The annoyance of a common name when it’s your brand

One of the best assets a writer has is their name. It’s a ready-made brand – an identity, and something uniquely theirs.

Check out what Kristen Lamb had to say about it on WordPress, a while back. Sensible stuff. Works, too.

Though sometimes it’s hard. For a brand to work, it has to be interesting. Different. Unique. And appropriate. Would anybody buy ‘Swamp Rot’ bed-time chocolate drink? Well, maybe for quirk value. But the popular names we know and love do better.

Translate that to writing and authors. People like Isaac Asimov were well set up in the interesting name-brand department. Others aren’t so fortunate. Take my case. There are two other Matthew Wrights publishing in New Zealand alone. One self-publishes poetry online. The other writes railway books. As do I, sometimes.

That’s quite apart from the 42 other Matthew Wrights who, the Chief Electoral Officer tells me, are on the electoral roll. How do I know? I rang up and asked.

New Zealand’s a tiny place – just over 4.1 million, which makes it smaller than Sydney or Boston. The sort of place where you can get through to the national Chief Electoral Officer first time, personally.

So when the net’s cast worldwide – yeah, you get it. And what do they do? There’s the Matthew Wright who publishes on PERL programming. The one publishing on Greek mythology. The one who writes on architecture. All get conflated with me. And I with them, of course.

Some authors have made names for themselves. Literally. Leonard Knapp did well as Lester del Rey. Frank Morrison picked Mickey Spillane. Howard O’Brien is better known to us today as Anne Rice. And so on. The possibilities, of course, are endless. Try ‘Hidung Basar’. Or maybe Vincent van Groteneus.

But I’ve got the name I was given. I’d rather use that. Initials are good – two for balance and rhythm. Worked for Joanne Rowling, and unlike her, I actually have a middle name (one coincidentally in the Wright family at least since 1828).

I wanted to name my blog “M J Wright”. But that was taken when I checked it out. Hey – I even knew another M J Wright in New Zealand, used to do martial arts with him. Hence “MJWrightNZ”.

Does anybody else who writes also have a really common name? How do you handle it? Do tell.

Oh – and this week’s music to write to? Lacuna Coil. Acoustic.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2011

2 thoughts on “The annoyance of a common name when it’s your brand

  1. The name alone is only one part of the brand. Sandra Brown and Dan Brown are rather boring names that I am certain are shared by thousands of others. What makes a name more than a name is the content and then feeling associated with the name and the content.

    Name + Content + Fluffy Feelings (We dig the content) = Brand

    Thirty years ago, Stephen King was just some weird kid who wrote creepy stories in his free time. Over time, though, King produced enough content that his name has become synonymous with horror. So don’t worry about the name thing. Just focus on great content and interacting with others on social media in a positive way. If you do those two things? You will be the only Matthew Wright we see ;).

    Thanks for the shout-out!


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