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Opinion: 'I Want to Own My Own Brand, Not His.'

By Kathryn Goater (neé Van Kuyk), Co-founder and Co-CEO, Media-Wize.

After my marriage ended and embracing my newfound independence, there was one lingering relic of that chapter I needed to cast aside: my ex-husband's name.

Like many women, I had adopted my husband's surname when we married, and it became synonymous with my professional identity. But I’ve recently reclaimed my identity. I decided that just like Twitter had rebranded to X, that using my ex’s name was just no longer authentic to my personal brand.

I started the next chapter in my life, after more than 20 years working in media and PR, with a profound desire to reevaluate my life and reimagine my future on my own terms. The first decision I made was to launch my own PR and media training agency with my co-founder, Anthony Caruana. But legally my divorce wasn’t finalised, so I had to register the business and start the company using my ex’s name.

During pandemic-related delays in my divorce, I wrestled with the idea of reclaiming my name, but I was afraid of the potential financial and business repercussions.

I had just spent the past 4.5 years building a business and a company brand tied closely to my personal brand. I had written a lot of articles that were placed in many media outlets, and I had established my presence on social media. My personal brand had become synonymous with the business, making it effortless for clients, prospects, journalists and industry peers to find me with a simple search, with many paths leading directly to my digital footprint. Changing my name disrupted this continuity and risked losing the momentum I had worked so hard to achieve.

The turning point came when my 14-year-old daughter candidly remarked on the fact I continued to use her father's name.

Part of me hesitated about having to explain my maternal connection to her teachers when she was younger. But now, in high school, her teachers barely even knew me. What did it matter anymore?

It was time to be authentic and reclaim my own brand, one that could never be externally removed again. It coincided with my original family name suddenly also seeming way cooler than it ever did when I was growing up, thanks to sport and urban myth. My daughter asked what my maiden name even was and when I told her she exclaimed excitedly, “That’s cool, Mum!”

And so, the shift happened.

I made the decision to post on LinkedIn, announcing the change, and the outpouring of support was beyond anything I ever expected. "The GOAT is back," or "Goatey Girl" as I had been affectionately called by many in the past. Welcome back Kathryn Goater after 21 years.

Women often find themselves at a crossroads when it comes to identity. Many of us automatically adopted our spouse's surname. Later in our career we may contemplate returning to our original family name for personal or professional reasons.

This transition can be intimidating, but embracing one's identity, including one's name, can be a powerful and empowering choice for women in business.

With divorce at the highest levels on record, maintaining your identity can be a savvy long-term decision.

Authenticity is a powerful force. Embracing my true identity after years of using someone else’s was not just an act of personal liberation but also a testament to the strength and resilience of women in business.


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