What’s In a Name?

what's in a name Last week, people questioned my journalistic integrity. I’m not a journalist. I am a reporter, insofar as I report. Often times, I’m called a consultant, but I prefer advisor. I sometimes win awards for marketing, but I grapple with saying that I’m a marketer. Through my efforts, I perform roles sometimes given to PR professionals, and other times I do what marketers and sales people do.

I’m president of my company, but I’m also a salesman. I’m president of my company, but I run a pirate ship. I’m a publisher, a writer, a blogger, an author, a videoblogger, a podcaster, a conference organizer, a community developer, a leader, a servant, a participant, a speaker, and many other things.

You worry about names. You think long and hard about titles. You put boxes around what you’re doing, if that suits you.

I’ll be over here just doing. Thinking, planning, doing, and observing my results.

What’s your name? How are you defining yourself? Better still (or worse), how does the name for what you do limit what you do?

Photo credit Jack Dorsey

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  • http://blogs.parentcenter.babycenter.com/momformation/author/jamie-lee/ Jamie Lee

    Linked over from Darren Rowse’s tweet. So glad.
    I, too, am unaware of any incident to which this post may be a response, but – like Darren – your line about just doing vs putting boxes around things really resonates with me. I am a project manager and writer by trade – both things typically require much forethought and many “boxes,” but this year I’m anxious to disentangle from hyper-organization and do a little more jumping into the fray – learning from actual experience instead of analyzing on the sidelines.
    It’s an exciting prospect! Glad to have your blog to help inspire my journey.

  • http://blogs.parentcenter.babycenter.com/momformation/author/jamie-lee/ Jamie Lee

    Linked over from Darren Rowse’s tweet. So glad.
    I, too, am unaware of any incident to which this post may be a response, but – like Darren – your line about just doing vs putting boxes around things really resonates with me. I am a project manager and writer by trade – both things typically require much forethought and many “boxes,” but this year I’m anxious to disentangle from hyper-organization and do a little more jumping into the fray – learning from actual experience instead of analyzing on the sidelines.
    It’s an exciting prospect! Glad to have your blog to help inspire my journey.

  • http://www.charleslau.com Charles Lau

    A name can really restrict what you are doing and who you are. Some people will call themselves an expert in twitter. But these people can also be an expert in blogging. And when they are outside, they might be also an expert in driving or whatever. Well, it’s true but we still need a name. It’s like a brand to a person.

    I define myself as an Internet reviewer. But this word can mean so many things. I can be reviewing websites. I can be reviewing mobile internet. I can even be reviewing servers and networks. Though I have some background in computer networking, I would like to define more towards a website reviewer. But who will really understand what that can mean in another way?

  • http://www.charleslau.com Charles Lau

    A name can really restrict what you are doing and who you are. Some people will call themselves an expert in twitter. But these people can also be an expert in blogging. And when they are outside, they might be also an expert in driving or whatever. Well, it’s true but we still need a name. It’s like a brand to a person.

    I define myself as an Internet reviewer. But this word can mean so many things. I can be reviewing websites. I can be reviewing mobile internet. I can even be reviewing servers and networks. Though I have some background in computer networking, I would like to define more towards a website reviewer. But who will really understand what that can mean in another way?

  • http://nickyjameson.com Nicky Jameson

    @charles Lau – that’s why, when someone asks “what do you do?” rather than saying “I’m a Copywriter” or “I’m a ” fill in the blank” I prefer to say something like “I help businesses to sell their services, increase sales and boost their profits…”
    Then, when they “Really? How?” I expand by telling an illustrative story ;) I sometimes don’t even need to mention my title at all. Also, you would be amazed how many mistake “Copywriting” for “Copyrighting”.

  • http://nickyjameson.com Nicky Jameson

    @charles Lau – that’s why, when someone asks “what do you do?” rather than saying “I’m a Copywriter” or “I’m a ” fill in the blank” I prefer to say something like “I help businesses to sell their services, increase sales and boost their profits…”
    Then, when they “Really? How?” I expand by telling an illustrative story ;) I sometimes don’t even need to mention my title at all. Also, you would be amazed how many mistake “Copywriting” for “Copyrighting”.

  • http://babyfruit.typepad.com aliza sherman

    I agree about doing. But for those of us who consult as part of our “doing,” the rest of the world sadly needs names or labels – not to box us in necessarily, but to understand what the hell we do.

    This used to be one thing I hated about the music industry when I was working with bands. A new band would come out (Nirvana, for instance) and people would insist on knowing what kind of music they played. Then every new band after would be defined by Nirvana standards, using Nirvana’s name when describing other bands’ music. “Like a cross between the B52s and Nirvana.”

    Ultimately, the bands felt boxed in and resented the labeling, but without it, the band couldn’t sell it to the manager & the manager couldn’t sell it to the A&R guy who couldn’t sell it to the label and the label couldn’t sell it to the public.

    When the public is not “in the know,” they need to know what to call something. Or someone.

    I change my label for my audience. I may be a writer one moment, a social media consultant the next, a podcaster, an aspiring documentary filmmaker, a Second Lifer, a mom. A wife. (Whoa, that last one still feels odd to this late bloomer).

    I’d rather come up with my own labels, however, than have others thrust them on me and have still others view me or judge me by those inaccurate names rather than the ones I give myself.

  • http://babyfruit.typepad.com aliza sherman

    I agree about doing. But for those of us who consult as part of our “doing,” the rest of the world sadly needs names or labels – not to box us in necessarily, but to understand what the hell we do.

    This used to be one thing I hated about the music industry when I was working with bands. A new band would come out (Nirvana, for instance) and people would insist on knowing what kind of music they played. Then every new band after would be defined by Nirvana standards, using Nirvana’s name when describing other bands’ music. “Like a cross between the B52s and Nirvana.”

    Ultimately, the bands felt boxed in and resented the labeling, but without it, the band couldn’t sell it to the manager & the manager couldn’t sell it to the A&R guy who couldn’t sell it to the label and the label couldn’t sell it to the public.

    When the public is not “in the know,” they need to know what to call something. Or someone.

    I change my label for my audience. I may be a writer one moment, a social media consultant the next, a podcaster, an aspiring documentary filmmaker, a Second Lifer, a mom. A wife. (Whoa, that last one still feels odd to this late bloomer).

    I’d rather come up with my own labels, however, than have others thrust them on me and have still others view me or judge me by those inaccurate names rather than the ones I give myself.

  • http://www.charleslau.com Charles Lau

    @aliza sherman it’s true. It’s about the consistency of a brand. A band is just like a brand which represents certain communication to millions of people out there. I won’t want to hear a band singing another type of song when i’m expecting them to sing certain type of song. Likewise, i don’t want to buy a bmw with a toyota kind of communication. Well, i don’t mind the other way round. :)
    I guess it’s about maintaining your brand or to exceed your brand’s expectation.
    But here i believe we’re talking about a name tied to a person. A person can have many names. That’s where i feel @nicky jameson is right about using description instead.

  • http://www.charleslau.com Charles Lau

    @aliza sherman it’s true. It’s about the consistency of a brand. A band is just like a brand which represents certain communication to millions of people out there. I won’t want to hear a band singing another type of song when i’m expecting them to sing certain type of song. Likewise, i don’t want to buy a bmw with a toyota kind of communication. Well, i don’t mind the other way round. :)
    I guess it’s about maintaining your brand or to exceed your brand’s expectation.
    But here i believe we’re talking about a name tied to a person. A person can have many names. That’s where i feel @nicky jameson is right about using description instead.

  • http://www.dutchsalesblog.nl Arno Diepeveen

    xsellerator

  • http://www.dutchsalesblog.nl Arno Diepeveen

    xsellerator

  • http://progressblog.com Lech

    Where I come from, only select few can follow the I-don’t-care-about-labels attitude successfully. The rest requires a label to differentiate themselves and their services from the “gray mass,” and to affiliate with a group of professionals (e.g. to share information & knowledge). “Doctors,” “lawyers,” “project managers”… that’s meaningful stuff. Such labels support any first impression we want to make and help us connect with others. Our profession or title is often our stake. A public person’s name plays a similar role, albeit in different conditions. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater, please :-)

    Cheers!

  • http://progressblog.com Lech

    Where I come from, only select few can follow the I-don’t-care-about-labels attitude successfully. The rest requires a label to differentiate themselves and their services from the “gray mass,” and to affiliate with a group of professionals (e.g. to share information & knowledge). “Doctors,” “lawyers,” “project managers”… that’s meaningful stuff. Such labels support any first impression we want to make and help us connect with others. Our profession or title is often our stake. A public person’s name plays a similar role, albeit in different conditions. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater, please :-)

    Cheers!

  • http://www.flipsem.com Flipsem

    Your post has reminded me of a story. Many years ago, I was made redundant from a global telecoms company. I ran the creative studio. This company had decided to cut the payroll and outsource specialist departments. Ironically, they still wanted to use me. So I was offered the contract to produce all marketing materials for Europe Middle East and Africa.

    Obviously blown away by this offer I bit their arm off. My next problem was how on earth could one man service and keep this contract without falling over big time.

    I knew a local agency that already had all the resources available so in the short term I could tap into them for back up. I was not prepared to divulge my client name to this agency until we had an agreement in writing. All I wanted to support from them to cover the potential massive influx of business.

    During a meeting with this agency they were more concerned with the role and tile I was going to use, account director, or creative director. When I said I would be doing both roles and they would offer support as and when needed. They said I would need to decide either I was either one or the other.

    Dismayed by their attention to tiles and not just getting on with the job. I told the “business development director” I was no longer interested in working with them and cut the meeting short.

    One year later, this agency went bust. During that year I had decided to hire in the help I needed and we turned over just under half a million pounds in just one year.

    Who cares what we are called as long as we get the job done.

    Thank you for your post and reminding me of my story.

  • http://www.flipsem.com Flipsem

    Your post has reminded me of a story. Many years ago, I was made redundant from a global telecoms company. I ran the creative studio. This company had decided to cut the payroll and outsource specialist departments. Ironically, they still wanted to use me. So I was offered the contract to produce all marketing materials for Europe Middle East and Africa.

    Obviously blown away by this offer I bit their arm off. My next problem was how on earth could one man service and keep this contract without falling over big time.

    I knew a local agency that already had all the resources available so in the short term I could tap into them for back up. I was not prepared to divulge my client name to this agency until we had an agreement in writing. All I wanted to support from them to cover the potential massive influx of business.

    During a meeting with this agency they were more concerned with the role and tile I was going to use, account director, or creative director. When I said I would be doing both roles and they would offer support as and when needed. They said I would need to decide either I was either one or the other.

    Dismayed by their attention to tiles and not just getting on with the job. I told the “business development director” I was no longer interested in working with them and cut the meeting short.

    One year later, this agency went bust. During that year I had decided to hire in the help I needed and we turned over just under half a million pounds in just one year.

    Who cares what we are called as long as we get the job done.

    Thank you for your post and reminding me of my story.

  • http://www.twitter.com/gabrielrossi Gabriel Rossi

    Prospects do care about what we are called because they have too many choices to consider. Isn’t time a precious thing nowadays? We need shortcuts!

    The ideal name starts the positioning process, sets up a communications premise and links directly to a selling proposition. A good name is different, easy to spell, easy to pronounce, a springboard to good graphics and advertising, brief (no more than four syllables), appropriate (but not merely descriptive), and legally defensible

    Furthermore, we (humans) tend to do business to whom we trust and admire. In this case, trust is directely related to specialization. You can only communicate your focus by transmitting consistent branding signals. The name of your brand is one of them.

    Surely, there’s a lot of importance in a name.

  • http://www.twitter.com/gabrielrossi Gabriel Rossi

    Prospects do care about what we are called because they have too many choices to consider. Isn’t time a precious thing nowadays? We need shortcuts!

    The ideal name starts the positioning process, sets up a communications premise and links directly to a selling proposition. A good name is different, easy to spell, easy to pronounce, a springboard to good graphics and advertising, brief (no more than four syllables), appropriate (but not merely descriptive), and legally defensible

    Furthermore, we (humans) tend to do business to whom we trust and admire. In this case, trust is directely related to specialization. You can only communicate your focus by transmitting consistent branding signals. The name of your brand is one of them.

    Surely, there’s a lot of importance in a name.

  • http://www.name.com Rick

    I wear many hats in my office as well. I don’t think I would have it any other way. Knowing you have a job to do is great, however having many jobs to do – along side the ability to develop ideas and create new projects – is my preferred way to work.

    Great post.

  • http://www.name.com Rick

    I wear many hats in my office as well. I don’t think I would have it any other way. Knowing you have a job to do is great, however having many jobs to do – along side the ability to develop ideas and create new projects – is my preferred way to work.

    Great post.

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  • http://how2makemoneyathomeonline.blogspot.com/ dls

    I’ve been reading all the posts & comments & have been trying to come up with something like that myself without much success. How about this for answering the question; I’m a
    blogging income entrepreneur.

    Meaning I write & find affiliate/business ways to
    make money online while blogging.

  • http://how2makemoneyathomeonline.blogspot.com/ dls

    I’ve been reading all the posts & comments & have been trying to come up with something like that myself without much success. How about this for answering the question; I’m a
    blogging income entrepreneur.

    Meaning I write & find affiliate/business ways to
    make money online while blogging.

  • http://www.clickroutes.com/ SEO company Buckinghamshire

    If you run a small business then you need to be a 'jack of all trades' and there is no single title that will represent this. Titles conjure up a variety of images and if you are unable to communicate well and form relationships with potential clients then no matter what the title, you'll not gain their respect and will not win their business!

  • http://www.clickroutes.com/ SEO company Buckinghamshire

    If you run a small business then you need to be a 'jack of all trades' and there is no single title that will represent this. Titles conjure up a variety of images and if you are unable to communicate well and form relationships with potential clients then no matter what the title, you'll not gain their respect and will not win their business!

  • http://www.yuregininsesi.com sesli chat

    Your post has reminded me of a story. Many years ago, I was made redundant from a global telecoms company. I ran the creative studio. This company had decided to cut the payroll and outsource specialist departments. Ironically, they still wanted to use me. So I was offered the contract to produce all marketing materials for Europe Middle East and Africa.