Sunday, October 5, 2008

Names with memes

One of the theories I've been quite influenced by is that of 'The Selfish Gene', popularized by Richard Dawkins. (Yes, the engaging intellectual, militant atheist and fascist 'Darwnizer') (Darwin+Sermonize). In that he talks about memes. Put simply, memes are stories. And names that come with a story attached to them can add or take away from the equity a brand lends to a product is something I have been saying for sometime now.

Here's a rather more involved take on the same thing, said differently: "When children acquire the name “George Washington” they typically acquire the associated descriptions “first president of the U.S.”, “man who had wooden teeth.” When they acquire “Santa Claus” they associate with the name “jolly fat man who lives at the North Pole” or “man who brings presents on Christmas day.” The negative existential “Santa Claus does not exist” expresses no literal truth. Still it pragmatically imparts truths: truths such as that there is no jolly fat man who lives at the North Pole and wears a red suit or that there is no one who brings presents to the world’s children on Christmas Day. These things, though not literally semantically expressed by the negative existential sentence, are true." More such absorbing insights can be found there.

Extract Ctrl x, Ctrl v'ed from: 'Names That Name Nothing' by Frederick Adams. Professor of Cognitive Science & Philosophy, University of Delaware.