In the world of personal branding, everyone shouts from the top of the hills that you must stand out if you want to be noticed.

You get it.

You're mom didn't.

She named you something so boring, so unoriginal, so blah.

Jim Jones?

Mary Brown?

John Peters?

C'mon! there's no way you're ever going to stand out, let alone find you on the World Wide Web, right? Wrong!

How do I build my online brand when I have a common name?

Maybe you didn't get to the online world in time to grab your domain name or get that social media vanity account you were hoping for.

Now, I'm not saying this is going to be easy but there are a few things you can do:

  • Use a variation of your name. Play around with hyphenations, initials, and nicknames like:, www.Steven-Jason-Smith.Com,
  • Use a different domain extension. There are over 20 different types of domain extensions available like .me, .biz, .mobi, .tv, etc. Find one that makes sense for you.
  • Incorporate other brand elements. Add your profession, location, or some other sort of identifying factor to your name like,, or
  • Keep your name consistent across all social media platforms. Services like search numerous social media platforms to find and secure your chosen username and vanity handles.
  • Skew your results. To get your name ranked on the top pages of Google for terms that are most relevant to your personal brand, use a service like They are a free service to help you manage your online reputation and improve your search results.
  • Publish Content. Aside from building your reputation and credibility, when you consistently produce online content like blog posts, articles, press releases, e-books, etc., you create a digital footprint that's tied to your name.
  • Change it. If all else fails and you simply cant stand having a common name any longer, change it (or use a pen name). Sure, that's drastic but it will definitely add to your brand story.

Keep the conversation flowing what are your top tips for branding a common name?

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy 17 Creative Ways To Promote Your Personal Brand Through Video

Kimberly Bordonaro

Kimberly Bordonaro is a brand strategist and the founder of Brandspiration, a blog that uses ridiculously fun lyrical references to explain how everyday entrepreneurs can create their distinctive brands.

Brandspiration Blog

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5 Responses to “6 Personal Branding Hacks: A Cheat Sheet for People with Common Names”

  1. This is something that happens far too often especially when looking for a domain name, and its frustrating when all versions/combinations of your name seem to be taken. What I usually do (or tell people to do) is use combination of their first name and a nick name, or add a combine their first name with their business. I certainly wouldnt recommend anyone to change their name though!

    • Thanks for checking out my post and leaving a great tip, Jeff!

      Personally, I don't see anything wrong with changing your name, if you don't like it. My father had the reverse problem with a last name that was hard to pronounce (Ochrach). He was in sales and his customers would call him "Mr. Oakes". Guess what? My maiden name is Oakes. That added to his brand story and it was a name he liked. Funny thing is, he was hesitant to tell his father that he changed his last name for fear of offending him. Little did he know that my grandfather changed the family's last name to Ochrach when he immigrated to the United States! Name changing is more common that people may initially expect. :)

  2. Alex Rascanu says:

    Good article, Kimberly. This past week-end I actually had a discussion with a friend about this exact topic. He has a rather common name and is going through a lot of trouble to build an online brand for himself. He even offered $1,000 to buy from someone a social media profile with his exact name, but that person registered it for his little son and won't sell "even for a million dollars." The world is waking up to the relevance of online branding. I'll share your article with my friend.

  3. […] a variation of your name.  In her post 6 Personal Branding Hacks: A Cheat Sheet for People With Common Names, Kimberly Bordonaro, a branding consultant who realizes that “ must stand out if you want to […]