Brandon: Baby Name of the Day

Jason Priestley appeared as male lead Brandon ...

This post was originally published on June 15, 2010. It was substantially revised and re-posted on November 10, 2014.

From Beverly Hills, 90210 to a town near you, nearly everyone knows a nice guy with this name.

Thanks to Urban Angel for suggesting Brandon as Baby Name of the Day.

Brandon: From the 1950s to 90210

Decades before the zip code 90210 became associated with prime time drama, the name Brandon broke into the US Top 1000.

It wasn’t completely unknown before midcentury.  A handful of newborns received the name in the early twentieth century, but Brandon name was very rare until the 1950s.

English singer Johnny Brandon might get some credit for the name’s rise.  Or maybe it was parents looking for something similar to the Brad- names.  In the early 1950s, Brad, Bradley, and Bradford were all on the rise.

In Kathleen Woodwiss’ 1972 bestselling romance novel, The Flame and the Flower, the hero answered to Brandon.  Flame was huge in the 1970s, the equivalent of Fifty Shades of Gray today.  There’s a definite increase in baby Brandons during the years post-publication.

Brandon cracked the US Top 20 in the 1980s.  After Beverly Hills, 90210’s resident nice guy hit the small screen, the name tipped over into Top 10, and stayed there from 1992 to 1998.

How much did the series matter?  The show wasn’t much for launching names.  Other characters’ names were actually out of step with trends – Donna, Steve, and Brandon’s twin sister Brenda, all wore names that were appropriate, but certainly not trend-setting.  Only nice guy Brandon, and, of course, bad boy Dylan, stood out as taste-makers.

But young Mr. Walsh was likable, and the numbers suggest that Brandon’s long stay in the Top Ten owes more than a little to 90210.

Brandon: Deep Roots

Brandon appears as a surname and a place name over the years, with several possible origins:

  • Take the Old English brom – as in the hardy shrub known as broom or gorse – and combine with dun – hill – and you have a descriptive place name.
  • In Lincolnshire, the Brant River probably gets its name from a word meaning steep, as in the river banks there.
  • The Old Norse name element Brand means sword, and can be found in names like Hildebrand.
  • It might also be a form of Brendan – prince.

Aristocratic Brandons figured in English history as early as the 1400s.  It was even rumored that the much-married Henry VIII had his eye on Catherine Willoughby, a member of the Brandon clan, for a possible wife #7.

Brandon: Modern Staple

Today, Brandon feels like as conventional as Jason or Brian.

There are ever so many well-known Brandons, including:

  • The late Brandon Lee, star of The Crow and son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee.
  • Actor Brandon Routh played the Man of Steel in the 2006 entry in the Superman franchise.
  • Viva la Bam skateboarder-turned-reality-star Bam Margera was born Brandon.
  • Music gives us The Killers’ frontman, Brandon Flowers.

Add in a few athletes and other men of accomplishment, and it is easy to see Brandon as an ordinary Joe.

Game of Thrones – a show that has propelled names to the top – includes Bran Stark, whose full name is Brandon.

As of 2013, the name still ranked #70 – a handsome name on the wane, maybe more likely to be the dad than the son, but still very wearable for a boy today.

What do you think of Brandon?  Is he a fading trend, or a modern classic?

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12 Comments

I named my eldest son Brandyn. We weren’t keen on Brayden and wasnt sold on Brandon so we mixed them and came up with Brandyn 🙂 it wasn’t a name that we had heard of before and loved it.

Have an 11 month old named Ryan and thinking he might like a Brandon as a lil brother. I consider the name Irish considering Mount Brandon, Brandon Hill, etc. Obviously it has strong English roots as well. Seems like a nice variant to Brendan. I like Brendan but seem more drawn to Brandon. Suggestions welcome.

I think Brandon is a fantastic name – even though I just counted 13 that I know personally – and all within a year or two of 25 years old. Brandon is a likeable guy, probably good looking, probably easy going … I can’t think of a Brandon I don’t like!

My older brother is Brandon and I was very nearly Brenda. Thank God I wasn’t. I really do dislike matchy matchy names for siblings.

My nephew’s name is Brandon, he’s 11. It may be popular and all, but it’s a great name for a boy. It’s a nice name to say a lot, it fits any personality, it’ll never be made fun of. I think it’s a really strong and solid choice. I don’t see it as dated at all, personally. I went to school with one and so did my husband, but those are the only 80s baby Brandons I know of. I also like Brendan a lot, it was one of my favorites when I was in high school.

I know a lot of Brandons that are around my age-including my cousin’s husband. That being said, it’s a nice name, but seems too 80’s and 90’s to use on a modern little guy. It’s still a nice name, even if I don’t think it’s usable today.

Brandon is still really popular in Minnesota… Landon is even more so. I don’t dislike Brandon, in fact I know some really great kids named Brandon, but any Brandon born today will be known as Brandon last initial.

(Now Genista is a name I could possibly fall in love with.

I like (not love) Brandon. He’s warm and familiar unlike Landon (who probably is a snob and owns a boat) or Braydon (who is a hipster and reminds me of a donkey). I’ve only known one in my life – a good association – and though I never considered naming anyone Brandon, it’s not a bad name for a side character.

I have, of course, known many Brandons. However, the relationship has never been close, so the first thing I thought of when I saw this listed at the NotD was Colonel Brandon from Sense and Sensibility. I’ve always found him quite an intriguing character, both in the novel itself and in the 1995 film where he was brought to life by Alan Rickman.

Brandon is fine, but just as it was beautifully explained, I know so many my age or a bit younger… it feels dated…. 80s dated… like Jessica and Tiffany. It’s just hard for me to get excited about the name… or Brendon or Brenton or Brian…

Thank you for doing this as the NOTD!

I REALLY love Irish names, but for someone reason I much prefer Brandon to Brendan.I now Brandon is in the Irish top 100, so I can sort of fool myself into thinking it’s an Irishey choice lol
The downfall with Brandon is his popularity and familarity.I’d be interested to see where he would rank it 10 or 20 years. I’ve only ever come across 3 and they were in their late 20s to mid 30s.Brandon isn’t amazing – at all, but there’s something warm and pleasant about him. It’s a personal favourite of mine and one that I could definitely imagine using.He also works very well with a lot of different names
I don’t think of him as a classic, so much as a traditional name. Charles,James, Christoper,William,Oliver are classic names, whereas Brandon,Dylan,Ryan,Morgan are traditional. A classic is a name that has been constantly in use for at least 100 years (more like 200 or so for me) and that you will see on all ages. A classic is something that feels like it has ALWAYS been around . This is just my own personal perception of it – MANY others will disagree.
Overall, it’s not amazing and not for everyone, but it has a very pleasant sound (to my ears)