What’s in a Name? What’s in a Brand?

shutterstock_112457309Confession… I am having a bit of an identity crisis. Let me backtrack.

I have just come off of what can only be described as the best two weeks of my life. On October 26, in front of our beloved family and friends, a beautiful sunset and a birch wood, fall-colored altar, my husband and I (still so strange to say that!) said, “I do.” It was the beautiful culmination of five incredible years of dating, one long year of planning and countless well wishes over the last few months. And it truly was, as everyone predicted, the best day of my life.

That Saturday evening was electrifying—from the reading of our personal vows to our first dance to the cake cutting to the throwing of my bouquet. It was a whirlwind of emotions and one of those defining life events.

Coming back to work today I was greeted by a wonderfully sweet sign on my office door: Welcome back, Mrs. Carrie Schmelkin-Majewski! Such a sweet gesture though that hyphen certainly did not look pretty! Throughout the day colleagues stopped by to see how the wedding was, pausing to look at the sign. Then came the question on many people’s minds: Are you going to change your last name?

Ahh… the great question. After all, there are so many options! (Though seeing the hyphenation in person pretty much confirmed what I knew all along; with two last names that are such a mouthful, hyphenation is simply not in the cards).

To walk you through my thought process quickly, I haven’t for a second doubted whether I would take my husband’s name. But, of course, I never really thought about how complicated it will be to take a new name when I have built a career as a writer.

I can’t pretend that I have a good last name. In fact, my whole life I dreamed of “upgrading.” But at least I knew I was the only “Carrie Schmelkin” out there and that when you did a Google search for “Carrie Schmelkin,” the only results that turned up were my stories, marketing projects and career. So the sign and questions got me thinking: how will my “personal brand” be affected by my name change? (You’d be amazed how many fellow journalists and marketers out there are writing about the same dilemma).

Don’t worry. I’ve come up with my solution. And it will be demonstrated in subsequent bylines once I get all that Social Security card, DMV, and passport business sorted out—so stay tuned!

But this whole dilemma begs the question: what’s in a brand?

From your company’s name to your logo to your marketing collateral, your company has been building a brand, telling a story, and developing a compelling message from its inception. Your customers, prospects, key stakeholders—even the search engine titans!—have come to associate your company with a particular corporate identity. It’s an identity you have been honing since the creation of your business, whether you were aware or not.

Your job as a marketer is to protect your brand identity and to remember that your story and chief differentiators set you apart from your competitors. In some ways, the success of your business hinges upon your ability to remain steadfast in your messaging across all platforms, to always tell your story accurately, and to treat any rebranding efforts sensitively. Whether you manage your company’s blog, social media accounts, or write the occasional white paper, never lose sight of the fact that the company you work for has created an identity, much as you have personally. So be sure to drive cautiously down any new roads, being mindful of speed bumps along the way.

For me, well I’ve already buckled up, embracing the notion that my personal brand is about to take a detour. But I, too, am going to tread lightly—figuring out a way to bridge my two identities together. Treat your brand with the same sensitivity as you dabble in new marketing efforts; it deserves that extra level of attention.