How to Handle a Name Change AND Maintain Your Personal Brand

The older tradition of changing your name after marriage is not one that is so readily followed today, probably for a number of reasons.



I have had a number of clients who have successfully built their professional reputations under their maiden name and kept that professionally after marriage. Using their married name in more personal situations or for legal or financial reasons.

However recently a client had the added challenge of wanting to change her name after re-marrying, BUT maintain the equity she had built in her personal brand and for her business from her former married name.

A bit more of a dilemma indeed. So I thought more about this and tapped in to the wisdom and a number of personal brand colleagues.

If this is something you are facing then firstly you need to decide what is the ideal result that you are looking for? Depending on the urgency of the need there are a number of initial choices;

  1. An immediate and obvious step would be to start hyphenating the previous and new names for a period of time, e.g. Jones-Smith. Perhaps leaving it for 6 months or so before eventually switching fully over once people have become used to the change. But this can get messy, especially if online domains and presence are part of the equation, because you end up having to change twice.
  2. If the desire is to make a more immediate change then having the former name in brackets afterwards can help. E.g. Sarah Jones (formerly Smith).  Again this would be something that would probably be needed to be done for a period of time but once done there is not a need to actually change for a second time but rather just omit the brackets.
  3. Certainly not wishing to think the new marriage will not last, but a more permanent solution would be to revert back to the maiden name and build the brand and business going forward. Then any changes in the future will not impact on the brand.

Once that initial step has been taken then there are a number of follow up actions that you are going to want to take with regards to your name and online brand:

  1. Check the availability of the new name you want to use. You can do this easily at . Also some of the more popular social media sites help you with this.

Facebook allows you to have an alternate name under which people search for you but it does not show on your profile.  Facebook name change instructions. 

LinkedIn has similar options – instructions are listed here

Twitter has some useful instructions on changing your username here

  1. Start with your existing network and update everyone with new name and co-ordinates. Ask that they change all their records to reflect your new name and request they do the same when talking about you.

Phone apps such as Vizibility help to share your new information with people you meet and interact with using the popular vCard information base.

Check with these connections if you have anything connected to them that has your old name on and ask them to update and change it.

  1. Make sure that all online profiles, especially ones that are not directly social media ones reflect the change. These could be professional bios, speaker profiles, association and other organizational memberships, really anywhere that you have placed yourself professionally.
  1. Now go a stage further and do a full Google (and other major search engines such as Bing) search for your current name.

What can you update? For example;

–       articles – ask to update your bio box at the end

–       guest blog posts – ask to update your byline

–       book reviews – update profile on places such as Amazon or Goodreads

–       press releases – you can sometimes update these yourself.

–       presentations on sites such as Slideshare – update slides and repost

If there is a lot out there with your name on and you are diligent with this you may even get noticed enough by Google that they re-index you which will help with turning up in future searches.

There is an added bonus, especially if you have been in business for a while or perhaps have lost touch with some people, or not been in touch as much as you wanted. Use this as an opportunity for an official announcement.

If you are happy with many of your brand elements and the name is the main thing then perhaps wait for some latest news, a new product or service or a major event to officially announce the re-naming.

But if there are other things about your brand that you have been meaning to change then take the time to do some deeper work on your brand and go for a fuller, more out there rebrand or re-launch of you AND the business.

What challenges or solutions do you see to this? This article is obviously women focused but perhaps there are situations where men have to face this too – would love to know if you can think of one!

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