Thursday, January 16, 2014


These days, the lines between given names and brand names are growing ever more blurry. You don't have to look far to see some of the reasons why. For one, plenty of brands names are actually based on the name of the owner or inventor, or for some other reason are derived from already established given names. Think Armani, Wendys, Estee Lauder, Barbie or Reeses, just to name a few. And now that last names as first names have become increasingly popular the scope has widened even further. Then there are brand names that are based on words, particularly from nature or places. Milo, Lynx and Apple may not be common on the playground, but they're not completely unheard of. Yet to some they are just brands of hot drinks, men's deodorant and electronic products.

Then there is a slightly different breed of brand-names-come-baby-names. Those names that are specifically invented as a brand name, and have no origins or use as a given name until after the brand was invented.

That's not to say that these are unusable as names exactly. When you think about it, it's understandable why we would feel attracted to a word we hear every day, especially a word that represents something we admire, respect or aspire to. For example, Lexus brand cars were first introduced to the US in 1989, and the name Lexus subsequently debuted on the U.S SSA charts in 1990 for both girls and boys. Lexus is a name invented by parent company Toyota, loosely meaning "luxury edition cars for the US". You may not be able to afford one of these luxury cars, but that doesn't mean you can't add some of their sophistication and style to your household. In theory.

Shiseido is a name that falls into this latter category.

Shiseido was specifically created for the Shiseido brand. According to the Shiseido website:

"the name Shiseido was taken from a passage in I Ching, the classic Chinese Book of Changes, as it suggests some of the most ancient human wisdom still relevant today.
The last four characters of the Japanese translation (Ban Batsu Shi Sei) means, "Praise the value of the great Earth, which nurtures new life and brings forth new values".
These few syllables encapsulate the philosophy of Shiseido as a company, as a brand, as a citizen of the world".

It's an exotic sounding word with the currently cool "O" ending and quite a beautiful meaning. Plus it has the benefit of associations with youth, beauty and style. Yet it's a name that not many children bear - Shiseido has never appeared in the American charts, possibly because it may be a little hard to wear. Using it as a name would almost overwhelmingly make people think of the brand, so it could be considered a brave and distinctive choice for a daughter. 

Personally, I think that Shiseido falls into a similar category as the name Khaleesi. Both were invented to convey a concept, and weren't originally intended to be used as a given name. Yet both have a cool, lyrical sound; a romantic fantasy-like feel; and possibly represent something empowering to some people. They may even be quite well matched for a pair of sisters. 

Would I use them myself? No. But I can understand why some people would find them attractive and appealing enough to use.

I can't help but feel that the debate around the suitability of invented and brand names as given names is one that we will only see a lot more of in the future. Names are "invented" all the time, often just for their sound. They're not really that much different to those invented for a brand. At least Shiseido was invented to mean something, and something beautiful at that. What do you think - does Shiseido have potential as a name, or not?


  1. I think Shiseido is a Beautiful name!! It flows off the lips in a lovely fashion. Knowing the meaning makes it that much more special. No, I would not use it, but I am just one person. I am certain it will most likely find it's way out into the "Name Game" & start being used.

    P.S. This is the first time I have been to your website, and as an Onomastician = (baby name freak), I am VERY impressed with your list of FRESH names that even I have not seen before!
    When I saw the list to vote on, with the names: Acanthia Brahminy Everlyse Lexique Pandaria Sabeline - I must say, I almost fell of my bed!! I am thrilled to find names I've NEVER heard of before. I've been doing this online since 1996 & believe me when I say I thought I had seen almost all...

    Thank You So Much!!!!

    signed......not sure, been looking for thee perfect name to rename myself for years now. I use Jiinxsay for online, I also use Whimsy-Bohème online because of it's lovely meaning
    but I want a very special name, 1st, middle, maybe more than 1 middle, and Last as well.
    so, for now, signed, Jiinxsay, a big FAN, from Boston, Mass. USA <3

  2. Thanks Jiinxsay - I'm glad you found my site, and hope I keep bringing you names that you find new and exciting ☺

  3. I want to thank this website & Brooke personally for welcoming me to my new name. After many years of searching for the perfect name, and struggling with decisions, it came to me so simply & with ease. The minute I said it I knew I had finally, after 40 years, found who I really am. I am Brahminy May Holland :)

    Bless you Brooke <3