What’s in a Persona Name?: Naming Personas Using A Data-Driven Approach

 All About the Name: Assigning Demographically Appropriate Names to Data-Driven Entities
All About the Name: Assigning Demographically Appropriate Names to Data-Driven Entities

“Call me Ishmael.”
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)

Names are an incredibly important part of a people’s identity, carrying societal, personal, cultural, religious, ethnic, and/or nationality impressions. A name conveys the groups, communities, and population of a person or even a fictitious character (as in the case of Ishmael, the narrator in the book, Moby Dick) . Names can have a psychological effect, and they can trigger emotional responses in others.

Names are also essential elements of personas.

Most personas are named in some way. Just like with real people, names do matter, and the names can influence the use, acceptance, and impact of personas. Names help stakeholders communicate about personas by affording the ability to refer to the personas by their names, which also helps in humanizing the personas.

Given the importance of the name, it is surprising how little information and services are available for the naming of personas.

Just as we do with nearly all aspects of APG personas, we take a data-driven approach to the naming. If stakeholders are to view the personas as real users (or customers), the personas need to have a realistic, suitable, and believable name. The APG data-driven naming approach addresses this requirement. 

We developed a method for assigning demographically appropriate names to data-driven entities, such as personas. The value of this method is removing the time-consuming human effort in this task.

To demonstrate our method, we collect four million user profiles with gender, age, and country information from an international online social network. From this dataset, we obtain 1, 031, 667 unique names covering 3, 088 demographic group combinations that our method considers as gender, age, and nationality appropriate. A manual evaluation by raters from 34 countries shows a demographic appropriateness score of 85.6%. The demographically appropriate names can be utilized for data-driven personas, as well as virtual agents, chatbots, and other humanized entities.

We leverage an expanded database for naming APG personas.

You are welcome to use the application from this research, GAN2Name that provides most likely names for the given demographic. “GAN” stand for “Gender, Age, Nationality”.

Read the research:

​Jung, S.G., Salminen, J., and Jansen, B. J. (2021) All About the Name: Assigning Demographically Appropriate Names to Data-Driven Entities. 54th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS 2021) Koloa, Hawaii, United States. 5-8 Jan. 2021. p. 4034-4042