By John Sonmez November 3, 2016

How To Choose Your Web Presence Name

Some people like to have a web presence. I've talked several times before about the importance of having a strong online presence when it comes to marketing yourself and building a successful career for yourself.

However, there are a lot of different ways in which you can create a web presence and one of them consists in choosing a name, whether it is for yourself or for a brand you're going to create. So, how do you come up with a good name for yourself? How do you come up with a good web presence name? What are the best practices for choosing a good web presence name?

There are some things you need to take into consideration when it comes to choosing a good name for yourself. You might want to create a brand that is simple and powerful. Besides that, choosing a web presence name does not mean only creating something that is easy for people to understand. People with names that can suffer from discrimination might also benefit from having a nickname or something like that.

So, do you wanna know more about choosing a strong, powerful and simple web presence name? Watch this video and find out!

Transcript Of The Video

John Sonmez: 

Hey, what’s up, John Sonmez from simpleprogrammer.com. I got a question here about branding and blogging here about how to choose your web presence. This question is from Tarik and he says, “John, after a really successful meet up where one of our developers did a great speak I was going to join the slack group to talk with the organizers and other developers. As I was about to join I had to create a user name. I’ve always been paralyzed at this prompt not because I don’t know what name to use but because I don’t know if my name is good for marketing purposes. For years I’ve been using”—I believe it’s Tikitariki. “Can you even guess how that’s pronounced?” I’m guessing Tikitariki must be Japanese. Let’s see. “Are there too many “I”s? I’m just not sure I feel comfortable going on using my handle, even though I like it. What is your opinion on usernames? We can’t always use our real name for signups. Sometimes we have to go to the username route, like with Instragram and Twitter. Not only that, using your real name can be scary especially with how xenophobic America is right now. My first name is Tarik and I’m not Middle Eastern at all, not that that even matters, but I’m always fearful of these little things getting in the way of my dev career. It makes me want to get a name change. Thank you for making videos. When I get a raise I’m definitely going to sign up for Patreon. Tarik.”

If you’re wondering what he’s talking about about Patreon, you can sign up. I’ve got a Patreon campaign for this channel. I don’t talk about it all that much, but you can get access to a private Facebook group that we have. You can get me to custom—at different higher levels I could send you a signed copy of Soft Skills and you can get me to custom videos for you, all that stuff. You can check it out there if you’re interested.

I’m interested in answering this question so I think this is an important question, right? What name should you use? Should you even go as far as changing your name? Does this matter for marketing purposes?

If you look at companies, if you look historically and there’s actually been the study that showed that the simpler the name is the more likely the company was to actually increase in the stock market. You look at big companies, what they eventually do is they reduce their name like IBM, HP, Apple, simple, simple names. You never really hear Google or—what do they name themselves now, ABC?

You don’t really hear too much of big companies that don’t reduce their names to something small and simple for people to remember and I think that’s important. If you have a name that is difficult to pronounce or a company name or a brand that’s difficult to pronounce and difficult for people to remember they’re less likely to remember it unless you make such a huge impact. Even myself, I have problems typing Quora but—there are some exceptions to this, but in general you want to keep things as simple as possible. What is this called? What is this site called, Simple Programmer, right? Simple Programmer. When I go and talk to people and they say, “Well, could you write down your website name?” I’ll say, “You know, I don’t even need to. It’s really simple. You just remember simple. It’s Simple Programmer. Simple Programmer. Simpleprogrammer.com. That’s it.”

That’s really easy for people. But my last name is Sonmez. It’s S-O-N-M-E-Z and I’m used to pausing and saying, SONMEZ because people don’t get that. My Twitter handle is Jsonmez. It sort of looks like Jason. It’s not great. It’s not good. People don’t remember that. It’s really difficult. Even when I try to give people my email address, that email address, it doesn’t work that well. It’s much better when I say John@simpleprogrammer.com. People remember that.

I think it is important that you pick something simple because—and also if you think about it if someone can’t pronounce your name they’re less likely to say it and they’re less likely to interact with you because they’re intimidated—people are constantly thinking of what other people think about them. You really want to give a lot of thought to this and try to come up with something simple that’s easy to pronounce that’s going to be something that is going to be—give you the most chance for success, both in people remembering you and approaching you and feeling comfortable with you.

That third one you kind of alluded to, you mentioned this, the xenophobic. I don’t know how strong that is but it definitely exists. A lot of people don’t like me saying that, but you’ve got to understand. I could tell you what you is right and I could tell you what is reality. I’m going to tell you what’s reality. Reality is that there are people that are going to be prejudice about your name, it’s going to happen. I get some amount of that with my name.

If you feel like your name is very much one of those names that is going to produce xenophobia in people, change it. Go legally change your name. Seriously. I’m not even joking with you. Why be married to some name if it’s going to harm you. You think, “Oh, this is crazy, John. How could you do that? You’re disrespecting cultures” and all this stuff. Come on, I’ve heard it all before. Look at actors. Actors change their name all the time, they use screen names. Writers do this, stage names.

Most of the famous actors that you know they have a really simplified name that was not their original name. Look it up and look at actors’ real names. Just Google that and see what you come up with. What you’re going to find is that they’ve done 2 things. One, they’ve changed their names if they were sort of—if they had a negative connotation that they thought maybe someone could be xenophobic about, and 2, they’ve made them really, really simple for the most part of catchy.

You should do the same thing. If people who have really highly paid PR organizations are doing these things then you should do them too. It makes sense. You look at the top, if big companies/corporations are making their names simple and they feel like there’s value in this you should probably do it too.

Again, I’m not saying be ashamed of your name, I’m not saying be ashamed of your heritage or your background or anything like that. I’m just saying let’s be practical, let’s be real here. Pick the thing that’s going to help you in life the most. Yeah, maybe your parents are going to get pissed off if you change it. I’ve thought about legally changing my last name to Son instead of Sonmez because that would be easier if I was just John Son. But at this point I’ve branded so far into Sonmez that people know the name. If I were starting over like knowing what I know now I would have actually legally change my name. My parents would have disowned me and whatnot but I would have lived with that because, hey, it’s your life, you’ve got to choose.

I definitely recommend this especially—even if you can just—even if you don’t legally change your name but you can use a nick name on a resume especially if you have one of those names that you feel like is going to cause you to become discriminated against, why fight it? You’re not going to change the world, instead you can change your name. You can do something like that.

I know a lot of people are going to be pissed off about this, but hey, this is reality. Like I said, you can’t change the world. Right or wrong, it doesn’t matter. I’m not telling you moralistically what the world should be doing, I’m telling you what the world does and what you should do in response. You’ve always got to think in those terms. If you’re thinking that you’re going to change the world or you’re going to fight this rebellion and stand for your cause and it’s going to hurt you in the end and not change the world, it’s a waste. You want to change the world? Make a billion bucks. That’s the best way. Then you can change the world. Until then holding a picket sign or being angry about something that doesn’t do anything.

Anyway, good question. If you have a question for me, email me at john@simpleprogrammer.com. If you like would like to get more videos like this where I piss off people and tell you how to get disowned by your parents click the subscribe button and I’ll talk to you next time. Take care.

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."