Baby Names and Branding ~ A Conversation with Branding Expert, Samantha Ettus

Social Media provides a space for me to work and play. I have always seen it as an open field—an opportunity throughout the course of my day, evening, or insomnia-laden night to meet, discuss, source, promote, and learn. One of the first people that I ‘met’ on Twitter was Samantha Ettus (@SamanthaEttus). Samantha is a leader and expert on personal branding and working moms. I was drawn in by her tweets, which led me to her blog, and we would connect on Twitter to check in and say hello.

Late one night, trying to get to sleep, I was flipping channels on the TV—as I frequently do to get my mind to quiet down—and there she was! It was the premiere episode of Rosie Pope’s show on Bravo, Pregnant in Heels.  Samantha was pregnant with her third baby—her first son—and the episode was centred around choosing the perfect name for her new baby. She and her husband came up with a list of ‘rules’ that included: easy to spell, not too popular, not decorative, not starting with E or R (as her daughters’ already do), and not ending in the letter S. What followed was a production that included a focus group of various experts in different fields, a dinner party to vet the short-list, and some serious talk about what her son’s name would say to the world about her, her family, and how it would set him up for life.

I had a chance to sit down with Samantha to talk through her thoughts and experience searching for a name on reality TV.

Candace: Your baby’s name as a brand and a first impression—I love this. What were some of your ‘rules’ and ‘wants’ when you were choosing a name?

Samantha: A child is subject to whatever name their parents choose, and common sense and studies show that a name strikes a first impression. Whether on a resume or Twitter, we make assumptions based on a name. For that reason, we didn’t just use a dart board to choose our children’s names. We didn’t want our children to spend their lives spelling their first names for people, and we wanted to give them names that were somewhat universally liked.

Was choosing baby #3′s name different than 1 and 2? Was it different because he was a he and your first two are girls?

We had gone over the top in naming our first two children, Ella and Ruby, so my husband and I felt pressure to think of what we could do that we hadn’t done before. That was where the Bravo show came into play. Baby naming is a challenge, but an important one. It is one of the few parenting decisions that lasts a lifetime, and there are remarkably few tools to help you, unless you are following a fixed set of traditions or picking from the top 10 list.

You are a Branding Expert, with a book on the baby yearsdid you really need a focus group and a dinner party to poll your friends, or was that all for the show?

We came up with the idea for the focus group and the think tank, and the producers ate it up. It was hard for us to come up with any naming things we hadn’t already done on our own. With our first baby, we sat around the pool asking friends all summer which names they liked and didn’t like. We had mixed our favourites and least favourites in advance, without revealing which was which, so that they would be honest. With our second baby, we read 14,000 baby names out loud to each other on the beach, so that we left no stone unturned. We are passionate and like to go over the top with a fun topic, like baby naming.

In the end, you went with Bowen Asher, a name that both Rosie’s focus group and dinner party didn’t favour.
How did you get there?

We did put a lot of weight on what our friends thought and what the think tank thought. As for the focus group, they loved the name Steve, which hasn’t been used for a new baby in years. Once they fell in love with Steve, we knew these were not our peeps. There is a lag in adapting to a name you haven’t heard before. What you didn’t see, two of the experts in the think tank e-mailed us after the taping to say that Bowen had emerged as their first choice!

Samantha Ettus is a bestselling author and media personality, passionate about coaching and advising working moms. Samantha hosts a nationally syndicated radio show for working moms and writes a blog for Forbes Woman. She has made over 1,000 TV appearances and speaks regularly to working moms around the country. You can find her on Twitter at @SamanthaEttus and her blog at Forbes.




My Twitter Ah-ha Moment

There are about a million reasons why I think Twitter is so great – but this was my initial “ah-ha” moment.

Eric had been @ThatEricAlper for a few months and he would be there at the computer for what felt like hours on end tweeting and retweeting. As if Facebook and all of the other social media platforms that he was involved with weren’t taking enough of his time, now this Twitter was part of his life – and by marriage – mine too. He was discovering the many opportunities and benefits that were there for the taking, one tweet at a time. He was meeting new people, networking, laughing and sharing. He sang its praises and urged me to get involved. I resisted. Strongly. I’m busy – I have a daughter, a business and a house to take care of. I had a great group of like-minded business women that I network with. I have friends to visit with that I don’t see nearly enough of. What did I need to get involved with another social media site for? He’s persistent. He’s smart. More often than not, he knows what he’s talking about. I gave in. We sat down together and got a Twitter account set up for me @NameYourTuneCDs. Still I was resistant and for the first few weeks my Twitter voice was actually Eric.

One night I gave in and sat down give Twitter my undivided positive attention. It went on for hours. I couldn’t pull myself away. The roles were reversed and it was Eric who kept coming downstairs to the office to ask “when are you coming to bed?” “you’re still at it” “ok, I’m going to sleep”. That last one was at about 2 o’clock in the morning. For the first time, our roles were reversed.

Because Eric had started my Twitter account, I was following a lot of bloggers that included social media, music, family and moms. Most of them were not people that I knew personally. It began slowly, tweets of condolence, love and support for mom whose young daughter passed away from complications that were the result of being born more than 11 weeks prematurely. Heather Spohr chronicled her pregnancy and life with Maddie through her blog The tweets grew in number, urgency and emotion. The hardest thing for a mother to witness is the loss experienced by another mother. Here were hundreds of women from across the US and Canada , reaching out to offer their support. I couldn’t tear myself away. Then, slowly, the avatars in my stream started turning purple – it was Maddie’s favourite colour.

One of my oldest and dearest friends had a little boy that lived for only a few days due to complications with his lungs. She was the first of my friends to have a baby. It was a dark moment. To this day my friend will tell you that what helped the most was knowing that there were people that were thinking about her. There was nothing we could do. All of the casseroles, lattes, loves of home-baked banana bread could not fill her loss. The love from friends and her community is what she needed.

I saw an offer from @temptingsam to help turn your avatar purple and how could I not? Within 10 minutes Samantha (who I had not met before that moment) emailed me my purple-washed avatar. That night I became part of a community of women who were rallying to support a mother in need. These women and mothers were offering support and sharing in the grief of another. I tweeted that night more than I had in the weeks since I signed up to Twitter. The relationships became real. That night it became clear to me that Twitter offered up so much more than networking and promoting. Through my eyes that night it became a place to share, to give and take. It was powerful and lasting. I get chilled and warm at the same time when I think back to that night.

Twitter also gives people the opportunity to do more than talk – it often compels people to act. In the weeks that followed dozens of Marches for Maddie were organized across the country to raise money in her memory for the March of Dimes. 

In the year-and-a-half since then I have never doubted the ROI of Twitter. The community that lives there celebrates, laughs, grieves and cries. It is a community that shares everything from struggles to triumphs and all of the mundane things that happen in between. The over-riding characteristics are support and presence. What we are need and crave the most, it’s right there on your desktop.

I have been fortunate enough to take my desktop experience of Twitter to the real world. It’s like being able to walk around on the set of your favourite movie or sitcom – but better – these people are real.


Originally published at

We Are Here


We are here.

We are authentic and transparent.

We are writers, bloggers, entrepreneurs, mompreneurs and mommybloggers. We are social media.

We are organized, we are hoarders, we are discombobulated.

We watch reality TV, we watch the news, we watch Glee, we watch the documentaries and soap operas.

We watch too much TV. So do our kids. We don’t watch TV at all. Neither do our kids.

We are Mac. We are PC. We have iPhones. We have Blackberries.

We wear Crocs, high heels, Uggs and Birkenstocks.

We co-sleep. We let them cry it out. We are baby-wearers.

We breastfeed. We bottlefeed. We pump. We use formula. We wanted to. We had to.

We monetize our blogs. We get sponsored to attend conferences. We pay our own way. We don’t go.

We love swag. We won’t accept swag. We’ll take this, not that.

We live in the city. We live in the suburbs.

We care about the environment, politics, healthcare, the clothes we wear,
music, pop culture and yoga.

We say zee or zed. We use the letter U when we spell colour and honour. Or we don’t.

We are happy married. We are single moms. We just got engaged.

We like classic, bluegrass, alternative, folk, jazz and pop. We’re a little bit country.

We drink coffee and tea. Starbucks and Tim Hortons. Coke and Pepsi.

We swear online as we do when we talk to our friends. We cannot imagine writing that word.

We have been here for a long time. We are new to this space.

We are huggers, kissers, hand-holders and handshakers. We keep our hands to ourselves.

We conceived the first time we tried. We have not been able to conceive at all. We had a surrogate. We adopted.

We have lost children, husbands, parents and siblings.

We had our babies at home and in hospitals. We have had c-sections. We have used doulas, midwives and had epidurals.

We have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 children. We have no children by choice. We have no children because we can’t. We’re not ready to have children.

We homeschool. Our kids go to public school. Our kids go to private school.

We blog alone or as part of communities. We work alone. We have partners. We sell products and services.

We are successful. We are where we want to be. We’re working on getting where we want to be.

We’re moving on, up or out. We’re moving too fast. We’re not moving fast enough.

We are outspoken. We are afraid to say what we really think.

We are energetic. We are lazy. We are bored. We are inspired. We are engaged.

We are happy, content, ashamed, lonely, angry, fulfilled and searching.


Originally published at October 2011 reflecting on Blissdom Canada 2011.