your own name or a company name? whats better?

It`s better to work and be known as…

  • a company (IDEO, etc…)
  • a person, a designer (stefano giovanonni, etc…)

0 voters

Hi, I have a question for you designers and non-designers.

What do you think is better for an industrial designer, have a company name, like IDEO, froog, etc. and be known by that name and work as a company? - or is it better to be known by your own name? like philippe starck, stefano giovanonni, aldo rossi… and work as a person as a designer?

I think it is really important to decide this, and make the right choice!

PROs and CONs for this two options?

What companies trust the most? a company or a person (designer)?

what`s makes a company prouder, a producto designed by IDEO or a product designed by Phillipe Starck?

what`s best paid?

Well, I hope to read a lot of comments, thanks!

I think it depends on what you are looking to create.

A company name connotes more potential to live beyond the original creator, new partners can come in, the firm could be sold or passed on. It lends itself to a larger firm.

A personal name is just that, more personal. Few groups with a parson’s name have outlived their creator or grown to a size (Teague is the one I can think of off hand), but it does lend itself to a smaller, more nimble ship, and you get the credit for what you have created.

Hi YO, yes, you are right, so right.

Now that I think about what you wrote, a company can even help your citys or countrys economy, much more than a designer, a company can grow and have more designer working together, and for a great designer would not be nice to work for another designer who gets all the credits!!! if you work for a company is kinda better!

Ciao! (keep posting)

if your question is more about an individual career path, I think it depends on several things…

If it is a good company, that consistantly does excellent work… it is not bad to be known for working there. Frog, IDEO, Nike, Sony, Porshe, etc… they do great stuff, and the consultancies are know for good work on a variety of projects. That on your resume would get you an interview at lots of companies

If it is a design company that is second tier, or is known for some design styles that don’t have the mass market appeal (appearance wise), like IBM, Dell, engineering houses, etc… I thnk it is more important to show that you’re a creative individual and get some name recognition for yourself. Maybe contests, personal projects/products, etc…

IMHO If your really phenomenal, or very brave/stubborn, designer… your the one who becomes a Philippe Stark or Micheal Graves. Opportunities to design interesting things happen for you, or you make them happen at all costs, and then you do an amazing, attention grabbing job. Maybe afterwards you self promote the heck out of it and yourself…

but there is a ton of luck involved too - some of the big names were lucky enough to be taken under the wing of an already famous designer (Richard Sapper under Marko Zanuso) or studied under them (Marcel Breuer from the Bauhaus) or just had a chance at a very high profile project ( Erik Speikerman doing the Berlin Subway signage or Robert Brunner/Harmut Esslinger/Johnathan Ives doing Apple design). There are of course a ton of other stories…

Marketing aside, it depends on the kind of company you want to build and how central you are to what makes the company necessary or desireable to your customers.

It also depends on the name.

I also think it depends on your name! My name for example would suck because no one can pronounce it right. Plus, if it is a name of certain ethnicity, you might get faced with prejudism.

yeah, about how easy is your name it is true, in a global market we have to look for names thats easy pronouncing.
I really thin easy names are required for a global market.
My name would be confused cause its German Salamanca (and it has nothing to do with Germany!).

I am so glad to see this topic. This is a question I have been asking myself for some time.

My situation may be a little different however. I am currently employed by a mid sized consultancy. I have been fortunate to have a decent number of freelince/side jobs to work on outside of regular work hours. These freelance gigs have been picking up stem and I need to consider developing an identity to give my clients and potential clients the assurance that I am more than just an individual. I am looking to develop a web site, business cards and marketing material. My problem is that if my boss were to ever see this site he would be furious to see that I am creating my own side business. My initial thought would be to develop a name that is a dirrivitive of my name so if the topic ever comes up I can just say that it is my personal website and was developed for my own amusement. If I developed a corporate identity I don’t think I would be able to swing this excuse, but on the other hand, I would love to give my clients that impression that I am growing and am larger than just myself.

What are your thoughts?

how about an alias?

Interesting thought. I could build up a larger, more corporate identity and simply create an info@ email account. I would probably also want to consider a new telephone and fax number. I wouldn’t be able to place my name anywhere on the site, but I’m sure it’s not that big of a deal to my clients.

I have been having a difficult time with this decision. It is a big commitment either way.

Thanks for the thought.

Well I think that if you are not “competing” with the company you work for you shold not have any problem to have freelance jobs on your “free” time.

I think a good boss would see the positive side of having an employeed who wants to grow and have more experience, and that experience will benefit the company you work for… the problem could be if you start working harder on your side company and dont work as hard as you used to at your boss`s company…

Why dont you talk to your boss? For ex. my boss would not have any problem, he will only ask me to keep working hard for him and not to compete (in the bad way) with his company. no?

I hope you can make your own business grow! good luck.

definitely an intriguing question…

but I would have to say that a Porsche by any other name is still a Porsche.

Whatever ones ability and/or how many people work together well with a lead designer…these things are what inevitably define the marketing front…whether that be the name of the company or individual.

If you do your best work at IDEO, IDEO ultimately gets the recognition. If you do your best work for Starcke or whoever else, that person ultimately gets the recognition. Dale Chihuly, a glass designer definitely doesn’t blow all that glass himself, but he gets the glory. The car designers at Ford, named after Henry Ford, get little recognition. But there’s also the flip side of the coin as well. Although Henry Ford designed his cars specifically to aid the agricultural industry (corn-based fuel, soy and hemp-based plastic for body parts) he is just as responsible for the environmental damage that his cars contribute to each day. So, it goes to say, that the designers there at Ford have to shoulder that burden as well. Ahem, Hummer.

Personally, I’d like people to remember my name. The people who would work for me would share my ideals and abilities. Whatever is chosen though, it will be the ability of a designer that ultimately defines the name of a designer. The question is how do you define how you want to be remembered? By your name or an alias? That is your choice and will remain with you for as long as you live, and ideally, thereafter.

I bettled with this issue a while back and ultimately opted for a new firm name rather than use my own.

One of my primary reasons for choosing a “non-personal name” was so that my employees would feel that they were an integral part of the operation rather appearing to be just an assistant to me.

There are cases where you can have the best of both worlds - look at Yves Behar and Fuseproject - Equally well known as an indiviual and a firm.

Ultimately it’s a personal decision - pun intended I guess…

I agree Jerry, but whats a name anyway… maybe an example would be actors who make up screen names for themselves, and thats how they are nown, but their real names are different…

If I called myself Travisimo, which not many people are called ( I hope ), and if people recognized me as Travisimo by reputation… maybe its the same thing

Anyway, It seems like maybe some corp or consultancy designers might be able to make names for themselves within the industry… but maybe not to MIcheal Graves/Phillippe Stark celebrity. I’ve heard the name Tinker Hatfeild on this board or someone like Dieter Rams with Braun who became famous for being such a huge part of the brands they developed. If they started a company, no matter the name, designers would know their style work…

I like the idea about the both worlds… but it takes a while (long time) to make a name, for you and your company.

I wish I could have that when I`m on my 40s or so!


nice discussion! I have also thought out these things and in my opinion it is not forbidden to pursue all of your careers… you can work in a firm, have your own thing(s) and do it with your own name on the side. I am looking for nice freelance projects all the time, but still trying to earn a living while doing basework, marketing and promoting the other brands… …and doing a daily routine with the studies.

of course, the work load is massive and long hours needed… however, perhaps my own brands will take off some day and working for others will end… or vice versa, a really nice designer position catching me… if only had time to participate more competitions.

developing myself, building a few brands, trying to create nice network. three things now filling my schedule. (+the studies :angry: )

good luck to everyone!

good luck for you villey, I see you have everything just under control, I mean you know what you want and thats great!

To me, the person is what drives the company. In large firms, the person may get the recognition in-house, unles they own the company then recognition is two-fold. Legal-wise, go with company name for recognition. The company can survive on its own past the person.

And besides, design is an interactive experience!