These days, the lines between given names and brand names are growing ever more blurry. You don't have to look far to see some of the reasons why. For one, plenty of brands names are actually based on the name of the owner or inventor, or for some other reason are derived from already established given names. Think Armani, Wendys, Estee Lauder, Barbie or Reeses, just to name a few. And now that last names as first names have become increasingly popular the scope has widened even further. Then there are brand names that are based on words, particularly from nature or places. Milo, Lynx and Apple may not be common on the playground, but they're not completely unheard of. Yet to some they are just brands of hot drinks, men's deodorant and electronic products.
Then there is a slightly different breed of brand-names-come-baby-names. Those names that are specifically invented as a brand name, and have no origins or use as a given name until after the brand was invented.
That's not to say that these are unusable as names exactly. When you think about it, it's understandable why we would feel attracted to a word we hear every day, especially a word that represents something we admire, respect or aspire to. For example, Lexus brand cars were first introduced to the US in 1989, and the name Lexus subsequently debuted on the U.S SSA charts in 1990 for both girls and boys. Lexus is a name invented by parent company Toyota, loosely meaning "luxury edition cars for the US". You may not be able to afford one of these luxury cars, but that doesn't mean you can't add some of their sophistication and style to your household. In theory.
Shiseido is a name that falls into this latter category.
Shiseido was specifically created for the Shiseido brand. According to the Shiseido website:
"the name Shiseido was taken from a passage in I Ching, the classic Chinese Book of Changes, as it suggests some of the most ancient human wisdom still relevant today.
The last four characters of the Japanese translation (Ban Batsu Shi Sei) means, "Praise the value of the great Earth, which nurtures new life and brings forth new values".
These few syllables encapsulate the philosophy of Shiseido as a company, as a brand, as a citizen of the world".
It's an exotic sounding word with the currently cool "O" ending and quite a beautiful meaning. Plus it has the benefit of associations with youth, beauty and style. Yet it's a name that not many children bear - Shiseido has never appeared in the American charts, possibly because it may be a little hard to wear. Using it as a name would almost overwhelmingly make people think of the brand, so it could be considered a brave and distinctive choice for a daughter.
Personally, I think that Shiseido falls into a similar category as the name Khaleesi. Both were invented to convey a concept, and weren't originally intended to be used as a given name. Yet both have a cool, lyrical sound; a romantic fantasy-like feel; and possibly represent something empowering to some people. They may even be quite well matched for a pair of sisters.
Would I use them myself? No. But I can understand why some people would find them attractive and appealing enough to use.
I can't help but feel that the debate around the suitability of invented and brand names as given names is one that we will only see a lot more of in the future. Names are "invented" all the time, often just for their sound. They're not really that much different to those invented for a brand. At least Shiseido was invented to mean something, and something beautiful at that. What do you think - does Shiseido have potential as a name, or not?