Slate on how branding names and baby names converged. Are our consumer products becoming our babies, and our babies becoming branded items?
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We’ve started naming our kids like products—and our products like kids. Parents approach baby naming a lot like product branding. Whereas in the past, names were typically chosen with an eye toward personal significance (a baby was named after a grandparent, say), today’s parents increasingly focus on the public image projected by the name.
Now, as companies introduce technologies that function like people—Siri being the most extreme example to date—they suddenly find themselves with the same kinds of naming challenges as today’s parents-to-be. They have to consider the complex web of cultural meanings that each name carries. They have to ask, as parents do, “What kind of person are we creating, and what name represents that?”
It’s no coincidence, then, that brand names and baby names have begun to converge, as in the case of the Sienna minivan and baby Siennas.