By: Sandy Swanson
The 80s song by the Scorpions says it best. Hurricane Sandy rocked our worlds this week with a little bit of everything—wind, rain, snow, fire, floods, and massive power outages.
Last week when weather experts were predicting this ‘perfect storm,’ a late season hurricane mixed with a good old-fashioned nor’easter, I found out the name was mine: Sandy.
I must admit, I was somewhat excited. After all, who doesn’t yearn for the spotlight at some point? My 15 minutes of fame were to share a name with this super storm, also dubbed “Frankenstorm” because of its timing with Halloween. Quickly, however, my excitement turned to dread as events unfolded. Headline after headline highlighted the hurricane’s wrath: Sandy Shuts Down NYC Subway, Sandy to Cost Billions, and Sandy Causes 108 Storm-Related Deaths.
Every time I would hear one of these stories, it would catch me off-guard. Seeing and hearing my name associated with such devastation made me appreciate the value of names.
I remember in the early 1990s, I worked with a woman who had the misfortune of sharing a name with a newsmaker. Do you remember Joey Buttafuoco and his girlfriend Amy Fisher? Fisher shot Joey’s wife in the face in the midst of an affair with Buttafuoco and resulting scandal. My colleague’s name was Amy Fischer. The last name was spelled differently, but it didn’t matter. I could hear her repeatedly answer, “No, I don’t know where Joey is!” to people over the phone and in person. To them, it was funny, but for her it was a nightmare.*
Sometimes the shoe is on the other foot and we desire to be associated with a famous name. I had a recent conversation with a fellow team member whose mother named her after a 80s sitcom star. I also recently read that celebrities Beyonce and Jay-Z made an unsuccessful attempt to trademark their daughter’s name (Blue Ivy) to avoid derogatory use.
Hurricane Sandy is a good reminder that names (whether personal, company, or product) are important. They are our identities, our brand, and help differentiate us from others. To the best of our abilities, we have to protect them. Certainly, there was nothing I could do to prevent sharing my name with Hurricane Sandy. So, guess I will take my place in history and wait for next season’s hurricane to give someone else the limelight. In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to set up a Google Alert to monitor your name. You never know how might be used.
Share your stories with us about names. Write us below.
* As an interesting side note, the infamous Amy Fisher known as the “Long Island Lolita” has since changed her name, according to Wikipedia. I guess she did not like the notoriety either.