Email and apps connect us to people all over the world. Choosing a unique name makes it easier to sign up for online services and helps people recognize and remember you. A good name may also prevent someone from confusing you with another user, which can prevent false logins and having your messages go awry. Using a unique name can help us stand out while also maintaining our anonymity.
Note that some internet users enjoy anonymity because it makes them harder to track when they commit fraud. Nuwber, the database of US citizens, can help you decide which people you meet online are authentic, but only share your real details with caution, with trusted businesses and individuals. For the rest of the time, use a username.
Here are 9 quick tips you can use right away to create a unique name for work or pleasure.
1. Don’t go with the first name you invent
You might nail it the first time. For most people, however, the first name they think of is too on the nose to be truly great or unique.
Try thinking of as many names as you can. This can take the pressure off, get your creative gears oiled, and give you lots to choose from when it comes to finally select a unique name that says it’s you without being your actual name.
2. Avoid Personally Identifiable Information
There’s probably nothing more memorable to you than your own name. However, for the purposes of cybersecurity and standing out in the crowd, you should probably avoid using your real name in any publicly visible forum.
Avoid using any personally identifiable information in your usernames. Adding your year of birth to a username someone else has taken is common practice. Not only is the creation unlikely to be unique, but it also gives away personal information about you. A hacker or even a slightly motivated scammer could use this to get more details about you with which to commit fraud.
When we have so many services to sign up for, we want our usernames to be memorable, but don’t do so at the expense of security.
3. Make it something you like
People will be using this name to refer to you, unless or until you reveal your real name. So while your username might be funny at first, if you think you might get bored of being called “oldfort666” or “wetthebedthismorning”, don’t go there.
4. Make it appropriate
A funny username can be excellent for breaking the ice and having people remember you. A hilarious username stops the music when you walk in, in a good way.
But before you hit the submit button, consider whether you are likely to be making a serious point at any time in the future. If your username is ridiculous, people may be less likely to take you seriously when you have something important to say.
5. Make it long
Google currently likes a username between 6 and 30 characters, using a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. More and more services are tending toward the longer end of the spectrum. The good news is that this makes it easier to come up with unique names. And they are better for security. Using a long username and password will get you through the doors of most online services.
It’s better for security to have a different username for every service you use. For those moments when you don’t, a transferable username can be helpful. It will be easier to reuse a long username – which has more chance of being available on multiple sites – than a short one.
6. Make your unique name reflect you
While it’s best that your username does not contain personally identifiable information, it can still reflect your interests and character. If your username is for an app with a social aspect, this can help you meet and interact with people. Other users may not get to see what you look like straight away, but they will be able to glean some information about you – rightly or wrongly – from your unique name.
7. Give it longevity
Referencing a movie or TV show may be a good way to convey your personality. But note that while some movies and shows become classics, others date horribly. If you are a member of the internet service for a while, note that your username could end up outdating you.
8. Use an anagram
Anagrams are not just for clues left by serial killers in movies. Turning your name into an anagram can tick several unique name boxes for you at once. An anagram can be memorable, unique, and striking.
If you don’t have hours to spare, you can find free anagram generators online. Type your name, a short phrase, or any meaningful word string into the app and it will come up with suggestions. Use these as they are or as a springboard to creating your unique name.
9. Use symbols and numbers
Like them or not, throwing numbers and symbols into your name can make it unique. You can do so elegantly, replacing Os with 0s and ls with !s, for example. Just like the singer P!nk does. Or you can add them randomly, though this can make the username harder to remember.
Using hyphenation or underscores can help make your name unique, too. The problem, however, is that this is not the most creative solution. And you risk being confused with people with the same username minus the hyphens and underscores.
These 9 tips should help you come up with a name that is not only unique but also meaningful. The best names will create an impact and say something about who you are without giving away any information that would allow a scammer to identify you.
Stay safe online with your unique names while creating a powerful first impression and leaving a lasting impression on your networks.