Can I Have 1 Business Name if I Have 2 Different Audiences?


Welcome to Episode 2 of #AskAnnie, my Facebook live web series on common branding questions.

You can watch the video episode below or read on for the transcript version. Like our Facebook page to catch these broadcasts live!


Every month, I'm hosting #AskAnnie to answer some of the most common branding questions that I get and this month is no exception. Today's question is actually one I've received from several people.


So can you have a business with one name but different audiences, services or both? If you do - how does that work from a branding perspective?


So what does that mean? How do I brand myself if I have multiple audiences that are trying to reach, maybe I have very different services. Can all that live under one business name? That's what we're going to consider today.

Maybe you have a business called Beautiful Day Event Planning and what you do is wedding planning for brides and couples, maybe event planning as well. But maybe you want to start a different component to that and you want to start something like Beautiful Day Consulting. You want to teach other people how to become event planners because you've become so successful at it.


So the question is, can you have a business like this where you have different segments and how does that work from a branding perspective?


Today I want to introduce a couple considerations. If you're thinking that you want to market and reach two very different audiences, with different services, how can that live together or should it live together?

So really the question is, should it be one business name or two? Or really should it be one business or two businesses? Here are four questions you want to consider as you're trying to figure out how you should position these things and how they should be organized.


Are your services related closely enough?

In the example that I just gave you, it's good one because event planning and event planners are very related. They're sort of in the same world. They do have a different audience, but you also might have situations where you have a bride who loved planning their wedding and who wants to become an event planner. So, in this case, Beautiful Day could have a consulting arm and an event planning arm. Obviously, one is going to have to come up to the other, but we're gonna talk about that in just a second.

Now, if you have very different services for example, if you are serving business owners as a virtual assistant and you are doing event planning those things are very different. And they are not very well related. So it can be much harder for you to brand yourself and tell a consistent story without sort of looking like you're a flake and that you can't focus on certain things. We don't want to do that, especially as small business owners.

But you want to consider how different are the two audiences that you're reaching? How different are the services and will be confusing to people? Will they not be able to live harmoniously on maybe one website or one business card? That's something you want to consider if you are thinking of keeping one business name for two very different services or very different audiences.


Are you ever going to sell part or all of the business?

If you think that you might ultimately become, say a consultant to event planners, but you might sell your event planning business, you might want to separate those out and maybe put the consulting under your own name or a consulting firm name, because you know that one day you're going to split them. So you don't want to build up all this equity in both and then only keep a chunk of one. That's going to be much harder to split. And if you have partners involved it just gets a little bit messy. So if you think you might exit one part of the company, you might want to consider making them separate for that reason.


Are both sides equally important?

So maybe they are related. Maybe you don't want to sell the business, so you can keep them together. Maybe you only want to do a little bit of consulting on the side and you mostly do the event planning. Or you mostly do whatever the main focus is and you have a sort of side area. I think that's fine. In situations like that, it doesn't make sense to put a lot of energy into creating two separate businesses and two separate business names. That's because it's just really there opportunistically. It doesn't require a lot of work on your part to say, "Hey, by the way I also consult" for example. But it has to pass these tests of do I want to sell the business? Are my services related enough? This is something to consider, if they're not both primary goals for you that's a good thing. And you can keep it under one name because you're going to push toward one over the other.


Are you going to be more comfortable and successful if you split them into separate businesses?

A lot of people forget and start adding all these services to what they do and they don't realize that to be successful, especially when you have two very different audiences you are trying to reach, two different audiences in many cases means that you're having to create two different marketing plans and campaigns. You're having to reach them very differently. You're having to  create a brand that can be flexible enough to reach both. Which means it's less specific and less targeted, which we always wanna be as targeted as we possibly can. So you're sort of spreading yourself really thin in that case, so you may wanna consider what would be the repercussions of having one business name and having to market to two very different audiences that could be confusing. It can be challenging if they aren't related to one another. It becomes very hard to tell the story, especially if you're trying to grow both at the same time and you don't want one to just be a sort of be opportunistic.

If you want one to be really successful and profitable, what I'm gonna recommend is that you separate them. It could be names like Beautiful Day Event Planning and Beautiful Day Consulting, but in those cases where you're not even changing the name, putting them on separate websites so that you can create separate marketing for them. I would recommend that you sort of split them apart, so that you can focus on them that way. But just be wary of this approach. It is tough to market two businesses. It's really hard just to market one business when you're a small business owner. The more that you spread yourself thin, the harder it is for you to be really successful with your marketing. Because what you're basically doing is creating your business into little, mini businesses that all require their own marketing plans.


Four ways to determine if your business should have one name:

  • Are your services closely related enough?
  • Might you sell the business?
  • Are both sides equally important?
  • And are you comfortable and maybe gonna be more successful if you split them into separate businesses?

If you want to learn more about naming that's my focus for this month. One of the fun things coming up in just about, I think it's next week hard to believe, is Branding with Annie. There's a webinar version and there's also a version live here in Raleigh-Durham that still has a few seats left.


Register for the free branding webinar here.

It's next Tuesday and Thursday of next week. So February 13th and February 15th. So whether you're naming a business, re-naming it, trying to name things within your business, it's going to be a great fit for you. I'd love for you to come. It's free.

I just want to say thanks again for watching Ask Annie and hope you have a great rest of your week. Here's to a great February for us all. Thanks so much you guys and have a good one.

Further reading on business naming and business structure: