Jobs, Wozniak, and Wayne Inc.

That could have been the name of Apple if the founders had opted to name their business after themselves. Instead, they picked Apple, inspired by Steve Jobs’ trip to an orchard and a desire to use a friendly word for the innovative tech company.

But many content entrepreneurs have a naming challenge that Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne didn’t. Your content business is closely tied to your personal brand. Your content tilt may be how you’re living your life. Or you may be the face of your content business’ YouTube channel. Or perhaps you are evolving your influencer accounts into a full-fledged content business.

Content creators have a business naming challenge that most entrepreneurs don't have. Your #ContentBusienss often is tied closely to your personal brand, says @AnnGynn. #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet

So before you get to the fun (and sometimes daunting) task of choosing your content business name, you must first decide whether to make your personal and content brand the same thing or use a different name for your content brand.

Answer this question before naming your content business

To determine that, you must ask the question: Where do I see this business going in the long term?

Yes, you need to know your exit strategy.

“There is no one right way. You can succeed either way. But strategy and long-term thinking matter,” says Joe Pulizzi, founder of The Tilt.

Strategy and long-term thinking matter when you name your #ContentBusiness, says #Entrepreneur @JoePulizzi. #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet

Joe knows of which he speaks. He has built a combined audience of 500K under his personal brand on social media. He also has built a content brand that he sold for millions to a global conglomerate and launched this new content brand about a year ago.

So I’ll share more of what Joe thinks:

“There are many content entrepreneurs I respect that believe the name of the person is the greatest way to build a community today,” he says. “And there are great examples of this working well, such as MrBeast (given name Jimmy Donaldson) and GaryVee (given name Gary Vaynerchuk).”

And there’s nothing wrong with building your content brand as an individual brand. “I’ve done that with Joe Pulizzi, and it has served me well,” he says. “If I had no exit strategy and wanted to build a lifestyle business, then Joe Pulizzi training, Joe Pulizzi’s blog, Joe Pulizzi’s social token all work just fine. 

“But I believe that most creators actually want to exit at some point … they just don’t know how to do it when their name is intrinsic to the business.”

Name your content business with strategy in mind

Joe says a content creator should set your content business strategy before or at the same time you name it.

“Look at MrBeast. He has a large following, but he has set up his burger chain, MrBeast Burger, in a way that he could sell it off if he wishes to. Same thing with GaryVee. Gary has created Vayner Media and Vayner Sports, but these are separate entities that can be sold off if the day would ever come. They can exist without Gary,” Joe explains.

Interestingly, YouTube content entrepreneur Miles Becker made news last year when he announced he would stop posting new videos after almost five years on his self-titled channel. He had grown his audience to over 184K and brought in over $1M in revenue. If his channel hadn’t been his name, might he have wanted to sell the channel to another entrepreneur or even a corporate brand? Instead, he’s returned to posting videos on his channel on the platform.

Plan for content business expansion

Back to Joe’s story: “When we first launched Content Marketing Institute, I was very tied into every part of the business. The plan was to slowly pull me back and give other people the spotlight, so the audience didn’t just think of Joe when they went to CMI.”

It worked because Joe was able to exit the CMI business with a sale to a global company in 2016.

@JoePulizzi has built his personal brand audience to over 500K. Yet, he never uses his name for his businesses because he wants them to be bigger than one person. #CreatorEconomy #ContentEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

A year ago, Joe launched The Tilt, which now encompasses the newsletter, online courses, Discord community, and a social token. Once again, he eschewed using his name as the brand. “It may very well have been easier to just name everything Joe Pulizzi – my initiative, my strategy, my personal brand. At the start, it would probably be easier since my brand already means something to some people.

“But long term, building a new, separate brand has more staying power and gives me more options as a content entrepreneur. It also helps with burnout. YouTube creators, where it is just them, come very close to burnout because they often have to share their entire lives. I don’t have that issue with The Tilt because I am not The Tilt.”

One more naming thing

Often, content creators launch their personal brand before they ever realize they could launch a content brand. If that’s you – and you want to grow a business with its own identity – it’s not too late to evolve your content brand. Slowly integrate your new content brand name into your personal brand content and promotion. Continue using the name you’re currently known for a while, adding in your content business name, too. As the business brand grows, you can minimize the mentions of your individual brand.

About the author

Ann regularly combines words and strategy for B2B, B2C, and nonprofits, continuing to live up to her high school nickname, Editor Ann. An IABC Communicator of the Year and founder of G Force Communication, Ann coaches and trains professionals in all things content. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.