and tweeted, "If you see me, come introduce yourself." It worked. It worked so well that the Twitter community gave my avatar it's own name - The NuggetHead.

I started freelancing as an "official" business in 2011 with the simple goal to get paid for expressing creative freedom where my old corporate job was restricting. Again, no intention of ever starting a full time company. By the end of 2011 (Dec) I was spending equal if not more hours part time at night and on weekends than I was during my full time job. It became clear to me I had one of three choices: 1) Quit freelancing and refocus my energies to a corporate career, 2) Scale back freelancing to a more manageable level, or 3) Kick it up a notch and see what happens.

Three months into 2012 an opportunity presented itself that simply drew a line in the sand.  I crossed the line, quit my job in April 2012 and haven't looked back since.

Never really gave it much thought as the company name other than honoring the roots of where it all started. Thus, NuggetHead Studioz was officially formed and the "NuggetHead" is now an officially registered trademark.

I get a few raised eye brows occasionally as some think the name sounds silly or not professional. Which has led me to believe the true nature behind the name, "NuggetHead" refers to not taking ourselves too seriously. We ALL have nuggethead moments whether in business or personally and we're all in this together trying to make things better. The plural nature of "Studioz" refers to my company's three studios in 1) Elearning design & development, 2) illustration, graphics, comics and cartooning, and 3) training Storyline or training on improving your visual language and visual communication skills.

In the end I owe my company's branding success to the Twitter community and @David Anderson for posing a dare to me the summer of 2010.

David Anderson
Kevin Thorn

In the end I owe my company's branding success to the Twitter community and @David Anderson for posing a dare to me the summer of 2010.

I still remember that conversation. Great example of how a single effort can lead to a lifetime of  new opportunities.  

What I like about your story, Kevin, is that you didn't acquire new skills to become the celebrity NuggetHead we know today. Instead, you made a change that involved applying your skills in a different way. The rest, as they say, is history.

Jeff Kortenbosch

I agree with Jackie and Tim on being 'your own brand' however my whole life people asked me when I told them my last name is  'Kortenbosch' if I was sure... don't you mean Vorstenbosch or Kortenbach... #$%^! no, I know my own name thank you very much!! So apparently it's to difficult for people in the Netherlands.Also I don't feel it's going places internationally. Go ahead; say it 15 times really fast. Does your tongue hurt?

I'd used my name in a previous business (Kortenbosch Internet Productions) back in the day and when I started my 'new' company next to my day job I did not feel the need to go that route again. 

I did struggle for a long time, everything I came up with seemed to exist already and at some point I was considering totally meaningless names. Until I was driving home from work two years ago, milling all kinds of names and dismissing them asI heard a commercial on the radio.

In the Netherlands, the week before Christmas The Red Cross and one of our national radio stations have this event where they collect money for a forgotten disaster/cause. 3 DJ's get locked into a glass house and do not eat for a week, they do non-stop radio and people donate money by requesting songs paying whatever they want. Over the years this has become a massive event and it brings in millions of euros for the charity. I look forward to it every year and donate and have the TV on 24/7. It's called 'Serious Request' and its awesome!

And then it hit me. After thinking up a gazilion lame names ...something eLearning bla bla ... Serious Request.... Serious Learning. and lo and behold the url wasn't taken yet!

I guess the rest is history. Like Kevin, I created a shirt with a logo and 10 days later I was presenting on t the first ever Dutch Articulate User Day in the Netherlands sharing my 'brand' with the Dutch elearning community.

I'm super proud of my company name, my logo and I am the face and personality behind it all. Just wish I had the courage to go 'all in!'

Kevin Thorn
David Anderson
Kevin Thorn

In the end I owe my company's branding success to the Twitter community and @David Anderson for posing a dare to me the summer of 2010.

I still remember that conversation. Great example of how a single effort can lead to a lifetime of  new opportunities.  

What I like about your story, Kevin, is that you didn't acquire new skills to become the celebrity NuggetHead we know today. Instead, you made a change that involved applying your skills in a different way. The rest, as they say, is history.

And it was quite an effort! I recall my wife calling you toward the end of that project wanting to hear the voice behind the person who "stole my husband" that summer. :)

Kevin Thorn
Trina Rimmer

Thanks for the tag, David. Great ideas and questions in this thread!

When I started delving into social media - circa 2005 - I knew I wanted my business brand to be separate from my personal one. This means I now have two of everything: two Twitter accounts, two about.me pages, and a Facebook page for my company where I post business-oriented musings, links, articles, etc that I don't necessarily share on my personal timeline. Admittedly, I only have one LinkedIn profile...because that's already more LinkedIn than I can handle!

While I have an eye for visual design and some basic graphic design skills, I knew I wanted a logo that was more sophisticated than what I could do. I got my logo through a designer I worked with on 99Designs. I basically mocked up what I wanted in PPT and posted it as a "design contest" so designers could compete for my business. The process was easy. The designer I worked with was great and I've since hired her to do some other small projects. The price was affordable for my small biz budget, too.  

More importantly, I found working with a logo designer who had some expertise with business branding, really gave me permission to embrace that brand in everything I do for my company. Once you've invested in branding, you feel compelled to get your act together and use it. This means I've now created some presentation templates that are themed with my brand (and which save me tons of time). I've pulled together my own letterhead with my branding and even my client contracts are styled "on brand." I've designed my business cards to be more like a calling card to invite conversation - but to tie into my brand. All of these things gives me the personal/professional separation I was looking for AND helps me look more polished to my clients. 

Another ELH, Kevin Thorn, has some GREAT ideas around brand building. I'll tag him, too!

Like David said, it speaks volumes to who you are as a designer to seek professional assistance when it came to logo design. There's more science behind the art of creating a brand that speaks to who you, your company, and what you want the world to see you as. 

Kevin Thorn
Jeff Kortenbosch

I agree with Jackie and Tim on being 'your own brand' however my whole life people asked me when I told them my last name is  'Kortenbosch' if I was sure... don't you mean Vorstenbosch or Kortenbach... #$%^! no, I know my own name thank you very much!! So apparently it's to difficult for people in the Netherlands.Also I don't feel it's going places internationally. Go ahead; say it 15 times really fast. Does your tongue hurt?

I'd used my name in a previous business (Kortenbosch Internet Productions) back in the day and when I started my 'new' company next to my day job I did not feel the need to go that route again. 

I did struggle for a long time, everything I came up with seemed to exist already and at some point I was considering totally meaningless names. Until I was driving home from work two years ago, milling all kinds of names and dismissing them asI heard a commercial on the radio.

In the Netherlands, the week before Christmas The Red Cross and one of our national radio stations have this event where they collect money for a forgotten disaster/cause. 3 DJ's get locked into a glass house and do not eat for a week, they do non-stop radio and people donate money by requesting songs paying whatever they want. Over the years this has become a massive event and it brings in millions of euros for the charity. I look forward to it every year and donate and have the TV on 24/7. It's called 'Serious Request' and its awesome!

And then it hit me. After thinking up a gazilion lame names ...something eLearning bla bla ... Serious Request.... Serious Learning. and lo and behold the url wasn't taken yet!

I guess the rest is history. Like Kevin, I created a shirt with a logo and 10 days later I was presenting on t the first ever Dutch Articulate User Day in the Netherlands sharing my 'brand' with the Dutch elearning community.

I'm super proud of my company name, my logo and I am the face and personality behind it all. Just wish I had the courage to go 'all in!'

Your story is a great example of trying too hard to look for a "name" in one direction when out of nowhere an epiphany presents you with the obvious from another direction. Love this story!

As for courage, or there lack of, I can relate. Look deep into what keeps you from going "all in." Others told me at the time that what I was hanging onto was false and I didn't agree. Looking back, they were 100% correct. 

You'll find your courage in the same place you found your company name - in a place you're not looking at right now.

Trina Rimmer

Love this thread!

in response to the original question, I decided to go with a somewhat generic name "Rimmer Creative Group" even though I was A) Not a group, and B) Not fond of calling myself "creative." But I like the fact that this name means a lot to me (I love my family!) reflects my preference for creative work and that it leaves open the possibility of future growth. The word "group" also implied collaboration - which is a big part of who I am and what I want my business to be. I am, probably, one of the least skilled deal-maker/negotiators I know, but I'm candid, solutions-focused, collaborative, and creative and I think that comes across. 

Trina Rimmer

Tim - I think a business name does help with certain clients. But the ones I've enjoyed working with the most, haven't cared one way or the other. At the end of the day, a distinctive, professional business brand can help you get your foot in the door and can make your services an easier sell to the business people in your client's organization. More importantly, I think it can give you the confidence to present yourself as a legitimate business professional and not just a scrappy freelancer.

Matthew Bibby
David Anderson
Matthew Bibby
Question:  Do you have a personal logo to assist in your branding?

Now that's a good question, Matthew. I've seen a few users who invested in a personal logo. For example,  Trina Rimmer worked with a logo designer http://trinarimmer.com/

I'll see if I can get her to chime in.

Thanks David, Trina has a great site and it is interesting how she has kept her name (in the form of the url) while establishing a separate business group.

Matthew Bibby
Tim Slade

Great question on the logo. Because I decided to go with my own name, I struggled making a decision on a logo. Although I don't have this on my official website (I used to), I will use the below logo in my contracts, proposals and invoices.

Although I like the simple nature of this logo, I don't use this logo at all for social media purposes, as my strategy has been geared towards name/face recognition. 

Like you, I spent a lot of time considering whether or not I needed a logo, and in the end decided that it was worthwhile. I got the original design done via 99designs, but wasn't happy with the finished product.

Unfortunately the original designer wasn't interested in reworking it (which is what you get with many of these 'competition' sites), so I ended up hiring a great logo designer to create the final version:

Matthew Bibby eLearning Consultant

I currently use this on contracts/proposals and invoices and am also using it as my avatar in some places. Eventually I'll get around to having a photo taken of myself that I like and use that as an avatar as I think it is more personal (and appropriate) than using a logo.

Holly MacDonald

I should probably read through the whole thread before responding, but oh well. I haven't.

I picked a business name because:

1. I wanted to be able to establish a company that I could sell if I wanted to. I wanted it 

2. I wanted the name to embody what it was like to work with me and anyone that I have along for the ride.

3. I wanted to separate the person from the work, it's actually easier for me this way to think of the business as a separate entity, not an extension of me. 

How I came up with it? I actually called my friend who owns a branding/design firm and asked for help. They helped me narrow down options, design logo and websites. I liked Spark + Co from the beginning, as it gave me license to do things beyond e-learning, because I want to help with learning strategies and I do more than e-learning. AND, it felt right at the time. 

Going back and reading the rest of the thread now. Good convo.

Hope that helps,

Holly