Love it or hate it, the name we are given at birth usually sticks with us forever. The process of choosing children’s names is taken seriously and is often full of meaning. My kids all got parent or grandparent middle names, a tradition my daughter has continued. Pregnant Mums either knit, or get books from of the library that list all the options, with meanings (eg Adolf, not popular since the second world war, etc). A name can often indicate the sex and age of the person, class, their nationality, ethnic group, even which part of the country they come from. Pet names often presage children’s names by a few years as young couples try out Beau, or Riley, on their Pugs first.
Sometimes it is left to chance. You may have seen how a submarine, named by public poll, got its name: Boaty Mcboatface.
Some people name their homes. Nick and I decided to name our house after my father’s childhood home (although to do so in the age of Amazon deliveries is probably an affectation).
If you have been following Sewvember on Instagram (#bpsewvember), organised by Amanda Adams of @BimpleandPimble, you may have noticed (Day One) she asked everyone to explain their Instagram name. It was fascinating to read the stories – especially the really weird and unusual ones. But most of us chose a somewhat obvious name like Susan1962, TwirlyShirley or rely on corny puns like Sewshattered.
I prefer it when someone includes their actual name, as it is easier to comment if you know they are called Susan or Shirley. Sometimes the person becomes the name, especially when the name is chosen to cloak the real identity. I always think of Elaine as Demented Fairy, and Mrs Mole is a complete mystery.
The discussion made me think about how we name and describe ourselves, so here are my two pennies worth of wisdom on the topic. It’s a bore when you change your name as people have only just got used to it. Remember when Marathon bars became Snickers (in 1990)? I am still not that happy about that. We are all creatures of habit and can be easily confused. Do it once and do it right.
Marathon became Snickers
Tip no 1:
When choosing a name for yourself on Twitter, Instagram etc, give it sufficient time and thought – these names can stick.
Originally I called this blog “Fit and Flare” – it was a pun too – a blog about fit (one of the main reasons why I sew) but also about flare/flair – style. (And Fit and Flare is a style of dress too). I chose my own identity at the same time – Fabrickated. This name is a portmanteau word combining Fabric with my name Kate D(avies). In fact, at one point, my email name was Kated so that felt comfortable. As well as encapsulating what I was doing – fabricating things – it had my name on it! Ha ha. I was pleased with the formulation, and it has proved to be memorable, and good fun. I wanted Fabrickate actually but that was taken.
A year into the blog my son Gus suggested I remove the confusion that two different names might cause – was I Fabrickated or was I Fit&Flare? Good question. Although few of us are professional bloggers we do, sort of, become a brand, and you don’t want to confuse people, especially in the fast paced digital world. So, taking his advice I dumped Fit and Flare and now the blog is simply Fabrickated. It is really silly and unbelievable but on three occasions I have had the embarrassing but delightful experience of someone shouting out, across a shop, or on a bus “It’s Fabrickated!”.
So here comes Tip no 2:
If you have an online presence across more than one platform stick to one name.
The internet world is chockablock. Keep it simple or you will just drown. I know people running micro businesses with more names and handles than large conglomerates. Bear your reader in mind.
Finally a point on the sub-title. This is idea from the world of book publishing. You give your book a name, and then follow on with a short summary of what it is all about.
Monty Don, Down to Earth: Gardening Wisdom
Mary Berry, Mary’s Household Tips and Tricks: Your Guide to Happiness in the Home
Tim Peake, Ask an Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space
These “strap lines” are also found in the world of branding. I always liked (the now defunct)
Thames Water: Running Water for You.
The blogging sites, like WordPress, encourage you to choose a sub-title. This allows classification but more importantly it tells readers right away what sort of things you be will covering. Have a look at what your favourite blogs say at the top of the front page, right after the title. It is very revealing, and helps readers decide if they will like the blog or not.
When I started Fit and Flare I gave it a sub-title – fit and fashion, style and stitching – I like a bit of alliteration! Actually having a four-part approach gave me lots of leeway in terms of content. This was never just a dressmaking blog covering fit and stitching – I wanted to write about fashion and style too. And the formulae more or less worked until I started knitting. And jewellery making, and crochet, and now boots. So I toyed with adding the words knitting, or crafting. But as I haven’t been doing much stitching or fitting recently, I have been feeling that the subtitle might be a bit misleading.
Tip no 3 is:
Use your subtitle to make your blog stand out, and make sure it reflects the content.
On reflection now is the time for me to update my strap line, or my sub-title.
Today I have refreshed it to… (tiny drum roll)…
Making Life more Beautiful
How did you choose your Instagram or Twitter handle? Or the name of your blog?