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  • Writer's pictureNorteyrazzi

Don’t Let Your Photography Brand Die With You

(Watch the YouTube video of this blog post above)

In the creative world, brand names can carry significant weight. Being known by just your first name, like Beyonce or Zendaya, is often seen as the pinnacle of success. Whereas with street artists and the Hip-Hop community, it is popular for creatives to use unique nicknames to make themselves stand out in a crowded market.

However, Dame Dash the co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records alongside Jay-Z challenges this view with a powerful statement: "I hustle for my last name, I don’t hustle for my first." This statement hits home deeply for photography brands. Why? Because your last name is more than just a label... it's your legacy. It's about building something that lasts, something that goes beyond just you and can be handed down to future generations.

The Power of a Last Name

Away from photography, I'm deeply interested in the property market. From property development to ownership I love learning about the industry. Through my research, one name keeps coming up in London's real estate scene: Grosvenor. This family's legacy is more than just owning land, it’s about building a lasting legacy through intelligent property management.

The Grosvenor family started their journey in real estate in the 17th century when Sir Thomas Grosvenor married Mary Davies. Her marriage brought with it 500 acres of wet, swampy land and grassy fields located just outside the western edge of London at that time. This land was carefully developed over hundreds of years into what are now some of London’s most prestigious areas... Mayfair and Belgravia.

Over the years, the Grosvenor family didn’t just build properties, they created luxurious and exclusive environments that set standards in city development and architectural design.

Today, led by The Duke of Westminster Hugh Grosvenor, the Grosvenor Group manages their wealth of property both globally and in the UK. The Grosvenor name has become synonymous with wealth, control, and power in real estate, recognised worldwide. They are known for significantly enhancing whole neighbourhoods and boosting the value and impact of their brand.

The Grosvenor family shows how a last name can extend beyond simple property ownership to include stewardship of heritage and luxury in real estate. Their story demonstrates that a well-established family name can become a powerful brand, symbolising prosperity, authority, and enduring influence in any particular industry.

The Weight of a Last Name

Rockefeller, Rothschild, Ford, Trump, Kennedy, Versace, Ferrari, Hilton, Disney, the Kardashians… What comes to mind when these surnames are mentioned?

Each of these last names is powerful within their industries, be it finance, real estate, entertainment, or fashion. Just hearing these names makes people think of wealth, influence, and big business empires. These families haven't just built successful businesses, they've also created lasting legacies that can be passed down to future generations.

Interestingly, if you try to name the individual members of these families, you might find it difficult. This shows how memorable and impactful their last names are compared to their first names.

In contrast, in the world of entertainment, being known by just a first name or a nickname is often seen as a hallmark of success. Celebrities like Rihanna, Jay Z, Adele, Drake, Dr. Dre, Shakira, 50 Cent, Prince, Oprah, and Madonna have built impressive careers and personal brands using their first names or stage names. While these names carry immense recognition and commercial success, they don't carry the same legacy potential that last names do.

Try this quick test: list the last names of the celebrities I just mentioned… It’s probably harder than you expected. This shows that while first names can become famous, they don’t naturally set up a legacy that extends beyond the individual to their future generations.

Understanding Legacy Implications

This raises an important question: How will the children and future generations of those who are known by their first names or stage names benefit from their legacies? 

When a brand is built around a personal name or nickname, it often lacks a clear family connection that can carry its accumulated wealth or cultural impact forward in a recognisable way. Usually, these brands are closely tied to the individual and may not easily transfer to the next generation without the original bearer's ongoing influence.

On the other hand, building a brand around a family's last name sets a different path. It creates a lasting legacy that supports not just the children but also future generations. The brand becomes more than just an individual, it evolves into a continuing entity that can adapt, grow, and thrive. This kind of branding serves as a lasting tribute to the family's ongoing influence and presence in their field.

Don’t Let Your Brand Die with You

In the photography industry, where everyone with a camera can brand themselves as a photographer, distinguishing yourself is crucial. Your last name can serve as a hallmark of quality and trust. Think of well-known photography brands like Hasselblad and ZEISS, which are built on family names and represent excellence and commitment to their craft.

When you name your brand after your last name, you're not just building for today. You're laying the foundations for a legacy that could support not only you but future generations. It’s about crafting a brand story that your descendants can inherit and continue, a narrative deeply entrenched in the roots of family and lasting stability.

While the allure of instant recognition through a simple first name or a catchy alias might seem tempting, the real power lies in your last name. It's about building not just a brand but a legacy that will testify to your life's work, your commitment to photography, and your vision for the future. 

So, as you develop your photography brand, think long-term, think legacy, think last name. Because if you build a brand around your first name or alias, your brand ultimately dies with you.

*For a deeper dive check out my new YouTube Video here:

*Have you ever wondered if your photography brand stands out for the crowd? Take the ‘Photography Branding Self-Assessment Test’ to find out:

*Grab a copy of “BRAND FART - Avoiding The 28 Common Branding Mistakes Photographers Make” here:



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