December 30, 2020
For over a decade, my brand name and tone gave the impression that my business was bigger and, therefore, better than it actually was. Now my approach is different and I want to enter this new stage of my business, putting my name on the work that I do.
There might be nothing more cliché than “New Year, New Me” scenarios, but having spent the end of 2020, a very complicated year for all of us, considering ethical marketing and ethical business practices, I felt it was important for me to turn my eyes on to myself.
It wasn’t just that some of my clients were pushing to use any available tactic to get the numbers and sales they wanted. Nor that I was complying with these requests. It was that I was using some tactics that were not honest, and even manipulative, myself.
When I started my business, I was a solopreneur on the go, moving from one country to the next, living in Europe as a Latin American immigrant and fresh out of school with a handful of clients from my freelancing days. For the first time in my life in my early 20s, I was facing discrimination and aggression as I heard all the stereotypes and slurs that come with being Latin in Europe on the semi regular. Even if it was “complimentary” by saying things like “I’m impressed with your work, it doesn’t look like someone from your country did it”.
I wish I could say otherwise, but sadly back then I lacked the emotional maturity to stand up to those remarks, to speak up for myself and where I’m from and to work to correct those stereotypes rather than let them mine my confidence and self worth. So when the time came to set up my business, formally, I used a name that would both disguise mine and validate me through the perception of being bigger than I was.
I chose the name Bird Blue Design, and operated under that business name, using all the tactics that the hundreds of listicles I read back then assured me would make me seem serious and trustworthy:
- Choose a name in English, it sounds international
- Use the royal we in your copy, that way it sounds like you have employees and a big team.
- Change your invoice number to start in the triple digits, so it looks like you have a trajectory.
- Respond to emails and phone calls as if you were your assistant (that one felt so ridiculous I never properly followed through).
- Get an online PBX to have your clients dial an extension number or go through the menu, even if they’re all coming to your cell phone anyway.
- Get a virtual address in a fancy neighborhood, so people assume you have an expensive office.
Did it work? I have no idea. I think ultimately, no matter how many screens you put up, the truth always shows through. Especially when you’re an over-sharer like me.
Maybe all those gimmicks got some clients through the door who wouldn’t have even considered me otherwise and, by getting rid of the pantomime, I’m going to miss out on those opportunities. And maybe that is absolutely fine.
This is not to say that any solopreneur that chooses to not use their name throughout their communications is being manipulative. For me specifically, it was an attempt to hide myself. I did it to spare my clients the difficulty of trying to pronounce my name, to avoid the awkwardness of not being able to fit two last names into forms. I was trying to present myself differently and detach myself from where I’m from and all that comes with it.
Which is why, starting this year with a new brand and an alternative approach featuring my name became so important to me. You will see my mission in my logo and my communications, doing well & good reflects want to do and achieve for myself, my collaborators and my clients, and having my name on everything I do.
I want to work with people who know that bigger isn’t always better, and see the fact that I’m a solopreneur as an asset. People who understand the dedication and personal responsibility that I bring to every project I am involved with. People who see me putting my name on everything I do as a testament to my commitment.
I want to clarify that I don’t do everything by myself. I have amazing collaborators who jump in as freelancers or partners for specific projects. Their help is pivotal to my success. I will acknowledge them and sharing their names on the projects where we collaborate. That being said, expect to see a lot more of me and my name in my communications, my work and my branding. Maria Arango Kure.