From $50 for a list of suggestions to $475 for a numerologist to test the positive and negative associations of a certain name, the baby name business is booming. Sociologists and name researchers are reporting an increase in the level of stress that parents-to-be experience when choosing baby names.

Adding to the pressure are celebrities whose baby monikers read like bad science fiction or trendy cocktail names (see Pilot Inspektor Riesgraf-Lee and Apple Martin, respectively). Naming a baby can be like branding a product: Parents want their children to stand out without being too trendy.

Celebrities (think Apple Martin, Shiloh Jolie-Pitt and Pilot Inspektor Riesgraf-Lee) are helping to drive up the pressure. And the growing brand consciousness among consumers has made parents more aware of how names can shape perceptions. The result: a child’s name has become an emblem of individual taste more than a reflection of family traditions or cultural values. “We live in a marketing-oriented society,” says Bruce Lansky, a former advertising executive and author of eight books on baby names, including “100,000 + Baby Names.” “People who understand branding know that when you pick the right name, you’re giving your child a head start.” Read more

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