Brand Names Become Baby Names
Brand names and baby names are in a never-ending loop of influence. You have brands that were named after people — such as Mercedes–Benz, named for entrepreneur Emil Jellinek’s eleven-year-old daughter Mercédès, and Maybelline, after cosmetic producer Thomas Lyle William’s sister Mabel.
And now babies are named after brands. If you meet a little Mercedes or Maybelline today, her name may have been inspired by the company so strongly associated with it — almost definitely in Maybelline’s case.
Discerning brand names from baby names gets even messier now that many startups are taking their names from up-and-coming baby names. How much of Casper’s rise is influenced by the mattress brand? Hard to say. Ditto for names like Billie, Arlo, Clara, Ollie — the list goes on.
For the sake of this article, I’ve excluded startup names and am focusing on established and recognizable brands — some of which do, in fact, have traditional baby names (looking at you, Zara).
Although many are rare, business names are undeniably catching the eyes of new parents. Below, the brand names turned baby names given to five or more children in 2019:
We’ve all heard of people named Mercedes, Ford, and Bentley, which at this point feel as much (or more) like baby names as brand names. It helps that they were familiar names to begin with — either established first names or common English surnames. But with less familiar names such as Benz, Subaru, and Audi, the company connection is much more salient.
One car name you might be surprised to not see on this list — Porsche. It peaked in 1987 with 182 baby girls given the name and dropped off the charts entirely in 2018. Last year, more baby girls were named Polaris than Porsche.
Names from the fashion industry are some of the most, well, fashionable brand names for 2020. If you’re going to go with a brand name for your baby, this category is the one to choose from.
Designer names, in particular, made our list of trends to watch this decade, with Dior, Armani, and Kenzo recently heating up. Streetwear brand names such as Boden and Zara are on the rise as well — although it might have more to do with their on-trend sounds than business ties.
Most of these beauty brand names have lives outside of their makeup and skincare associations. Nivéa, for example, is actually a well-used girl name in Brazil, as Sephora is in Japan. And yet every time I meet the mother of a Mac, I make sure to check her lipstick — is that Ruby Woo?
Around the House
Drink names are heavily represented in this category, from bottled water to soda to alcohol. Thankfully it looks like we’re not going to meet babies named Nescafe or Clamato anytime soon (don’t worry, I checked).
Prescription drug companies come up with brand names the same way inventive parents come up with baby names — by mixing and matching sounds until something sounds right. So, surprise surprise, sometimes they stumble upon the same combinations.
Don’t go looking in your medicine cabinet for baby names, but if your favorite name happens to be one of a medication, it’s not the end of the world. After all, Allegra and Yasmin were baby names first! Just do a quick search if you’re creating your own baby name so your daughter won’t one day share a name with her birth control.
Entertainment, Finance, and Tech
For the increasingly large role that technology plays in our lives, it has inspired relatively few baby names. In fact, parents may be actively avoiding names related to tech — names like Alexa and Siri have been tainted for generations to come.
The brand names from the tech and entertainment sphere that get adopted as baby names tend to be similar to existing names. That means you can argue Espn is just a sportier way to spell Espen, and Kindle is a bookworm’s take on Kendall.
Would you ever use a brand name for a baby? Which name would you use?