Monday, May 4, 2009

Changing Names

Most people think that names matter (see the last chapter of Freakonomics). If you're not convinced of this point, do a Google search for "Baby Names" and look at the number of hits. The amount of resources poured into naming people, companies, and things is incredible. Someone must think all of this fuss is worthwhile.

Looking into CD Rates prompted me to think more on this topic because I came across the mysterious case of Waterfield Bank, a bank that changed its name from American Partners Bank in December 2008. When this happened, the move was described as "mostly cosmetic," a name change.

If the name was all that changed, why do it? My hunch is that the company was eager to shed a bad reputation. A website on famous name changes cites 261 actors, 302 singers, and 26 corporations that changed their names. This post relates my five favorites... in no particular order.

The star of Home Improvement and the Santa Clause movies, Tim Allen, changed his name from Tim Allen Dick. I think we can understand why.

Chuck Norris changed his name from Carlos Ray Norris. Imagine what he would have done if he didn't change his name. Would he cure cancer with tears?

Joaquin Phoenix changed his name from Joaquin Raphael Bottom. Maybe it's time to change his name back. At least, I think his rap career has hit bottom.

Elton John changed his name from Reginald Kenneth Dwight. I don't know why, but I think that Sir Reginald Kenneth Dwight has a more official ring to it than Sir Elton John.

And, my favorite name change is Google changing its name from BackRub in 1998. I love the fact that if the original name stuck, we would be "giving back rubs" instead of Googling.

Question to the reader: What are some of your favorite name changes?

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