Personal Branding: Better to use your full name or a nickname?


I have read a lot of questions asking if it is better to use their name or their business name on their twitter/facebook/youtube accounts and so on. The answer was it is better to separate those, use your personal for your self and the business one for your biz updates.

What I didn't find an answer is if it is good to use instead of your full name, a nickname for your personal branding.
By nickname I do not mean girl18hot or crazyb0y. What I mean is, suppose you own Microsoft or something smaller. Are mrmicrosoft or something not so "formal" as pclovesme or something that shows who you are/what you do, good candidates?

Is this a good or a bad scenario ?


asked Feb 14 '12 at 13:18
125 points

2 Answers


I use my full name for all of my "personal branding" for two main reasons:

  • SEO Benefits : If someone hears about me by name or reads something about me and decides to google me, I want there to be relevant results. Using my real name on sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and the Stack Exchange network helps those profiles rank highly for my name and helps build out my professional identity for searchers.
  • Your Identity Changes : You don't really want to tie yourself to one company or one concept. Even if it is your startup, it might fail or you might eventually leave, and it can be awkward to try and leave with your @Mr<insert startup> twitter handle. There are even cases where people have been sued for it.

It's certainly okay to use your full name, and then talk about your company on your profile. But the facts of our lives can change in ways we don't expect. It's much easier to amass a following as a real live person, and have people know you as the guy who works at <startup> -- rather than trying to mix your actual personal identity into your comapny's.

answered Feb 14 '12 at 15:51
Hartley Brody
1,317 points
  • Thank you for your answer. It was to the point and really helped me. – Nikolai 12 years ago
  • However, my actual name is Nikolas (or Nicholas) Nikolaides. Isn't that too hard for a non Greek to spell, write this? – Nikolai 12 years ago
  • I think that's actually a really cool name! You might do something like "NikoNiko" or something to play up the cool repetition. – Hartley Brody 12 years ago


I believe a lot depends on what your name is. If you happen to have a common name or the same name as a well known person it may be virtually impossible to establish your unique identity on the internet using your real name. For example if your name happens to be Bill Gates you could not live long enough to be THE Bill Gates on the internet. By the same token if you happen to have the same name as a notorious person like Bernie Madoff or Moammar Gadhafi your task will be extremely difficult.

What you really want it to be known by an easy to remember, easy to spell and favorable moniker. This is why so many actors and performers take on stage names.

In your particular case, Hartley Brody, you have a great name and there is no reason not to use it. You are already well established in Google so you are doing a good job.

For others, particularly someone whose name can't be represented in the roman alphabet trying to sell products and services to English speaking customers, a moniker may be the best option.

In my case I use the handle JonnyBoats, but I do not hide my real name, John Tarbox. (easy to find in Google). I do believe it is important for people to be able to know who you really are if you expect them to do business with you.

If you think of the computer industry there are lots of people who use handles and are well known by them, ScottGu at Microsoft for example.

EDIT: My apologies Nikolas Nikolaides, you have a fine name as well. Unfortunately when one Googles your name the response is:

Did you mean: Nikolas Nikolaidis

which means you need to do more work if you wish to establish your name as a well known brand. Also there are two (2) Nikolas Nikolaides in LinkedIn, which further contributes to brand dilution. In your case I guess a lot depends on if you can get the user name Nikolas Nikolaides on all the sites you visit or if the other Nikolas Nikolaides has gotten there ahead of you.
answered Feb 14 '12 at 16:25
Jonny Boats
4,848 points
  • Thank you for it, you hit the spot because the first 6 letters of my big name and surname are the same. So, I can not do like ScottGu does, it is kinda weird to create a let's say _MoammarMoam_. On the other hand my _20lettersLongFullName.com_ is something I have to avoid also! And for the moniker, I guess I would not use a _doubleMoam_, right? – Nikolai 12 years ago
  • My actual full name is Nikolas (or Nicholas) Nikolaides. – Nikolai 12 years ago
  • Thank you for your updated answer. You really helped me to take a decision. – Nikolai 12 years ago

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