My name is Melissa Chang. That seems like a simple statement, but it really isn’t if you dig a little deeper. Some of you may know, for instance, that my name used to be Melissa Reyen – after all, it wasn’t so long ago that I got married and decided to take my husband’s name.
But the decision to change my name wasn’t a simple one. I had some credits to my name (although small ones, admittedly). I also have a strong love for my family and pride in my family name. (The Reyen Clan often breaks into chants of “Reyen’s Rule” at family weddings, BBQs and just walking down the street – hey, I said that we were proud, not that we were cool!)
But my wedding day was a solid year before I started my business and this blog. If it wasn’t, I’m honestly not sure what I would have done because changing my name to Melissa Chang was not a good business move.
The reason for this was raised by Ryan Healy today in the Employee Evolution blog. His article is all about controlling your name as your personal brand and figuring out how to dominate Google searches for your name as a keyword. As you might guess, it was simple to be ranked first for the term Melissa Reyen. In fact, just by writing the name Melissa Reyen a few more times in this post, it is entirely possible that this post will become #1 in Google for the term Melissa Reyen.
But Melissa Chang is another story. In the U.S., Melissa is the 30th most popular first name and Chang is the 687th most popular last name. Expand the search to China, and Chang is the 5th most popular name. There are a lot of Melissa Chang’s out there, so it’s hard to stand out. I also don’t own the domain name www.melissachang.com, even though I own 500 other domains, including MadamChang.com (no, I’m not kidding).
Things are even trickier when it comes to managing my identity on social networking sites, especially when my user name is an important part of my profile. Mchang is never available; neither is melissachang. I usually end up going with mchang16, which is a combination of my name and my blog, but honestly isn’t very satisfactory.
But thankfully I didn’t think about all those issues when I was trying to decide if I should change my name. At the time I was more focused on leaving the name Melissa Reyen, which I was quite fond of, and wondering how many times people would make assumptions about me if I had the last name Chang. (Watch this clip from Seinfeld if you’re wondering what I’m talking about.)
Ultimately, I’m glad that I changed my name for all the reasons that mattered to me. But I’m very glad that I didn’t have to make the decision after I had spent time building my business and personal brand – because then things would have gotten complicated (although probably not as complicated as this).