“What's in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.” (Romeo and Juliet, II, ii, 1-2)
In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, we see the notion that names are not necessarily important because they do not contribute or take away from one’s character. In fact, Literary Devices suggests Juliet was merely implying that names only hold the meaning we place on them.
While this may be true, many people have a high regard for selecting the most appropriate name for their children, their businesses, and even their pets. This is especially true for people of various religious backgrounds, including me.
When I decided to let go of my previous blog and start this one in 2015, it took me quite some time to think of just the right name before I purchased my domain. The possibilities were endless! I kept vacillating between so many options. Should I go with my name? Should I go with a play on words? Or would I be like Olivia Pope and listen to my gut?
Pro Tip: If you are searching for a book title, chapter title, blog name or a brand name, give yourself permission to explore and discover what you want represented. There's no need to rush.
Why Names Are Important To Me
I opted against my name because, in my entire life, only two people have pronounced my name correctly without having to ask me for the pronunciation first. While many have complimented my name, and even suggested the ease of growing a personal brand under my birth name, I simply could not bring myself to do it. I didn't want to go through the headache and nightmare of no one being able to spell or pronounce my name when searching for me.
Names are very important to me because of their meaning. It’s what you answer to every day. As a writer and entrepreneur, it is important to remember that names can evoke certain emotions and are sometimes associated with specific events or historical figures. My name, for example, is Ja'Quette' (juh-kweh-tuh). It's French and is the feminine form of Jacques (meaning James / Jacob). James is a derivative of Jacob, and is often used in connection with one of the disciples of Christ, as well as patron saints.
As a writer, I’ve oftentimes written short stories with specific names I chose for the characters. For example, one character in a particular story of mine is named Camille, which means perfect. This was important to the story and even shaped her personality and her interactions with other characters.
I used this same approach to naming my three daughters, too. So, it only makes sense that I would do the same when choosing a name for my brand.
My Thought Process
Truth be told, I wasn’t entirely clear on everything I wanted my brand to represent when I chose my domain. I just knew I wanted a space to share my book, and a space to encourage others while inspiring them to look for the positive in even the darkest situations.
I wrote a list of possible names. Here are a few of the choices I wrote down:
Sugar and spice - I wanted to use a play on words to describe the sweet and spicy moments in life that we can all learn from.
J. Gilbert - Unfortunately, this domain was already taken.
J. P. Gilbert - I wasn’t too excited about having my maiden initial included at the time.
Mrs. J. P. Gilbert - This is what I use on all social media, but it just didn’t sound right for my brand because it lacked the personality I was looking for.
Although I do not particularly like my first name (sorry, Mom!), I am rather attached to the initial J. Once I settled on including my first initial into my brand name, I scratched off my play on words option. For me, this would still provide the personal feeling I wanted for my brand identity while not requiring anyone to remember the correct spelling of my name!
How I Chose My Brand / Domain Name
I was wrapping up an e-newsletter one day, and I told my husband that I wanted a really cool signature. It took me a while, but I came up with “Joyfully, J.”. I loved the ring it had to it, and I felt it really encompassed what I wanted to be known for -- being joyful regardless of any circumstance.
I want my writing to be raw, creative, and authentic, but I also want my readers to know that even in the most horrible circumstance, you can still have joy. Writing can be such an emotional journey. It can uncover negative or uplifting emotions, but at the end of the day, I choose to be joyful. I believe happiness comes and goes, but joy stays.
What You Can Learn from My Experience
While creating a brand identity is important to do (especially before writing and publishing your first book!), give yourself time to develop. I have changed direction so many times in my writing, and I do not apologize for it because it is all a part of the process. Everyone's journey is unique.
If you're ready to create a brand, then take out your cute notepad and pen (or open up your electronic device of choice) and answer the following questions:
- Think about what you want to be known for. Do you want people to think of you as one who provides comic relief? Maybe you want to be known for educating the public about gender parity. Even if you are multi-passionate like me, find a way to combine your passions in such a manner that is not confusing to your readers. For example, you may love writing about relationship advice for single women. Yet, it could be confusing to see your brand also focusing on teaching how to read sheet music as well as ways to protect our habitat.
- What kind of writer are you? Do you write fiction or nonfiction? Both?
- What themes do you enjoy writing about? Will you be known for writing about the same one or two themes?
- What emotions do you want to evoke when people come into contact with your brand?
There are certainly a lot of aspects to consider beyond these questions, however, this is a good start. Remember, do not rush the process. Experiment as much as possible with your writing before branding.
Already branded, but think you need a change? No worries! We all go through growing periods. We were meant to evolve. While you should be cautious about changing your brand too much (readers do appreciate consistency!), don't be afraid to let your readers know what's going on.