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Types of Bullying: Name Calling

A rose by any other name smells just as sweet!

There are many types of bullying. Through this series we’ve been exploring them.

Today we’re discussing: Name Calling.

We’ve all been called names at one point or another in our lives. Some of mine growing up were:

  • Fat Matt
  • Fatso
  • Fattie Fat Fat
  • Big Butt
  • Jumbo Jones

…And a whole host of others that involve vulgarity, so I’m going to not post them.

The thing is that “just ignore it” isn’t a viable solution to the problem. Most people don’t understand the true power of a name.

Your name is your brand. When people hear it they have an immediate positive or negative emotional reaction. Your name represents everything you are in the hearts and minds of others.

Take “Coca-Cola” as an example. They spend billions of dollars every year controlling the emotions people associate with their name. They want you to associate happiness with Coke.

Think about their commercials. What does Santa drink? It’s not milk anymore, it’s Coke. Heck, if their marketing is to be believed giving everyone a Coke would institute world peace!

I hate to compare human beings with consumer products, but the same principle applies. Your name is your brand.

When a bully gives you a new name, they’re redefining your brand. Taking control of it. Associating negative feelings with it. With this one simple act the bully can take control of your identity and the perception others have of you.

That’s a powerful thing. It’s very hard to change the perception of a brand, especially once it’s turned negative. That’s why many companies just change names altogether. It’s easier than changing people’s minds about what a brand stands for.

Do you think “Enron” has much value left as a brand? What about “AIG” or “BP”?

The world’s biggest companies wouldn’t blow untold amounts of cash controlling the perception of their names if it didn’t work.

I’m not saying most school yard bullies understand this on a conceptual level. They merely see that it works. It’s kind of like a cave man discovering fire but not really understanding what they’re encountering.

As adults, it’s up to us to treat the issue with the gravity it deserves. One of the biggest issues we have is combating the idea that certain forms of bullying, like name calling, are insignificant.

Now we know better. It’s up to us to teach kids how to be respectful to each other, and how to take control of their own personal brands when it comes under fire from a bully.

Image by Jack Dorsey licensed under Creative Commons.

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