A Rose By Any Other Name Might Make Some Cash

While leather pants haven’t made their way into the car pool lane, the stage name has.

This article from the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) describes the growing trend in name-changing among China’s entrepreneurs. Feng shui masters (not just for decorating) or Websites analyze names and offer replacements that promise prosperity. Just as Saul Hudson became Slash (there are no rock stars named Saul), Li Jun (“Handsome”) became Li Jiaming(“establishing a bright future”). The article cites estimates of more than a million other such changes, though the new names aren’t usually made official because of hassle and red tape.

Unlike with stage names, the business version isn’t purely for aesthetics; it’s about connecting with pre-Communist history, a fresh start, declaring personal freedom, and psychological assurance. It doesn’t always work out though. Li Lin, a Beijing insurance exec, switched back to her original name because she didn’t like the sound of her new one and other people found the change confusing.

But not as confusing as if she started calling herself the Executive Formerly Known as Li Lin. And that would have been tough to fit on her stationery.