Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What's in a name?

A lot is in a name really. Ask Iona Knipl, winner of the New York Times Worst Bad Name contest. Read here how she used to hate her name at school, but now finds it "neat".

I also had a bad time at school because I had the longest name in letters in my primary class. I remember being given a long thin piece of coloured card with my name neatly spelled out by the teacher and told to copy it, letter by letter. I was the last in the class to achieve it!

Throughout senior school it was a real drag of a name too, but I have come to love my unusual name, even though you'd blanch at some of the spellings I've had! Once people understand my name, it's unforgettable, or at least instantly recognisable. Yes, I like my name. It doesn't define me as names did when they were first given hundreds of years ago. I'm not that small and not too pretty! But in some ways I am now defined by my name and how I had to deal with it growing up.

In this light I can see how Sir Terence Conran is miffed that some other company is going global with a chain of companies in his name. When I was considering a name for my venture a good friend and colleague who happens to be a specialist in company acquisitions warned me of using my name as a trading name, the argument goes thus: you get known, build up your company to the point where it's not just you on your own anymore, but a board responsible to shareholders. It's at this point that you are no longer in sole charge of your named company. Nor, in that context, your name. You could be ousted by from the board, retire, resign. But your name goes on in the guise of the company. Just like Sir Conran.

1 comment:

Zebra said...

now you tell me! I've just set up 'myname'.co.uk and now I risk losing my very identity when it becomes a thriving global multinational icon! I agree that there are downsides to using your own name, but that said it is unique and makes impersonation that little bit more difficult.