The power of names and by extension the power of words.
Now as you are reading these words, you are taking part in one of the wonders of the natural world, for you and I belong to a species with remarkable abilities to shape events in each other’s brains with delicate precision. We have incredible powers to communicate and engage others in desired actions. We can express ourselves in many different ways and the delivery of words (message) has the power to change and challenge others.
For instance, my is name is Halima and you can call me Hali. Now, even if you didn’t know anything about me you would probably make presumptions within your head about what kind of person I am, this is just human nature.
And as you know we humans have to absorb insane amounts of information every second of our lives and we have to make sense of all of this information, make it manageable and easy to understand- and we sure do love to categorise them into things.
We love to stick a bunch of things in the same category, say they’re all the same thing and move on.
Cause there’s so much to learn about and absorb.
This leads us to make a lot of assumptions of what things are what things do and such, this includes assuming what a person is like when you hear their name even if you didn’t do it consciously.
I’m going to give you a brief example
If I said, to you Madonna… What do you think of? The Icon perhaps, the one who has continued to evolve and reinvent creating huge movements from centuries to recent years?
Or do you think of the word Madonna, with its origins in Latin meaning ‘My Lady’, taking the symbol of life, purity, love, royalty, innocence, youth, and immortality?
And in most parts of our daily lives, we are faced with so many names, from pop culture to the workplace, we have come to terms (true names) from practices in folklore, referred to as ‘the Law of Names’; knowledge of a true name allows one to affect another person or being magical. So, is it in the name?
Ra, the god of the sun, has the head of a falcon and the sun-disk inside a cobra resting on his-Hieroglyphics.
“It is stated that knowing someone’s, or something’s, the true name, therefore, gives the person (who knows the true name) power over them”-Egyptian Philosophy
And from history we learnt, the true name of the Egyptian sun god Ra was revealed to Isis (a major goddess in ancient Egyptian religion) through an elaborate trick. This gave Isis complete power over Ra and allowed her to put her son Horus on the throne.
Putting all of this into context to modernity and present-day, names still come from religious rituals and there are legal requirements needed for names to govern identity protection, of us (humans), our beliefs (values) and our integrity (intellect).
This not only applicable for naming baby but also for objects, categories and character associations.
Remember, when Elon Musk & Grimes named their baby
‘X Æ A-12’in 2020?
For example, how we perceive, believe and want a brand based on the way it communicates with us?
Furthermore, these notions of names sit much closer to us as they have strong routes in religions, where we see ceremonies taking place in the forms of baptisms, name registrations and powerful name keeping practises from Sikhism. For example, they lead ‘Nam Karan’ events when naming a new-born child.
It’s needless to say, names carry powers and it is an important part of our identity. For example, some names make you feel a certain way and the following names have been categorised or associated with Power
Here are a few names from around the world:
Daivat: This Hindi name means “power, strength”
Kano: A Japanese name, this means “masculine power”
Kedar: This Arabic name means “powerful”
Montgomery: Derived from a German name meaning “power of man”
Richard: A popular name, this means “powerful leader”
Thor: Norse god of thunder and “power”
And more popularly, we have certain feelings for names like
Amirah, Boris, Caesar, Elizabeth, Victor.. don’t we?
“When captured by Polyphemus, Homer’s Odysseus is careful not to reveal his name; when asked for it, Odysseus tells the giant that he is “Otis’ which means ‘nobody’.”
Now let’s put this all of this into action. Say I am a new biochemical tech company, HQ in the USA who has invented two new flavours of ice cream for digital customers to buy and consume.
Imagining, you are sitting behind your desk on a hot summers day and you wanted to eat an instant ice-cream with the flavours of your choice?
I’m going to tell you their names and you’re going to tell me what they will probably taste like
Flavour number one is called ‘Zuuoodd’ and flavour number is called ‘Phleaheen’, generally, people would describe the flavour with more vowels and drawn-out heavy sound as thicker and creamier while though describe the fleein sound as lighter, fluffier puffier or however you want to describe a lighter ice-cream flavour.
This again, proves the that names have such an incredible degree of power, particularly for brand developments. Studies have shown that people with easier to pronounce names are also generally seen in a more positive light too.
But it’s not always so simple or easy. We learn that so many words are also synonyms, with the same meaning giving to them with different versions, of the same thing. We sometimes see this in businesses who adopt synonyms and apply acronyms to categorise groups or to make associations with. Like, CRM…. Performance, Directors, HR, Operations, Systems et al.
Again, synonyms are there as we have some words that are just more severe than others, I’m going to present you with two different sentences that are basically, the same in meaning.
The director hit the server
The director smashed the server
This might not be true for everyone but generally, people will think the word smashed is more intense than the word hit, it’s more visceral that has more ferocity to it.
Now there are all kinds of studies connecting names to various statistics and whilst correlation doesn’t equal causation. It’s no doubt very interesting for instance, female judges, in court tend to have more masculine or general neutral names.
This typically is instead of traditional and more feminine names. In context, there are many groups of people and many professions that have to understand this use of wordplay.
Two I can think of, are Finance Leaders and Marketing Advertisers.
An Advertisers job is to sell you a product first and foremost and when you have limited ad space with a limited word count or a limited amount of space to get you the attention you, you know they’re going to make every last word count.
That’s why you’ll see thing’s advertised as delicious over tasty, organic over as supposed to natural ingredients.
Finance Leaders also do this all the time, let’s say a Finance Leader was dealing with someone who stole company property from the business, instead of saying something like you stole, he might say you took. They mean essentially the same thing but one of them sounds a lot more severe. And this makes it easier to deal with difficult situations and maintain professionalism.
Words ultimately give us the power to lead and drive engagements with meaning for all parts of our civil existence. Even the deaf can learn signs of the language to portray and give reason to communications for desired actions.
Lastly, with the power of names (words):
Something to think about. In the opera Turandot, the plot turns on whether or not Princess Turandot could learn the name of her unwanted suitor. If she does, she could execute him; if she doesn’t, she would have to marry him.
Opera by Franco Alfano and Giacomo Puccini (1926)
Context conveyance and presentation all take a great deal of skill to truly master and they are incredibly important to persuasively delivering a message.