In the world of personal branding, the emphasis on branding your name is understandably strong. One of the first steps to branding yourself online is always to snag your name’s URL – or the closest substitute you can find. To market yourself, your brand name, online, your best bet is to write, and comment, under your name as often and as broadly as possible. Online identity calculators can determine how big your brand is, how effectively your name is representing you across a multitude of popular pages.

Name, name, name, of course, is synonymous with “brand” in the personal branding lexicon, so it makes great sense.

Until, of course, you decide to go do something crazy like, say – change your name.

When I started blogging and stumbled into the world of personal branding, I never dreamed all of this would make much difference to me whatsoever, much less impact my real life decision of whether or not to keep my maiden name when I got married nearly a year later. Then, I was struggling with whether or not just to blog under my full name.

But here I am, two years into this, looking back at the strange journey that’s led me to a place where I function under a somewhat lopsided identity, fully functioning under my maiden name for work and online and under my married name “at home” – which really means at church and on holiday cards, I guess, when I really think about it.

It may sound odd, but really, I can’t tell you I’d do anything differently.

It took a long, hard time getting used Monhollon, as a name. I’d finally come around to appreciating its uniqueness, as a writer, and there I was, contemplating leaving it behind.

And let me tell you. I thought about it. We talked about it. Hashed and rehashed it. The great debate. Should I change my name? Hyphenate? Leave it the same? Oh, so many thoughts and worries and unknowns. Concerned looks from confused friends. Awkward introductions.

When I think about it now, it’s when I’m counting syllables on my fingers on the drive home from work. No hyphenated guest expert on NPR has yet to tie my new nine syllables, and I think I’m coming to a place where I can embrace that, too.

That’s the thing about it, I guess. A question that burned so strong in my mind, now seems so simple.

When it comes down to it, your name is your name. However much of it you want to use or keep or change. There’s nothing to fear in embracing it. Now, or ever.

I had to realize that having someone worth thinking about changing my name over also meant being lucky enough to have someone who already accepted all of me.

First name, last name, and whatever I chose to do with the rest.

Your Turn

What do you think about women, personal branding, and the name debate? Single gals, what do you think about the name change tradition in our culture? Guys, could you handle it if your wife didn’t change her name to yours? Anybody know examples of where this has gone well, or horribly wrong?

Men and women, please chime in and share your thoughts in the comments section! I’ll be waiting to talk it out.

This post was originally published in Personal Branding Magazine. You can snag a free sample of the latest edition here.