A name is much more than a label. A name is a melody, a vibration. A name invokes an image, a feeling, an impression. A name can be a powerful influence, and in fact, a name can mean the difference between success and failure. Henry Ford never realized that the name of the car that almost brought Ford Motor Company to the brink of bankruptcy, spelled disaster: Ford Edsel. The name "Edsel" might have been suitable for a cleaning product, it was a terrible name for a car. No matter how well designed and competitively priced this car may have been, with the name Edsel, this product was doomed.
Today we are much more aware of this phenomenon. It was not a fluke that a highly successful commercial advertising a new kind of hamburger compared anyone unwilling to try this product to a nerd named Herb. People in the advertising business know very well the impression the name Herb makes. After all, who wants to be Herb? Have you ever read a book where the macho hero is named Herb? Or Eugene?
Of course not. Writers tend to be very good at naming their characters. Heroes are named John, Alex, Bill, Steve, Wayne ... strong names, names that call up images of tough guys, not nerds. Do you think John Wayne would have become the legend he is today if his name had been Herb Wayne? Or Eugene Wayne? Let alone stuck with his real birthname, Marion Morrison?
Mystery and subtlety
Look at the names of things. What better name for a pretzel than "pretzel?" Your gut feeling that the name "pretzel" is exquisitely suitable to the pastry has nothing to do with the fact that you have known a pretzel to be a pretzel since childhood. It is the sound, the melody and what it does to your tongue when you speak the name "pretzel" that makes it so fitting. It just curls. Or how about "wool" for wool and "cotton" for cotton? And look at words such as love and hate. The word love reaches out to you, wants to embrace you, draw you into itself. The word is warm and protective. The word hate, on the other hand, is hard and sharp ... it bites.
None of this is coincidence. Language has evolved in perfect synchronicity with the people who speak it. Names are initially applied to things with the help of intuition and a mental and emotional relationship with the object. From there, they evolve: spellings change, pronunciations change -- a fine-tuning takes place over hundreds, even thousands of years of evolution.
Today, if you need a name for a product or a business entity, you have neither the time nor the resources to let the name evolve until it fits -- it has to be right from day one. Think of the power of a name as similar to a color or a shape. The people responsible for the design of a new product will devote large amounts of time and money to get the shape and the color just right. Everybody understands that the wrong color can mean failure in the marketing of a good product, and the right color can mean success even for a mediocre product.
In order to be successful, you have to make the right impression, and the name is the first impression one gets. A Texas-based energy business named "Entergy" with their choice of company name severely frustrates its own business potential. This name is simply terrible. It is awkward and infantile -- sometimes a slight adjustment can make a big difference. A struggling mall named Mall of the Mainland is a bad choice. Change it to Mainland Mall, and business will improve.
A "good" name
The process is somewhat different for individuals. As an individual, you already have a name. The challenge, therefore, is to find a way to improve the current name or decide on an alternative.
Your original name at birth reflects who you are: your talents, strengths, weaknesses, unique character traits and so forth. Your original name at birth cannot be changed. Your birth has passed and you have been named.
Your date of birth represents the momentum of your life: the path you walk, the cycles, the timing of events and influences, the direction of your life. Your date of birth cannot be changed either.
However your current name, the way you introduce yourself, can be changed -- and the result of a name change can be dramatic. The way you introduce yourself shows how you feel about yourself: your self-confidence, your self-image, your perspective of your own potential and short-comings. When you introduce yourself, you do much more than simply label yourself as "so-and-so" -- you create an impression in sound and vibration.
But there is more. Every time you introduce yourself, or even think of yourself, you confirm an image, a range of qualities. You influence your own world, your immediate environment and the people around you. This influence can be positive or detrimental to the quality of your life and your ability to tap into your true potential.
Most people are comfortable with their names, and rightly so. Parents tend to do a good job naming their children. A combination of love, intuition and many months of adjusting to the upcoming event of giving birth virtually guarantees that the child receives the perfect name, a name that fits the child perfectly.
But, people change. In most cases, the changes are reflected in the original name at birth and in harmony with the individual's personal evolution. Even so, it is not uncommon for a person to reach a stage in life where a certain discomfort is connected with the everyday name, a recognition of discordance, a deep inner feeling that the name is no longer in harmony with the flow of life. At that point, a name change may be in order.