14 May 2009

What's in a Name?

The Colour of Money by penguincakes
Don't underestimate the importance of science and art of naming1 for our name controls our destiny.

So, many years ago, when I wanted a domain name of my own I thought long and hard of what the name might be, what the name should signify, what it would mean and it tickled me immensely when I hit on a memorable phrase that was designed explicitly to be meaningless.

Someone had already registered it, of course, and I had to buy it for an amount I have never disclosed to Mrs Botogol, but then registered it, and made a site and it was my very own.

And if I tell you that it was some years before it occurred to me that "green ideas" had environmental connotations it will tell you both about how long ago this was, and also about how quickly our language changes for  a meaning had risen to fit my meaningless name.

And now, in 2009, I find I could sell my name - for people are interested  - and everything has a price, doesn't it? It would be feel like selling a little part of myself, so my price is a large one. Of course it is.

1 so why is there no name for it?


M4GD said...

Another lovely thought-provoking posting! There is a lot in a name. What I’m about to write here is just the tip of the iceberg really. We come to this world and get assigned a label. It’s a fairly simple process and may remain simple until we use it for the last time to check out. What makes the difference between simple and complex is how we use the label to walk the path of life i.e. how we work the label, change it, keep it, or ‘it’ working for us, or how others read it is a whole different ball game. The label by itself has no power – we give it power. Naming as you said is both art and science. Branding/naming is a fairly crucial sub-element of the marketing mix (a.k.a. the four Ps: Price, Product, promotion, place.) And the business world is full of hilarious yet costly anecdotes of products and businesses that failed just because of using the wrong name in the wrong way at the wrong place.

It is not at all surprising to learn that baseball players with names or initials of the letter K are more likely to underperform than their counterparts due to the negative meaning of K in baseball. Clearly, the negative impact is unleashed by the power of auto-suggestion. If one is alert to how the brain works, it is possible to avoid this but not easy. This is a true story: One of the projects I worked on had a very long name so in our true American fashion we abbreviated it. The project had a great rich mix of international consultants. Two of them were from Holland. I vividly recall the first meeting I had with one of them and the puzzled look on his face when he saw the project’s abbreviated name. I asked what’s wrong?. He said do you realize that this name means ‘Disaster’ in Dutch/Flemish! I was taken aback. It was too late to change the name (was not in my domain/above my pay grade) besides in our eyes it did not matter much as the project was not implemented in Holland or anywhere near Europe. However, this is all what it took for the entire project team to associate the project name with the word ‘disaster’! While the project yielded some tangible positive results, its three and half year life-cycle was fraught with real serious disasters! Being the optimist I’m, now when I look back I see the disasters - regardless of how harsh and grave they were - as opportunities.

In summary, bringing it all back to you Botogol and Green Ideas, one follows your blog because of you, who you are, your unique ideas and writing style not the name. If you decide to sell ‘Colourless Green Ideas’, then indeed it may become ‘meaningless’! You make it special. You make it what it is. And No you can not put a price tag on this. Forget about economics. I do not believe that everything has a price. You can not buy trust, love, health, life. If you think you can, it will be like living a lie, an illusion, and all short-lived. I recently wrote the following E.E. Cummings quote to a gifted friend who is so dear to my heart:”Toms can be Dicks and Dicks can be Harrys but none of them can ever be you.” :-)
PS Sorry no I can not disclose what m4gd stands for at this time;-) but It’s associated with something positive and ‘meaningful’!

outside-jane said...

Sell the name! Change your Blog name to Colourless Ideas... and then email me and tell me why the hell you´re called Alibert Botogol?!

Botogol said...

@M4GD - curses, the *whole post* was simply a cunning device to get you to reveal the meaning of your name :-) (no, not really)

I like the project story :-)

Botogol said...

@ outside-jane - what an excellent idea. colourlessideas.com was even available, and now it's mine :-)

AB - it's not *that* cryptic. You have all the information you need.

M4GD said...

Oh no shucks really the post was not devised to tempt me to reveal what my ID stands for:-( And all this time and all these years I thought I’m the center of the universe;-) Don’t you hate it when your bubble gets burst:-)