Why I Decided To Use My Own Name for My Brand

When I first started my Etsy shop a few years ago, I definitely had a hard time deciding what to call it.  I am an over thinker sometimes and I am very future oriented, so choosing a name felt very serious for me.  At the time I wasn't sure if I wanted to start my shop just as a hobby or whether I wanted to eventually start my own business.  I didn't know if I wanted to keep my work just on Etsy or if I would want to expand to something bigger in the future.  I didn't know if I wanted to focus on illustrated goods (I have my B.A. in Studio Art with an emphasis in Illustration) or if I wanted to sew things for my shop, or make jewelry or what.  The problem is that I like making lots of things so choosing a name for a shop that felt so open ended kind of stressed me out.

While I was dreaming of starting an Etsy shop in 2009, I was WAY more into vintage, whimsical and kitschy stuff than I am now.  By 2010 I was SO over kitschy things, so over trying to dress "cute" when I've always looked more grown up because of my tall stature, and really over wearing colorful vintage dresses with colorful tights and vintage hats.  Something I've always known about myself is that I love change so I can bet that what I am into right now will most likely morph into something very different in a few years.  And because I know I like change, I really don't like labeling myself in the present.  That of course leads to my point:  I had an impossible time coming up with a name for my shop.  In 2009 I might have named my shop something cutsey while now if i was choosing a new name it might be something more edgy.

Thankfully, I've already been through this process of choosing a name.  Did you know I chose my own name when I was 9?  Yep, I picked the name Moorea when my parents were deciding upon a name for my youngest sister.  I remember the moment my dad said, "Ashley, we are thinking of naming your little sister Isabella Moorea."  And in that second I knew, THAT is my name.  Though I was a very very shy little girl having just moved to the U.S. from England the year before and totally freaked out by American culture, I managed to get everyone at my new school to start calling me Moorea, well everyone except my P.E. teacher who called me Ash all through middle school and junior high, oof.  Thankfully, I had a very sweet teacher in 4th grade, think Ms Honey from Mathilda, and she was kind enough to let me be myself, taking on a new name and finally finding solidity in who I am and was.  I never even once regretted changing my name.  Ashley never felt like me and I honestly can't remember how it feels to be called Ashley.  My youngest sister who is 17 has only known me as Moorea and everyone in my family calls my old name the A Word.

When I finally just decided to use my name for my brand, it all made sense.  When I gave myself the name Moorea at age 9, I finally felt free to be exactly myself, interested in many things, a free spirit, shy but intense, strong but gentle, cautious but inquisitive.  The name Ashley made me feel trapped in everyone elses' idea of what an Ashley is, remember The Ashleys in the cartoon Recess?  Remember the character Spinelli whose real name was actually Ashley but she chose to go by another name because she felt too boxed in by Ashley?  That was me.  I needed freedom from one name to find freedom IN another.  I've only met one other Moorea and I've never met anyone with my last name Seal so really it just made sense for me to use my own name for my brand if only because it is really unique.

But beyond the fact that my name is unique, I wanted to use it for my brand because my name feels so much more powerful to me than just being a name.  It doesn't feel like a label like Ashley did.  My name gives me freedom to use it to brand anything that I do or anything I make.  I can be a graphic designer and use my name for my brand and I can make jewelry and use my name for my brand and it is all connected.  My name isn't a trend, it is strange enough that it doesn't have any pre-existing associations with design or style, it is a set of words that allows me to morph over time and expand whatever products I make under that title.  It's my name and it feels personal and I want to always maintain that personal connection to what I create.  I want to always be proud of my work and if I'm sticking my own name on it, I better like it.  I can't just slap a trendy name on a product and then scrap that name and product once I move onto a new style.  Moorea is my name and my brand, it's all truly and honestly me and I'm committed to my name and my evolving expression of self.

1.  Is the brand name associated with a current trend, and will that box you in if you ever want to change up your style?
2.  Is the name your thinking of using already trademarked?  
3.  Does someone else already have a website for the name you want to use for your brand?  Look it up!
4.  Research brand names that are very very similar to yours.  Would those be bad sites for your customers to stumble upon accidentally?  (For example, I've looked for a shoe company before and accidentally stumbled upon a porn site with a really similar name.  Yikes!  That's pretty bad.)
5.  What sort of feeling does your brand name evoke?  Is that a vibe that feels deeply true to you?
6.  Would it benefit you to use your real name vs a made up name for your brand?  (If you are a graphic designer or anyone focusing more on having a portfolio rather than a shop, I highly recommend sticking with your real name rather than a quirky made up brand name.)
7.  Does your brand name give your brand room to grow and expand?  (For example, at first I named shop Moorea Seal Illustration.  But soon after I realized I needed to just call my shop Moorea Seal so I could have the freedom to make whatever products I wanted.  I now use Moorea Seal & Moorea Seal Jewelry and if I make anything else specific like shoes, I can just call them Moorea Seal Shoes.)
8.  Are you interested in using your brand name for everything you create like I do, or do you want to create different names for separate shops like Laura does for her shops Roots & FeathersViolet Bella, and Skyline Fever?  If you are interested in creating separate shops for different types and styles of products, this is a great way to use different brand names to allow freedom to expand.  I instead have the arch of Moorea Seal with different styles and types of products and services underneath that brand name.
For those of you who do have your own brands, how did you choose your brand name?  
I'd love to hear your stories!


eef said...

Love this post! How cool to choose your own name! Did you legally change it?

I, unfortunately, have a rather common name (Erin Flynn) and while I like it, a google search will bring you a lot of results that aren't me. I finally decided to put everything under my initials (which is how I sign my art) and am in the process of re-branding everything with EEF in it. It's not the most original name ever, but it feels like me. =]

Carissa said...

When I first started making jewelry I was also into more of a kitsch look using plastic trinkets to make my pieces. I went under the name High Voltage which a quick google search reveals is the name of tattoo shops and electricians. That was fine for a few years but I got older and I wanted to make something different. As my designs changed I wanted a new name to go with my new style. I spent a few days brainstorming ideas and let them roll around until I came up with the perfect new name. I wanted it to be something that didn't exist in google- so that googling the name would reveal my store, blog, facebook page, etc as the top results. Luxe Debris is the name I came up with and I still like it a few years later. Sort of like deluxe debris since I love using vintage chain/findings while making something that is deluxe but wearable everyday.

Your tips are super helpful & definitely things I thought about when choosing Luxe Debris. Thanks for sharing!

Anzouya said...

You've chosen your name?! That's so amazing and it surely fits you perfectly! :-)
Well, I know what you mean when you say "The problem is that I like making lots of things so choosing a name for a shop that felt so open ended kind of stressed me out".

In the beginning I didn't really know what I wanted to do (I still don't) but I want to keep my options open to whatever comes along, so after a lot of thought I decided to use something that has been kind-of-my name all along.

My name is Angeliki, they call me Angela but a good friend of mine has given me a nickname, ANZOUYA! As a word in Greek you can confuse it with "anchovy" because it has almost the same pronunciation "anchouyia". :-) My zodiac sign is Pisces, so I wouldn't blame them. So there you have it! A name that represents me perfectly, has a connection with my name and my personality (aka my zodiac sign), but it's still a nickname, or a brand name if you want. As you said, my brand can be whatever I want. Anzouya Handmade Bags, Anzouya Cupcakes or even Anzouya Uniforms for Astronauts and still feel like me! ;-)

Congratulations on this post! :-)

Alice, Pretty Confused said...

I'm not a business owner, but I definitely could have used this post when I was coming up with my blog name. I really wanted something that wouldn't pigeon hole me into a certain type of blogger, because although I mainly post about personal style, I wanted to be able to switch stuff around as my interests changed. I love the fact you chose your own name, when I was younger and blonder I hated being called Alice, but at the same time I couldn't really imagine being anything else xo

Jackie said...

Great post! I feel silly asking this, but...how exactly do you pronounce it??

Moorea Seal said...

No worries! Most people don't know how to pronounce it. I should do a video post about it :)
It's pronounced: More-A-yuh

xo Moorea

Noor said...

I also wanted to change my name at a young age and I wanted the name to be Ocean lol I still like that name and even at a young age like you I felt my name was not me AT ALL. I did legally change my name to the one I have now Noor several years ago. Like you I can not imagine being called my old name the 'B' word as you say.

I agree 100% about branding you were so smart to start out this way. When i first started out i was into cute girly names and now as I am getting older and more known I HATE all the cute stuff. I re-named my blog and everything just to my name. I think its the best these days for anyone who wants to look professional.

Moorea Seal said...

I actually now a wonderful girl named Ocean! Nice choice. Noor is also a pretty magical name. :)
I haven't legally changed my name yet. Ugh. I was going to after high school but then I had already applied to college and had applied for loans and grants with the name Ashley so I thought changing it then would be too complicated. I think I'll just legally change it once I get married someday.
xo Moorea

Yelle said...

You have such a unique story to your name! I love that your teacher embraced it, as well as your family. Yelle for me is a bit of a nickname, and not everyone I know embraces it, but my closest loved ones do!

dianne/icefloe said...

Oh I love this. I chose a ridiculous name for my original etsy store and have just moved everything over to my own name (except my new store name, which is the same as my blog) and its so much easier. I change way too often (at the moment apparently I'm a cowboy?!) and using some random name doesn't work. So I totally agree!

Also I love that you have a beautiful name that doesn't sound like a name too much, so at first it sounds like a wonderful phrase!

Ashley said...

My name is Ashley and while I've always rolled my eyes about never being the only Ashley in school or in the workplace, I've never felt trapped by my name. I'm a designer, so it does sometimes suck being a creative with such a common name. Once people meet me though they normally see I'm a pretty unique person, even if I do have a common name.

I named my blog Modern Bohemian because I felt like it described me to a T. I feel connected to it, in a similar way to using your own name as your brand I suppose.

angela said...

I have actually been thinking about this very thing all week. I, unlike you, am a bit scared of change. I have a name for my portrait illustrations that I already sell on etsy but it has become too "cutesy" for how my style has evolved.

Thanks for your pointers. They couldn't have been more perfectly timed.

PS - so cool that you named yourself. When I was growing up, I always felt like a "Kate"... but I never ever enforced it ;)

the turquoise paintbrush said...

wow, wow, wow!
i adore this post.
like you, i'm an over-thinker/over-analyzer...and choosing a name for my etsy shop was a VERY serious time for me...and in the end i chose my name as well. i dont have such a glamourous name as you, but i love everything you said in your post about allowing for freedom/growth/etc etc.
thank you!

Roxana said...

What a great post Moorea! I have struggled with this sooooooo much. I am also a Studio Arts major- painting- and a HUGE over-thinker! I wanted to keep my jewelry and art separate but its been pretty difficult to come up with names. Hence, the lack of an art page yet, but in the works. You are also lucky you have such a beautiful name! Hope to see you soon in PDX. <3

Caitlin Richards said...

I have a friend who is from Tahiti, and she posts pictures of an island Northwest of Tahiti called Mo'orea. It's so beautiful! You should go there sometime if you haven't already been! The name means "yellow lizard" in Polynesian. And thanks for the post! I feel more confident with using my name now instead of naming my various different products by different names. I like the idea of branding yourself too. Most high end designers use their names or a psuedonym for their company/companies.

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Kristy Good said...

Hi Moorea, thank you for this article! I have read your blog in the
past, but I just googled "use your name or brand name" and found this!
Glad I did! I have been struggling for months now because my day job is
graphic design and I already have a website established as a portfolio
for that, using my real name. Problem is since childhood I have dreamed
of having my own company, and now I'm realizing that jewelry is mostly
where I'm interested in taking that. I see so many jewelry lines with
fun, cutesy or sassy names and I just feel like "Kristy Good" doesn't
have that ring to it. This article made me feel much more confident
about using my name as my brand so that I am free to expand or change
direction in the future as my brand evolves.

I do have a question
for you: You say that you started out calling your shop Moorea Seal
Illustration but then changed it to just Moorea Seal. Are you referring
to your Etsy shop? How did you drop "Illustration" from your shop name?
Did you just open a new one? One of the things I hate is that I am stuck
with "Kristy Good Designs" as the name in some of the social media that
I've started, so I can't really drop "Designs" in every outlet where
I'm advertising.

Thank you for a great article and for your very useful advice!