Last week we went to Eastern Kentucky to pick up our daughters who were attending an equestrian sleep-away camp. When we arrived, we noticed the other kids were calling our daughters by camp nicknames. For camp it was fun. One of my kids liked their name, while the other one didn’t care for it.
It struck me that nicknames given to you by your camp-mates are much like how public perception treat brands in the age of consumer participation. Kids that are popular or well liked proudly answer to “Braveheart” or “Gypsy Queen” while unpopular kids suffer the week as “Birdlegs” or “Pigpen.” They might like to change their name, or the name might be unfair, but as soon as more than one person talks about it, it sticks. Even with a huge effort, sometimes it cannot be corrected (e.g. giving other camp mates $40 to not call you that name for the rest of the week perhaps.) It would have been much easier to befriend the leaders of the group earlier, as good interaction skills can often make up for, well, bird-legs.
The first person likely talk about you in public circles holds amazing power if they are an influencer. If you hear the name early you might prevent the nickname spreading through some reputation management. Let things get out of hand and they will tell others your name… the problem is exponential… not much you can do about the name or perception.
What nickname would your customers give you?
photo by Katherine and used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License