If my dad had carried the day, I would probably have been named Bethesda. As it was, my parents came to a workable compromise, and my proper name is Beth Linda. Not as memorable as Bethesda, but probably not as challenging as living my life as a town in Maryland.
Naming a child is tricky business, and the brand naming consultants here at Catchword have always been struck by the parallels between naming a product and naming your offspring. So in honor of Father’s Day—and as a heads-up to fathers (and mothers) everywhere—here are five things that are just as important to keep in mind when naming a baby as they are when naming a product.
1. Remember brand context.
Your baby’s name will always be accompanied by your surname (the master brand, in brand-naming parlance). So consider how the two will go together. Anthony Weiner is bad enough; Dick Weiner, cruel and unusual.
2. Consider the competition.
A fresh name can help your child stand out from peers. With a little research, you can avoid the most overused names (for boys in 2011, the top five to date are Jacob, Ethan, Michael, Jayden, and William, according to Social Security Administration statistics).
3. Avoid P.R. fiascos.
It’s a jungle (gym) out there. Think twice about saddling your kid with a name like Dweezil (Frank Zappa’s son), Audio Science (Shannyn Sossamon’s) or Zuma Nesta Rock (Gwen Stefani’s).
4. Keep the spelling intuitive.
Forget about Ikhyd Edgar Arular (M.I.A.’s child), Nakoa-Wolf Manakauapo Namakaeha (Lisa Bonet’s), or Seargeoh (Sylvester Stallone’s)—even a name like Madyson or Caitelyn can be an albatross. Why doom your child to constantly spelling his or her name for puzzled acquaintances?
5. Don’t decide by committee.
Everyone has different associations with different names, and you’ll wind up with a name that’s as bland as it is unobjectionable. Stick to finding a name that works for you and your co-producer. You’ll probably find that challenging enough.
Follow these five simple rules, and your child will have a lot more to be grateful for by the time they’re old enough to celebrate Father’s Day with you.