Dear Brit: Should I Name My Company After Myself?
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
Brit Morin was 25 when she left Google to start Brit + Co, a lifestyle and education company aimed at helping women cultivate creative confidence. Now — 10 years, $50 million in funding and 1.2 billion pageviews later — Brit’s passion is empowering more women to take the entrepreneurial leap. She’s a managing partner at VC fund Offline Ventures, host of iHeartRadio podcast Teach Me Something New, creator of a 10-week start your own business course for women founders called Selfmade, and, most recently — Entrepreneur advice columnist. Find her here twice a month on Thursdays, answering the most personal and pressing questions of women entrepreneurs. Have a question for Brit? Email it to Dearbrit@brit.co and she could answer it in an upcoming column!
Eponymous or anonymous?
Dear Brit: What are the pros and cons of naming my business after myself?
It’s funny you ask, because I was recently interviewing fashion icon, Diane Von Furstenberg on my podcast, Teach Me Something New. I told her how I struggled over the decision to put the word “Brit” in my brand name, and how investors sometimes wouldn’t participate in my financing rounds because they thought it could be dangerous if I decided to leave the company or God forbid, got hit by a bus and died. (For some reason, every investor used the bus scenario when envisioning my untimely death... ) But on the plus side, I knew that putting my name in the brand would connect my audience with me, the human, in a much more authentic way, and that could make the brand feel even more engaging than a generically named brand.
Diane agreed, saying that when she started making her famous wrap dress, she named the brand Diane Von Furstenberg because she was the type of woman she wanted to reach. She was a mid-20 something that wanted to wear a dress that could transition from the office to a date night, and that — most importantly — would evoke confidence often lacking in women at the time. To this day, decades later and even as she’s aged, she has stayed true to the original mission, and kept the brand’s tone youthful. I aspire for Brit + Co to carry out the same legacy… yes, even if I one day get hit by a bus.
My business is asking the big questions like, who am I?
Dear Brit: I finally have a business idea! Now, how do I develop the brand?
My good friend Emily from the popular branding agency Red Antler is one of our guest teachers for Selfmade, the 10-week virtual startup school we host for female founders. In it, she teaches the “WHY” test. Basically, it’s a method to understand the core emotional response that you want your product or service to create within your customer. This in turn helps you develop your brand voice and personality.
Here’s an example: Let’s pretend you make healthy frozen kids meals. Why would parents want to buy this? Because they often do not have time to make dinner — much less make it healthy. Why does it matter that their kids have a healthy dinner? Because if their kids don’t eat well, they won’t develop their bodies and brains to their full potential. Why does it matter that kids develop their bodies and brains to their full potential? Because if the next generation is stronger, more emotionally stable and smarter than other generations, they can collectively change the world.
Okay, you get where I’m going here. In this scenario, I might think about a brand for my frozen meals that is all about inspiring parents to pave the path for the next generation of kids who can change the world. I’d think about a name that feels lofty in this way, like Changemaker Meals. I’d tout the benefits of a healthy mind and body. I’d suggest to parents that we’re doing good for the world while also saving them precious time.
It may just be a frozen kids meal, but to my customers, supporting the brand makes them feel like part of a tribe dedicated to empowering change across the world.
So try the same exercise for your business. What is the deeper “WHY” behind your solution?