It’s that time of year again. Spring is in the air and the wedding invites are in the mailbox. And, I don’t know about you, but my friends are dropping like flies.
All this wedding mania has made me think though: how does getting married affect your personal brand.
Right now, there are a lot of young women out there who are building blogs, forging relationships worldwide, establishing ourselves as experts and getting name recognition. We’re putting hundreds of hours of effort to make sure that people all over the internet know who we are. We’re personal-branding like crazy!
So, I want to know, what happens when we get married?
For hundreds of years, women have taken the last names of our husbands. It’s originally how we were “branded” as a part of the family. It’s only in the last decades that women have strayed away from this tradition… and it’s usually seen as a more radical feminist statement.
When I was younger, I was definitely not one of those women who wanted to make a statement by keeping my maiden name! I ‘may’ even have practiced my signature with my current crush’s last name… just in case I ever needed to use it. (Which, if anyone ever confronts me about, I will deny to my dying breath.) I was convinced it would be utterly romantic to have the same last name as my husband.
Now, I’m not so sure. Not because I want to defy outdated marriage traditions, burn my bra, or prove my independence. Those factors are all irrelevant to me.
I’m very seriously thinking that I will keep my maiden name throughout life for one reason: it’s my personal brand!
The issues with “I do”
There are tons of issues that we personal-branding women have to be aware of when we’re considering taking the last name of our future husband.
If I changed my name, how much recognition would I lose? Would people get confused when they follow a link from one of my articles and come across a “different” person?
How many social media sites would I have to go to in order to change my old name to my new one? (It’s a LOT more difficult today than just the driver’s license, bank account and passport.)
And, I know many of you personal branding aficionados will be horrified at this thought too: What if the vanity url and essential screennames were already taken?????
With this name I thee wed?
This is a big deal, because one of the first steps of personal branding is securing your vanity url. If you own yourname.com, you get a head start on being THE most visible person with your name. (Which could be big if you have a common name.)
So, for women hoping to take their future husband’s last name, it would be smart to snatch that url up as soon as possible. But what’s the protocol for that? Do you wait until you get the ring? But what if someone else snatches it up before you?
On the other hand, if you’re the proactive sort, there could be opposite problems. The relationship could go sour and you could be left owning a vanity url that you’ll never need – and worse yet, one that reminds you of your heartbreak. (You could even end up with more than one!)
And, what if you buy the url early in the relationship and your significant other finds out? Many guys are skittish enough about settling down. How do you think they’d react to learning that you’re trying to assure your future personal brand-ability by buying yourmarriedname.com after a great first date?
There are other issues too: what if your future husband has such a common name that 400 other women ended up having the same name as you do? (Due to Murphy’s Law, at least one of them is guaranteed to be a swimsuit model or porn star, by the way.) You could struggle for years to get your name close to the top of the search engines – and still fail.
What if your husband’s name is something complicated like Csíkszentmihályi? No one will EVER be able to find you online! (Or introduce you properly at a conference.) As compensation though, you’ll probably have no trouble getting the vanity url.
If you’re doing personal branding, taking your husband’s last name is no longer the simple decision it used to be. And keeping your name is no longer a feminist statement. It’s now about your personal brand – how much you’ve already invested, how much you’re willing to redo, and where you want to go in the future.
Katie Konrath writes about “ideas so fresh… they should be slapped” at getFreshMinds.com, a top innovation blog.