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To Make Lots of Money, You’ve Got to Be a Total Dirk

Why men with one-syllable names almost always earn more money

Names like Brad and Chad may be synonymous with “douchebag.” But according to a new study, those guys earn more money — and it has nothing to do with their douche chills. According to a study from German job portal site Adzuna, men with one syllable names tend to bring home bigger bucks.

“The highest earner among male names was Dirk, earning an average of €120,200 [$148,128], with other onesies also scoring high on the income hierarchy,” reported The Local Germany last month. “Klaus can count on a good €100,237 [$123,527] before taxes with Hans bringing in just shy of €96,400 [$118,799].”

The company analyzed the resumes of the top 5,541 earners in Germany and in doing so, it found that adding just one syllable to a name can potentially lead to a €40,000 [$49,294] drop in average salary.

“In the case of two syllable names, the average salary dropped to €79,752 [$98,282],” reported The Local Germany. “For three syllable ones, those average earnings further dipped to €73,030 [$89,999].”

While this news might surprise you, it’s hardly the first study of its kind. In 2013, Forbes reported on a similar study conducted by American online job matching site TheLadders. They too found that on average, the shorter your first name, the more money you’re likely to make. In fact, the analysis — which took into consideration nearly 6 million names — found that even a single letter can make a big difference.

“The data show each extra letter ‘costs’ you about $3,600 in annual salary,” TheLadders told Forbes. They also found that the perfect number of letters to have in a first name is five — sorry Brad and Chad.

According to a 2013 Business Insider article on the phenomenon, LinkedIn have also researched this connection: “LinkedIn discovered a similar correlation between short names and success in 2011, when it analyzed the top CEO names around the world. The site’s analysts found that the most popular ones — names like Peter, Jack and Fred — were either already short names or shortened versions of common first names.”

Funny enough, the same correlation between success and shorter names holds true for naming your business, too. In 2017, Amit Karp, writing for CTECH, wrote about how, “for startups, shorter names spell more money.”

“107 U.S.-based unicorns — startups valued at $1 billion or more — tend to have shorter names compared to around a thousand U.S.-based startups, that held Series A or B funding rounds this year,” writes Karp. “The median unicorn name is eight characters long while the median startup name is ten characters long.”

Which makes sense — the shorter the name, the easier it is to remember. “When we do taglines, we make it short and concise,” Alex R., an art director at a prominent creative agency in L.A., tells me. “The more information you put out there, the more likely it is to be mistaken. The same holds true for the names of brands. Names that are shorter are easier to recognize and remember.”

Another reason why shorter names are more common in brand creation, Alex continues, is because they can seem more familiar. “I’ve met so many Johns, I can immediately attach that name to some sort of meaning.” To his point, Frank Nuessel, a names specialist cited in the same Business Insider article, told LinkedIn in 2011 about how even abbreviated names can be used to “denote a sense of friendliness and openness.”

“Abbreviated names are just a way to keep it more casual,” says Alex. “For example, Alexander sounds different than Alex. Alex sounds casual and like something you’d call your best friend. Alexander sounds like your mom is yelling at you from the other side of the house.”

As for why dudes with shorter names take home more pay? It’s pretty much the same thing. According to a statement of the Germany and Austria country manager at Adzuna, as cited in The Local Germany, people could associate names that are harder to pronounce with an employee who might be difficult to work with. “A ‘name pronunciation effect’ leads people to associate hard to pronounce names with difficult personalities, as the American Journal for Experimental Psychology also found,” The Local Germany reported her as saying.

So much for naming my son Beauregard.