Freelancing - Naming Advice?


I do web development and graphic design as a hobby; I'm an enthusiast that's been immersed in these communities for more than 5 years. Recently I've been doing more serious work in these fields. I've been getting paid to do it, and I'd like to launch a freelancing brand for this work I do on the side. I would continue to go under my name, but my last name sounds nothing like it's spelled.

Naturally, I want a slick brand to go under, and the name is a significant part of that. I've been reading various articles on branding, and what I've taken away is to avoid names that reference a particular region, are silly, or aren't at all descriptive of what you do.

As for the descriptive of what I do part - I generally stick to web development, UI design, and digital graphics, although I've more recently become involved in print design and I'd like to be open to doing more in this ecosystem.

I've been brainstorming names over the past few months and haven't come up with but a few names that I'd like to use. I'd like to voice my concerns for each and ask for some advice on which one would be a better fit. Note that none of the names are taken and each have unregistered .com domains.

  • Spiffy Creative - to me, it sounds like what I want to convey: upbeat, stylish, and structured. It also seems like the name would stick relatively well. However, it also sounds a bit childish. Alternatively, I would name it Spiff Creative... what sort of thoughts does this one evoke?
  • Whitewall Creative - I was thinking of the elegance of whitewall tires and decided to see if the name was taken. Surprisingly, it wasn't. To me, it sounds a bit bland as well, though.
  • 110 (percent) Creative - this is how I'd like this name stylized. It also helps with URL memorability. There is already a slew of results for "100% Creative", but only 2 (as of the time of writing) for "110 percent Creative".
  • Function Creative - not taken, and function has a relatively positive connotation to it. Possibly a bit generic, though.

I'll pose this question in a shortened, answerable way:
TL;DR what's some good advice for a freelancer trying to create a brand? Which of these names would be appropriate/you could see yourself using? Sorry for writing a book. I tend to be perfectionist in most things I create, but I lack the experience to put my foot down and make a decision in this. Thanks for any help.

P.S. - I would've posted this in the freelancing stachexchange site, but it's not yet public.


asked Aug 10 '11 at 14:14
Trey K
118 points

5 Answers


What is in a name? Nothing and everything, for business it depends largely on the end goal ...

If you intend to be in it forever and you are solo... then name it after you, its your name on the line, in the right context that has value. "I stand behind my work"

If you intend to sell out in 2 to 3 years... don't use your name, use a brand name that can carry on without you being there.

If your in a niche industry pick something that has relevance to that industry or something people will remember. Microsoft, Apple, Google ... don't have a direct meaning but inspire people or allow people to remember them in their own ways.

If your in a generalist industry an inspiring name is likely to help people be drawn to you eg. "Trusted legal advice", "Toys are US" or my personal local favorite "Closing Down Rug Sale" ... (I'm not joking, its marketing genius, the sign has been there for 3 years now).

If you want brand name then "Virgin" ... seriously it had me noticing it when I was 15 year old ... a while ago now, and I have been watching it ever since.

If you are location based then a something that speaks to the location is important. "New York Real Estate", "Sydney Rd Traders".

Over where I am a multi billion dollar insurance company changed its name from location (Norwich Union) to allegedly inspiring (Aviva) because their location based name was lost on the now non-UK marketbase.

Really, the name matters as much as you let it ... if you have a name that inspires you, that speaks to others, that you and your team can stand behind and say "This is us" ... then it has value.

answered Aug 10 '11 at 20:12
Robin Vessey
8,394 points
  • Hey, thanks for the great answer! A great wealth of information to it, this is staying in my bookmarks for sure. Not only that, but the ending bit has quelled my restrictive perfectionism a bit. Thanks! – Trey K 12 years ago
  • Glad I could help, I tend to waste too much time worrying about naming things both as programmer and as business / product developer. – Robin Vessey 12 years ago


Are you doing simply generic design work or looking at specializing in servicing a specific niche? If so, it would probably be a good idea to to work a name towards that... or at least a catch phrase to attract the right market...

... But in all seriousness, the name while nice, isn't everything. Focusing more on what you're going to do for your clients is more important.

answered Aug 10 '11 at 16:35
310 points
  • Thanks for the advice! I'm not really in a niche market, though - I just do general graphic, print, and website design. I'm holding off on a slogan for now =) You're right about the clients bit, I'm just trying to get myself over this initial hurdle of a name, which I only feel partially justified in obsessing so over. I'll try to keep that in mind! – Trey K 12 years ago


In the book "Positioning" by Al Ries and Jack Trout, they argue that the name is in fact really important.

They suggest choosing a name that describes what the product's major benefit is (i.e., People magazine, DieHard batteries, BusinessWeek to cite another magazine, etc.).

They caution against three things:

  • Using initials or acronyms: no one remembers them, they mean nothing and say nothing to the prospect.
  • Using "coined" but meaningless names like Mercedes, Coca Cola, Xerox or Kodak. You can only use these if you are first to the market, which makes it easier for people to remember.
    • Using a name that is so generic that your business gets confused with others and you lose rights to the trademark (they cite Lite beer from Miller, which had to be changed to Miller Lite for this reason).

For freelancers and professionals, they emphasize:

  • focusing on the one thing you are good at, what skill are you going to hang your hat on. Like companies, don't be all things to all people.
  • if you use your name, make sure it is easy and elegant enough for people to remember. This is why actors/actresses change their names quite often. John Wayne's give name was Marion Morrison. Kirk Douglass was Issur Danielovitch.
  • if your name is too common, like John Smith, you might also want to think about using a business name (or changing your given name).
answered Aug 10 '11 at 20:50
Miguel Buckenmeyer
482 points
  • I've read similar advice, but this has some good points that clears things up. My last name is a bit of an elephant in the room when it comes to attempts to pronounce it, so I'm shying away from it. I'm not quite comfortable with using a business name other than some sort of combination of name and initial, and I'm nowhere near a position to change my name for this, but still some great advice. Thanks! – Trey K 12 years ago


I agree with most every answer but want to re-emphasize the context.

Brand isn't that important for a niche-service B2B except if it sucks, and when you (anyone) tries to be cool or cute with a name that can easily alienate you from an opportunity.

It's so far better to have a neutral name, even your last name with "Group" on it, than using any word that could ever be trendy - especially words that other 'e-solutions-specialists-media-fast-clickmor-enStudio-captiveDezine-xenon-nomad' folks might use.

Time and time again I get the feedback that I am the only one that actually makes them feel like they're having a real conversation - reason is because I treat them like a mensche...look it up if needed.

The others seem to want to portray themselves like a huge agency with an account rep and want to sell - you guessed it!, BRANDING! - and that alienates these folks fast and quick. Polished = bad, personal = good. Confide. Be humble. Tell them the questions they're forgetting to ask. When they say "ok, what's next" that means you sold it. Send them a nice PDF work proposal, get 50% down, 50% on approval, and knock it out.

Why would a very small law firm want to spend $7k on a website and come in for 'development and branding meetings with the art director and marketing manager'... to them that's like being sold a $20 gallon of milk.

If you tell your prospect, and you literally can, "... everyone out there is selling a $20 gallon of milk. I know it's $4, I charge $5 because I'm very good and I turn around a site in a week.' you will really get somewhere... they will think "ahh.. finally... the master mechanic who knows it really takes only an hour to fix it and won't charge me for ten.. sold!".

answered Aug 11 '11 at 11:24
249 points
  • Really strong advice, especially the focus on being personal. It's something I strive for but sometimes forget. Thanks! – Trey K 12 years ago


You want something that conveys your 'brand' and is easy to remember. And you want something that has your main keywords in it if possible, for search-engine optimization. And you want something you can spell over the phone without sounding like an Army Signal Corp Operator.

People pay other people big bucks to come up with these things!

I love puns, and haven't checked any of the following domains, but perhaps -

answered Aug 10 '11 at 17:31
Steven A. Lowe
101 points
  • Puns are nice, although I don't want to be too cutesy and I'm quite a cheeseball when it comes to humor so I don't quite believe this is the route for me. Thanks, though! – Trey K 12 years ago

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