What happened, Sean? Did you run out of Puff?

The name you choose for yourself is the chance to cast aside a load of baggage

Share

Can it really be pure coincidence that the word “onomastic” (relating to the study of names) and the word “onanistic” (relating to masturbation) share so many letters in common? Either way, let their close dictionary proximity act as a  warning: Modify your name, change your name completely, or generally  express too much interest in your own name and people are bound to think you’re indulging in a bit of self-gratification.

Even the man known variously as “Puff Daddy”, “Puffy”, “P. Diddy” and “Diddy” has recently come to this realisation. After a career marked by high-profile name changes, last week he admitted that he now regrets not sticking with plain old Sean Combs, the name his mother gave him. “Looking back on it, it’s probably been one of my biggest branding mistakes,” he said in an interview to promote his new music channel, Revolt TV. “It was just being young and not being strategic and having lots of nicknames. When you’re growing up in the inner-city neighbourhood, that’s really common.”

Call it “personal branding”, call it “nominative determinism”, call it what you will, Combs is not alone in believing that the name you use has an almost mystical influence over your chances of success. A given name might indicate your parents’ aspirations, what class you come from, or who your great-great- grandmother married.

The name you choose for yourself is an opportunity to cast all that baggage aside and look to the future. It’s a powerful act of self-determination, a statement of ambition and therefore, as the haters like to remind us, it’s also rather pretentious.

Combs doesn’t really care if anyone thinks he’s pretentious, he cares about whether they think he’s a serious businessman, so he can sell them some advertising on his new TV channel. From this point of view, it probably isn’t the audacity of the initial name change he most regrets, but changing his name so many times subsequently that a Google search engine will struggle to recall his various achievements to date. That’s just bad branding.

As it’s a bit late for regrets on that count, Combs’ only recourse is to stop taking himself so seriously and look to the other great name-changer of hip hop. At time of going to press we know him as Snoopzilla, but who knows what he’ll be called by morning? The artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg and then Snoop Lion has announced that he’ll be releasing his latest album 7 Days of Funk under the name Snoopzilla, in homage to funk legend Bootsy “Bootzilla” Collins. “We’re babies of the Mothership,” Snoopzilla said, by way of explanation. “I’ve had funk influences in my music my whole career.”

Here’s a man who clearly cares not a jot for branding practices or Google SEO, but perhaps understands what Combs doesn’t. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you call yourself, if the work is good enough, they’ll remember your name.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Lada became a symbol of Russia’s failure to keep up with Western economies  

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
The Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, has been dubbed ‘Bibi’s brain’  

Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire

Patrick Cockburn
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz