Name ownership

Is being referred to by a single name the ultimate recognition of cultural primacy?

When I was at ITV, all the main bosses were simply referred to by their first names (though the sales floor had the problem of the “Three Garys” – not dissimilar to “The Four Marys“)

Reading several tech blogs where the head of Apple was just referred to as “Steve” prompted me to consider who else “owns” their name – not just internally in an organisation but in the wider world.

So I turned to Google.

And then, not wanting to be totally biased, I also turned to Bing.

Below are some of the results (NB: I signed out of Google, so the search results shouldn’t have been personalised. I don’t think I have a Microsoft account to sign into anymore)

It is as evidently hard to get a single name association, because there are a lot of people – many extremely talented – and not as many names. So, unless you are blessed with something as unique as D’Brickashaw you are going to struggle for that primacy.

There are options. Nicknames, for one. Neologisms or contractions (such as J-Lo) assist uniqueness.

But does a single name title actually matter? “Steve” might imply familiarity but this shouldn’t be assumed. Specificity is preferable. Context may imply which Ronaldo is being referred to, but implications are weak and thus not as memorable.

This is why I prefer multiple word names. They’re even better if they can juxtapose alternative meanings, or fuse something together for the first time. I chose Curiously Persistent for that reason. Similarly, many of my favourite blogs have unique, memorable names – borrowed or repurposed from other contexts. Only Dead Fish. Feeding the Puppy. Quaint Living. Six Pixels of Separation. And so on.

I’m not striving to be “Simon” – which would cause confusion with Simon and Simon on my blogroll, let alone the wider environment. Simon Kendrick (or Curiously Persistent) is just fine with me.

sk

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4 Responses

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  2. I think single-name-dom is about more than just uberfame. In the case of people in the tech/bloggy world, it’s often an attempt by the writer to suggest that the person in question is their mate. You know, Steve, that guy whose blog I read and who probably reads mine too, and who I might bump into at Starbucks, cos those are the sort of circles I move in.

  3. Fair point, thanks “Robert”. Or should that be “Rob”?! 🙂

  4. I guess it helps if you have an unusual name – like Faris, who is (deservedly no doubt) top Faris 😉

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