What’s in a name, you ask? Should you name your
business after your personal name? Or a studio name?
Unfortunately, most of us do not think of the long-term
implications of either. If you are starting a business or reinventing
one, then you should think long and hard about the way you name
it. Remember, you only have one chance to make a good first
impression. Your name or brand is what you represent and what your
company stands for, among other things.
The sensibility of a name can be the life or death of your company.
Of course, if your work precedes you, it doesn’t really matter what
your business name is—you should be busy regardless—but there are
other implications you probably haven’t considered yet.
Most photographers name their business after their personal
name and work from home. But is your name salable? Most
prospective business owners start a business to sell it. Why, then,
don’t we as photographers think like regular business people? I truly
believe there is more art in business than in photography.
Think about it: Your growth as an artist is usually slow, but one
simple decision can affect your growth as a business overnight. It’s
not impossible to sell your business if it is named after your personal
name, but it does prove to be a lot more difficult. Year after year
as your business grows, so does your business equity. What good
is your business equity if you can’t take advantage of it? Are you
able to sustain the lifestyle you have been accustomed to once you
retire? Would you not like to sell your business one day for $50,000?
$100,000? $200,000 or more?
When I started my business in 1997, I deliberately did not name it
after my personal name, as I knew that I had a better chance of selling
it one day. I always promoted the company brand rather than the
individual. If I was the business, then I really had no business. It was
much easier to promote my associate photographers without my
name being on the door. I knew that perhaps one day I would start
a business after my personal name (when my goals changed) and I
ended up selling my business in 2007. In 2008, I started a new business
venture after my personal name. I know that I will never be able to sell
it, but my intention is to make more money since I am charging more
for my services and promoting the “artist” rather than the “company.”
An individual artist’s signature should garner more money than a
company brand. Yes, the expectation is that I have to photograph all
the assignments, but I am happy to do so for the right price. As I
approach the later years of my business, I could potentially reinvent
my current business to include associates and move my business
out of my home.;
If you are operating your business after your personal name, are
you at least charging a larger amount for your services as the exclusive
artist? I certainly don’t have the most creative name, but it is a decision
that I have made and am content with. If your name is not creative or
sexy enough, you may want to modify it a little so it has the prestige
of an individual but the broadness of a salable name. If you want to
change your name to a salable name and don’t know where to start,
BY JERRY GHIONIS
WHAT WOULD JERRY DO?
think of a short, sharp and sexy name that rolls off the tongue. If you
want inspiration for those kinds of names, go to the perfume counter
at Bloomingdale’s. The fashion and cosmetic industry have spent
millions of dollars to understand what attracts the female audience
(which is usually the target market for wedding photographers).
Think seriously about the steps you need to take to make your
business salable and maximize the lure of how much an individual
artist’s signature is worth.
Jerry Ghionis is widely regarded as one of the best wedding
photographers and educators in the world, is a USA Nikon Ambassador
and was WPPI’s very first Grand Master.
I know I will never be able to
sell my business, but my intention
is to make more money
since I am charging more and
promoting the “artist.”