What’s in a (nick)name.

The earliest nickname I can recall was given to me by my twin as we were learning how to converse with each other. She couldn’t pronounce my name so she called me CACA. And most folks know what THAT means in Spanish.

hello_im_cacaThe name stuck and became a term of endearment to this day within the family.

We shared a nickname in grade school: the Skinny Witch Twins. Yes, we were skinny. No, we weren’t witchey.

In fact, we were both painfully shy. Especially me. So, not so endearing.

I never understood the nickname I was given while attending the Art Academy of Cincinnati in the 70s by a friend of my best friend, well-known printmaker and long-time professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, Nancy Friese. Abatross. Hmmm

Out of the blue, I receive a message from a former colleague from my Motorola days, and when he provided me with his email address, it contained his nickname, Sully.

This conjured up pleasant memories with him as an important mentor for the design phase of my career and the department’s hero.

Come to think about it, this whole dance with cultural semantics and signifying is quite compelling.

We seem to have adapted to using shortened names in our consumer-centric communications, as well. But, studies show that nicknames must be earned – not assigned arbitrarily by wily brand mavens and mavericks.

So, next time you start calling someone or something by either an established nickname or your own, consider how you could be unknowingly instigating a paradigm shift on how that person perceives herself.

Or even how a brand morphs in the marketplace.

Could be a game changer!