Fads Inspire Product Names – and Baby Names, Too

Baby - resizedTurns out that naming your baby can be just as faddish a process as naming a new product or service.

Fads in naming? We’ve lived through a bunch:

  • TechnoBabble. (uKnow what iMean!) Just consider preposterous names such as @Climax, 1-4-@LL, 160 over 90, Sg2, mm02 and X’iT Group.
  • Waving the Flag. Ameribag, Americare, Americone, Amerideck, Ameridial, Amerihealth, Amerilink, Amerimark, Amerinet, Ameripharm…
  • Alphabet Soup. BB&T, CNF, FPL, SLM, TXU. And a personal favorite, “JCP&L, a GPU Company.”
  • Alphabet & Letter Soup. Automobile models named CX9, FR3, XL7, SX4, SRX, FX35, IS350, XC90, 650CI.
  • Green Creep. Trademark filings using “green,” “eco” and “clean” have more than doubled.

Back to babies – their names often become popular because of celebrities. For example, the name Emma debuted in the top 10 most popular in 2002, the same year that Jennifer Aniston’s character on Friends gave that name to her TV show baby. And by 2008, Emma was number one in popularity.

Fast forward to the top ten for 2009, courtesy of a tracking report by the Social Security Administration. And move over, Emma. Isabella is the new top baby name for girls. Jacob continues an 11-year run at the top for boys’ names.

Counting the girls born last year, 22,000 were named Isabella, followed by Emma, Olivia, Sophia and Ava. Nearly 21,000 boys were named Jacob, followed by Ethan, Michael, Alexander and William.

Many of the fastest-rising names came straight from the popular Twilight series of books and movies. (They’re all about romance and vampires, in case you haven’t been, ahh, bitten.)

  • Edward and Cullen moved up significantly among most-picked names. (Edward Cullen is one of the lead characters, a vampire whose girlfriend is Bella, which is a common nickname for Isabella.)

President Obama’s daughters had influence, too.

  • A version of Malia, a Presidential daughter, was the fastest-rising girls’ name.

“Anything can influence baby names, from pop culture to literature to music and celebrities,” says the founder of Babynames.com. (Her first name is Jennifer, now ranked #109, but once as high as #26).

“People seem to be a bit more creative, inventive and flexible with their daughters’ names,” says the Commissioner of Social Security. “With boys, we tend to be a bit more consistent. The names don’t change quite as much.” (His name is Michael, #3 in 2009, and #2 for each of the past 10 years).

For more on the 2009 baby name study: http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/

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