If you’re serious about building your brand on Instagram, you know that one of the most important steps in attracting a following is to have a catchy, appealing, and above all memorable username. The username sets the tone for your entire account and the community you want to build around it. Your username might be silly, whimsical, serious, or edgy – just like you. The right username will grab people’s attention and draw them in. The perfect username will also pair nicely with your account and its content. So how do you find a username that’s catchy, cool, creative, and totally true to you?
Also see our article The Statistical Best Time to Post on Instagram
Things to Consider Before You Get Started
Before you start brainstorming a list of ideal monikers, ask yourself a few key questions to help ensure that the name you choose is the right fit. An ounce of planning can save you a ton of trouble down the line.
- Am I being true to myself? Obviously, if you’re agonizing over names, then you’re not planning to use your own. However, you can still be true to yourself and the image you want to project by selecting a name that is reflective of you and your personality. If your name is completely out of left field and doesn’t match the tone or content of your account, it will seem disingenuous and rub potential followers the wrong way. Nobody wants to look at thoughtful landscape collages by GanjaGangsta420Killa.
- Is my chosen name offensive? You can avoid offending people by leaving out a few well-known words. However, your name may be more subtly offensive if it unknowingly uses certain kinds of slang or evokes certain types of images. Make sure you know what your name means before you make it official – Google it and hit up UrbanDictionary.com while you’re at it.
- Does my name reflect my feed? This is a lot like the first question. However, it warrants its own bullet point. Obviously, if you name yourself “Colonel Catz,” you don’t have to only post pictures of cats. Don’t take it too literally. Instead, think of the feeling that your name evokes and judge that against your feed. If your name is silly and whimsical, then your feed should be silly and whimsical. Try to make it feel cohesive.
- What do other people think of it? Ask around among your friends and among some strangers. Perhaps you think your name sounds edgy, but lots of other people think it’s juvenile. It’s a good idea to sanity test the name by letting other people get a look at it before you commit.
Remember that this is a decision that isn’t easily changed. The last thing you want is to develop a solid following and then decide that the name just isn’t quite right and have to effectively start over with a new account.
Tips for Making a Memorable Name
Now, that you know what to aim for, it’s time to think about the nitty-gritty details of name creation. After all, we’re not all Shakespeare and sometimes our creativity needs a little boost. Consider some of the following tips for making a name that sings.
- Titles. Examples: Colonel, Queen, Sargent, Doctor, Professor, Sir.
- Alliteration. Examples: Colonel Catz, Doctor DJ, Professor Puff.
- Be weird (string unrelated words together). Examples: Perfunctory Brain Muffins, Submarine Dance Warning, Alien Tu-Tu.
- Phrases. Examples: I’ve Got Sunshine, Let’s Run Away, Welcome to (your name)ville.
- Puns. Examples: Latte Love (lot of love), Grand Theft Otter (Grand Theft Auto). Bonus points if you can make a pun with your name.
- References (tie in some pop culture). Examples: Like a Brick House (song title), The Great Catsby (pun on a book title), Here’s Johnny (movie line).
- Nouns and verbs together. Examples: Lemmings Run!, Racing Turtle, Big Kids Cry.
- Less is more! Examples: Madonna (well, this one is already taken, but you get the idea).
Whatever you choose, try to make it easy to read. Names that are easier to read are easier to remember. You should also try combining some of the above principles to create names that are twice or thrice as unique.
- Splinter is Coming (uses a pun and two references).
- Captain Caruso (uses a title, alliteration, and a reference).
- Slytherin Around Town (uses a pun, a phrase, and a reference).
- Jetson Jellyfish Unite (uses alliteration, randomness, a reference, and a phrase).
Getting Around Unavailable Names
If you’ve thought of the perfect name, but are disappointed to learn that someone else thought of it first, fret not. Here are a few tips for adjusting your name to get it accepted by Instagram.
- Add a dot in the middle of the name.
- Add an underscore or hyphen between two or more words in the name.
- Slightly misspell a word in the name (try to do this in a way that feels intentional).
- Add numbers (preferably some that are meaningful and add to the name instead of looking like they were just tacked on).
Once your name is finally set in stone, it’s time to find the perfect profile picture to compliment it.