A change of identity


Baileys (Photo credit: Ivana Di Carlo)

Changing a name is a risky business. Especially if you have an established brand name that’s known around the industry and yet some of the most famous corporations around us have been through a name change. Ever heard of Backrub? Probably not, and yet, that was the chosen name for the corporation that today is known as Google. What about Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation? It has to be said, IBM is a lot snappier.

When I was growing up, the name Datsun was synonymous with rusty old bangers that were reliable, but unfortunately fell to bits. Daewoos used to be the reliable but dreadful cars from Korea that were basically reincarnated Vauxhalls. Today, these cars are bang up to date and adorned with the name “Chevrolet“, which used to be synonymous with American muscle cars.

Her Majesty’s Royal Mail is a fine name for a postal service, in place since Charles the 1st, but the management thought differently. This fine moniker was superseded by “Consignia” because it was modern, meaningful and entirely relevant. The public didn’t think so, and the name quickly reverted to the one that had been in place for centuries.

It’s not just companies that change their names. Somehow, I doubt Michael Sinclair Vincent would have made it, so it’s probably just as well he changed his name to Vin Diesel. How about Frances Ethel Gumm? Somehow, Judy Garland has more star quality.

During a routine meeting the other day, we established that a third of the people were no longer known by the name they were given and I was one of them. I grew up as Martin Grimes. Mum remarried when we were kids and everyone took the new surname of Bailey, except me. I don’t really remember why, probably because I was in the middle of secondary school.

When we came to get married, we talked about names. I wasn’t attached to Grimes. I remember having to spell it out to a call centre worker three times once before the penny dropped and she said “Oh – Grimes. As in dirt”. I tried on my wife’s name for size; “Emburey”. I wasn’t sure about that either, so we agreed to take the name “Bailey” when we got married.

Every so often, I get a reminder of my past moniker when I find an old exam certificate or some old correspondence. Some of my friends I’ve known for a long time will occasionally call me Grimesy. I can’t say I miss my old name, and yet whenever I sign anything, it is my earlier name I scratch out in barely legible writing. Old habits die hard.


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