When Naming Doesn’t Matter (Much): Obama’s Name


As a naming specialist, I confess that when I first heard the name Barack Hussein Obama, I thought that there was one person who didn’t have a hope in hell of becoming our next president. Instead, Barack Hussein Obama has proven that if you are a formidable candidate with a formidable campaign—and a powerful message—you can rise above a name that might have all the wrong associations initially. And you can even invest that “brand name” with a meaning of your own. And so a name that once evoked “foreignness” and “otherness” has come to stand for a quintessentially American vision: of individuals of every culture and stripe both owning—and transcending—their personal histories to come together in common cause.


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