About Her Name
How Pecanne got her name – and why it was an important lesson in branding
My Scottish mother wanted to ‘bless’ me with a unique and special name. Somehow she came up with Pecanne, which rhymes with Suzanne. She never imagined it would be mispronounced as the nut, pe-CAHN.
As you can imagine, I endured a lot of teasing throughout my childhood with inventive nut-related jokes. My mother used to tell me to be glad it was JUST my name people made fun of, while others were being teased about other things.
By fifth grade, I was so intent on changing my name. And I learned that I could legally change my name – but that I’d have to wait till the ripe old age of 18 to do it!
The Tipping Point
I came to school one beautiful day to find that my fifth-grade teacher had created an elaborate bulletin board display featuring the meanings of each student’s name! Yep, you know where this is going. With great trepidation I walked up to the massive bulletin board. And on there was an index card with my name that read: “Pecanne: Origin unknown. Meaning: a brown, hard-shelled nut (Webster’s Dictionary).”
This was devastating! I thought: Even my own teacher thinks I’m a “nut!”
Looking back at that day of infamy, this was one of my earliest lessons in how names have meanings.
Fortunately my mother was working as a nurse and studying child development in graduate school. When I came home that day, she picked up on my “devastation.”
After relating the day’s events – through titanic tears – my mother declared that my teacher was wrong about my name. She said, very calmly, “Only I know what your name really means because I’m the one who made it up.”
Then she took out an index card and wrote:
Uniquely charming and delightful.
The next day I took that little index card to school and showed it to my teacher (admittedly feeling a embarrassed about the whole “ordeal”). And to my relief, my teacher took the card and pinned it over the old definition she had on the board.
The Brand Lesson
On that day in the fifth grade, I got a new vision to aspire to because the meaning of my name had changed in an instant. I learned that in life we really can assign meanings to things and that meanings can be changed.
Ultimately, this is what I help my clients achieve with their brands. I help them assign the meaning they want their brands to have- whether it’s a company, product, service or program. And I help them follow that true north meaning. This process really helps my clients regain control of their brands and leverage them as business assets.