The pros vote yea or nay on Puff Daddy's evolution

By Evan Serpick
April 05, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Sean Combs: Dennis Van Tine/LFI

Just when we had purged our word processing programs of Prince’s old glyph, along comes Sean ”Puffy” Combs. In a March 28 interview, the artist formerly known as Puff Daddy announced his new moniker: P. Diddy. ”[If you see] ‘Puffy’ in the paper, it has a lot of baggage with it,” said the hip hop impresario, who was recently cleared of gun possession and bribery charges. ”I just need a fresh start.” Combs won’t legally change his name and insists he won’t be as much of a stickler as another perpetual alias maker: ”I am not doing it as serious as Prince — I’m not gonna be just crazy with it.”

Phew. Still, experts in the name game offer Combs a split decision. ”I don’t think P. Diddy really helps him,” says Lynn Haviland, president of name consulting firm Applebaum Associates, who christened Surge for Coca-Cola and Snackwells for Nabisco. ”A ditty is a short simple song of little or no importance. It trivializes what he does.” Rival name pro James Dettore of Brand Institute disagrees: ”It’s really quite clever,” he says of the swap. ”’Puff Daddy’: It’s old, it’s staid. This new ‘P. Diddy’ is younger, it’s fresh.” Freshly acquitted, that is.

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