It’s been in the news this week that Snoop Dogg will be changing his name to Snoop Lion for his upcoming reggae album. I guess it sort of makes sense. He’s had a ton of success as a rapper. Why tarnish his good name? For branding purposes, it makes sense. It still has the recognizable Snoop name. Plus it’s been such a big story and he’s getting a ton of press out of it. It’s a decent way to promote a new album. This week’s Benchmark 5 focuses on my favorite celebrity name changes. We’re not talking adopting a stage name. We’re talking people that already made it big, then went for a different name altogether.

  1. Ron Artest to Metta World Peace. Artest was already one of the most infamous players in recent history in the NBA. Sure, he was at one point, and may still be, the best defensive player in the league. Then the Malice at the Palace left him suspended for almost an entire NBA season. Nobody can really explain why Ron Artest does things, but nobody could blame the guy for trying to get a fresh start.
  2. Chad Johnson to Chad Ochocinco. This colorful wide receiver has found a career outside of football thanks to being able to brand himself well on social media and in the press. Ochocinco was pure branding genius. It opened him up to a whole new word of marketing opportunities. He’s back to being Mr. Johnson now, as his new wife wasn’t keen on his made up moniker.
  3. Garth Brooks to Chris Gaines. Like Snoop, this country legend was trying to get out of his own genre. He even altered his image for the album’s cover photo. Once you’re as big as Garth Brooks, nobody is ever going to call you anything else.
  4. Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali. Unlike Brooks, there may be an entire generation (or more) that never knew Ali as Clay. However, he was well known before he made the switch. You can call yourself whatever you want, when everyone else is calling you The Greatest.
  5. Prince to the Love Symbol (aka The Artist…aka The Artist Formerly Known as Prince). I couldn’t even find on the Internet somewhere to copy & paste the actual symbol. Prince shed the name his momma gave him, in a protest over feeling entrapped by his label. Though he’s back to being Prince now, the symbol remains. A giant light-up version served as his stage when I saw him at his recent run at the Forum.