Expecting a baby? Can't decide on a name? Got a spare £20,000?
You could employ the services of Marc Hauser, who runs “naming agency” Erfolgswelle. The Switzerland-based firm first specialised in naming brands, but began branding children in 2015.
Erfolgswelle charges over £20,000 for every baby it names, with consultants spending around 100 hours on the process. Hauser told Bloomberg that his firm checks that a prospective baby name has not already been trademarked, saying: “Even when it’s a little close to an existing brand name, it will not survive”. (The company’s name, incidentally, translates as “wave of success”.) Historians also scrutinise the name’s origin and background, to make sure it doesn’t have “an aggravating past”.
In New York, meanwhile, parents pay several hundred dollars for a name report from Sherri Suzanne, who runs My Name For Life. Suzanne spends around 30 hours researching names for each child, often working with “cultural experts” to ensure that a name suits the family’s background.
“While some criteria, like name popularity, can be measured and ranked objectively, I find that other qualities, like morality of a name or likelihood for success, are very subjective and vary from person to person, community to community, and particularly generation to generation,” Suzanne told Bloomberg.
But what drives parents to outsource one of the most personal and emotive decisions of their lives? Both Hauser and Suzanne rejected the idea of the detached parent with too much money and too little interest (but then they would, of course). Instead, they said that parents tend to hire a consultant in order to resolve issues of conflicting cultures, or because the two of them can’t agree.
Considering your baby’s name in terms of branding possibilities might seem icky to most people, but for big-name celebrities it’s a serious business. In 2012, Beyoncé and Jay-Z lost a legal battle to trademark their daughter’s name, after a judge ruled in favour of a Boston wedding planning firm that had been trading as Blue Ivy since before the chosen child’s birth.