I saw this blurb in the Guardian a couple of days ago. All the students mentioned have distinctive names, and although some (like the person named Fragile) have run into problems like having to constantly explain or even change their names, others (looking at you Xanthe) have noticed benefits. Having a name that helps people remember you is awesome.
For some people like me, we remember people more easily through their names than their faces. And, there’s something to be said about a unique name. Where there’s a unique name, there’s often a really interesting story about that person. And, as much as I may love names like Emma or William, I’m far more likely to ask about Mariel or Annalene.
Lately I’ve been remembering some actors because of their unusual names. I started watching House of Cards last week and two of the actors have such distinguished names as Sakina and Mahershala – the latter originally being short for Mahershalalhashbaz, considered by some to be the longest name in the Bible. Considering that I think they’re also rather minor actors right now, I definitely wouldn’t remember who they were without the those names. (Side note: Seriously, how cool a name is Mahershalalhashbaz?!)
More generic names do have their benefits though, I’m sure. Just as someone can be remembered for their great deeds, they may also be remembered by their misdeeds. And if privacy is an issue, I imagine a John Smith could much more-easily disappear into the crowd than an Apollodorus Smith. But if memorability is what you want, who will indeed remember John Smith?