Metaphor brand names: The pros and cons of metaphorical business names

Metaphor Brand Names

Metaphor brand names are among the most popular types of monikers a company can choose to highlight its identity and connect with customers. Any business name should convey important information to your target audience about who you are and what you stand for. 

A metaphorical brand name can be an excellent way to achieve this goal. 

Unlike descriptive titles, which tell your customers what you do or sell, metaphorical brand names highlight your brand’s unique essence or spirit. They’re unique, disruptive titles that stick in the minds of your customers and push them to think more carefully about your business. 

Consider the name “Amazon,” for instance. It doesn’t tell you exactly what the company does, but it does help you to imagine something huge and exotic. The name “Jaguar” makes you think of something sleek, powerful, and fast – perfect for a vehicle company. 

Today, we’ll look at the pros and cons associated with metaphor brand names to help you decide whether one of these titles is suitable for your company.

Metaphor Brand Names

What is a metaphorical brand name?

A metaphor is a figure of speech connecting a concept to a specific idea or emotion. Metaphorical brand names are one of the many types of business names organizations can choose to represent themselves to their target audience. 

With metaphor brand names, companies aim to evoke a response from their audience using our existing connotations with certain words. 

Monster, for example, is the name of a huge job site. We often associate the word “Monster” with large, aggressive things. This helps the company highlight its significant database and ability to quickly assist jobseekers in tracking the ideal role. 

Metaphor company names are highly emotive. They showcase a company’s unique qualities or characteristics without being overly obvious or descriptive. However, metaphors are often socially and culturally defined, which can make them a little more complex to use in the branding world.  

How a consumer views or responds to a certain word will depend on several factors. Some people might see the name “Monster” as scary, while others see it as positive. 

On the plus side, even if your customers aren’t 100% sure what you’re trying to convey with a metaphorical title, the unique nature of the name encourages more profound thought.

When a company uses a metaphor for a brand name, it pushes customers to want to learn more about that business and what it stands for. This could mean your business name helps you to activate and engage your audience more than other types of titles.

Metaphor Brand Names

What are the pros of metaphorical brand names?

As emotional, evocative, and engaging names, metaphor brand names can be extremely beneficial. Metaphors are all about creating a “symbolic” identity for your brand. Metaphors are fluid concepts that can tell an important story about your brand. 

They’re more exciting and meaningful than a standard descriptive name or founder brand name. However, metaphorical names also aren’t as confusing as invented titles. 

The words you choose to represent your brand will already have a place in the culture of your target audience, so you don’t have to start generating meaning from scratch. 

With metaphorical brand names, companies show they’re about more than simply selling a product or service. This can pave the way for deeper audience connections and more valuable long-term relationships. 

Some of the most significant benefits of metaphorical business names include the following:

Flexibility

A metaphorical brand name doesn’t tell your customers exactly what your business does. Instead, it focuses on what your company stands for, giving you more room to evolve and grow naturally over the years.

It would be best if you didn’t have to rebrand your business numerous times with a metaphorical business name.

Emotion

Metaphors naturally connect with our emotions and our understanding of the world. They directly impact how your customers feel and help them connect certain concepts with your business. 

For example, Jaguar makes us think of something powerful, elegant, and fast, which generates interest in the brand. 

Creativity

You can create a more unique and interesting name with a metaphor brand name, ideal for setting yourself apart from other competing brands. 

You’re not just following the status quo but asking your customers to view a deeper component of your brand, which paves the way for more intimate brand connections. 

Brand awareness

Used correctly, metaphor company names can inspire customers to talk more about your brand. These titles get your audience thinking about what your business stands for and what makes you unique. 

This can spread brand awareness and enhance brand recognition, giving you the foundations you need for growth.

Storytelling

A metaphorical brand name is an excellent way to immediately tell a story about your brand without using a complex or lengthy name. You can say something unique about your essence, personality, and identity in a single word. 

Just look at how the company “Innocent” immediately tells us everything we need to know about the nature of the brand.

Metaphor Brand Names

What are the cons of a metaphorical name?

Used effectively, metaphorical brand names have a lot of power. They can connect you to your audience on a deeper level while differentiating your business from the competition. However, they also have some limitations.

As mentioned above, metaphors have different meanings depending on where you are in the world; this could mean certain words limit your brand growth.

Metaphorical names can also be confusing. When you choose a metaphorical title, some customers may need help understanding what you’re trying to convey.

Unlike descriptive names, a metaphorical title doesn’t tell your audience what your company does or what you sell, so it can be difficult for them to determine whether you’re the solution they need.

Some of the most significant downsides of metaphor brand names include the following:

Geographical reach

Metaphors have different impacts depending on where you are in the world. Companies will need extensive research into their target audience and the linguistic concepts they’re familiar with. 

This will ensure you can grow your business globally without worrying about sending the wrong message. 

Confusion

Customers who don’t immediately understand your metaphor won’t always be ready to dive in and discover more. A confusing metaphor can damage your brand equity and make it difficult for customers to understand what you stand for. 

This is why it’s so important to research your options carefully. 

Brand alignment

If you choose a metaphor for your brand name, you must ensure your brand identity and values align with your chosen title. Customers will quickly abandon companies who make a specific “promise” with their name, which they don’t fulfill. 

Metaphors should never be a gimmick; they need to be underpinned by genuine attributes. 

Brand ownership

Unlike invented names and creative titles, metaphors involve using existing words. This can make it challenging to trademark your brand and could mean you have more competition when trying to choose the right moniker. 

Ensure you do your due diligence to determine if other companies are using similar names. 

Investment

Because a metaphorical brand name requires a company to have deep and consistent brand values and attributes, it comes with a heavy investment. You need to be able to commit to showcasing how your business aligns with your name by using the right brand assets and marketing components.

Famous metaphorical brand names

Like any distinctive business name, metaphorical brand names have a range of pros and cons to consider. If you’re planning on using a metaphor name for your company, it’s important to research your target audience, your brand identity, and your business plan. 

Sometimes, it’s helpful for business owners to examine some examples of metaphorical brand names when they’re getting started. Looking at pre-existing companies who have succeeded with their own metaphorical titles can help inspire you and give your team additional guidance. 

Here are some great examples of metaphorical brand names.

Metaphor Brand Names

Jaguar

If you’re familiar with the automotive world, you already know Jaguar. As mentioned above, this company has a fantastic example of a metaphorical business name. The name “Jaguar” instantly connects the business with all of the defining characteristics of the Jaguar animal. 

We imagine something sleek, sophisticated, and powerful, with amazing strength and agility. 

Metaphor Brand Names

Casper

Casper is an interesting example of a metaphorical company name. The mattress and bedding company likely chose its name, focusing on the underlying meaning of the title, which stands for “Treasure.” 

However, some people also connect this business with the ghostly character of Casper, known throughout popular culture. It’s a title that conveys something soft, ethereal, and valuable. 

Metaphor Brand Names

Monster

Monster.com is an employment website with a global presence. The company launched in 1999 with a title designed to convey its significant market impact. The term “Monster” has several connotations. 

It connects with the stressful experience candidates usually have when searching for a job and encourages them to tackle the “monster” of employment. The title is also associated with size, highlighting the vast number of roles available on the platform. 

Metaphor Brand Names

Amazon

Perhaps one of the most famous examples of metaphorical brand names, Amazon is the moniker for the world’s largest and most popular online marketplace. The name connects to the “Amazon” river, one of the biggest in the world, which helps to highlight the sheer size and diversity of the platform. 

With this moniker, Amazon tells its customers they can find a wide range of items for a huge selection of different needs. 

Metaphor Brand Names

Oracle

Oracle is a multinational technology corporation and one of the largest software companies in the world. The company focuses on selling database software and technologies, enterprise tools, and cloud-engineered systems. 

The word “Oracle” is connected with foresight, vision, and innovation. This makes it a fantastic name for a company that provides businesses with the insights they need to make intelligent decisions about their future. 

Metaphor Brand Names

Pandora

You’re probably already familiar with the story of Pandora, and her secretive box, which holds all of the world’s evils. The Pandora jewelry company didn’t want to connect its business with “evil” when choosing its name. 

Rather, they wanted to highlight a sense of mystery and intrigue. The name makes us think of unique gifts and otherworldly ideas. It’s an interesting and engaging name for a jewelry brand. 

Metaphor Brand Names

Apple

Apple is both a metaphorical and evocative brand name. The title connects with biblical stories about the discovery of knowledge and the famous tale of Isaac Newton. The word “apple” is also something we frequently associate with freshness, nutrition, and growth. 

By choosing this name for its company, the Apple technology brand was able to set itself apart from the competition and highlight its different approach to the industry. The company has continued to address this with its marketing and branding strategies over the years. 

Metaphor Brand Names

Target

A target is something we use for pinpoint accuracy and precision. It helps to draw the eye and give us direction when achieving a specific goal. As such, this name has a lot of meaning for a company that helps consumers find a wide range of products for their various needs. 

The name “target” helps us imagine a store where we can instantly find the solutions to different problems. It’s also a highly versatile and flexible name. 

Metaphor Brand Names

Innocent

Innocent is a smoothie and juice beverage company that focuses on using only organic and natural ingredients within its products. The name “Innocent” makes us think of purity and trustworthiness. 

We can easily connect this name to the idea of a healthy, fresh, and untouched beverage that includes plenty of natural ingredients. Innocent’s fun and playful personality further enhances the name. 

Metaphor Brand Names

Dove

Another name connected with purity and innocence; “Dove” makes us think of the bird of love. The word is great for making us think of beautiful, natural things and helps to highlight Dove’s compassionate nature

Because Doves are a bird of flight, this name can also help to showcase Dove’s ever-evolving and forward-thinking approach to business. 

Metaphor Brand Names

Tinder

Tinder is one of the world’s most popular dating apps, thanks in part to its excellent branding strategy. When customers hear the word “Tinder,” they instantly think of a “spark,” something we look for in the romantic world. 

Tinder is also associated with fire, commonly connected to passion and love. It’s a wonderfully evocative name that helps us to imagine a growing romantic flame.

Metaphor Brand Names

Mars

Mars is the name of a confectionary and food brand with a huge global impact. The company’s title connects it to the concept of something “otherworldly.” As a result, we immediately think of big concepts like stars, planets, and the universe in general. 

The metaphorical company name chosen by Mars ensures it’s connected with experiences out of this world.

How to choose metaphorical business names

Metaphorical brand names can be fun, engaging, and brimming with meaning. With a metaphor business name, you can convey a unique idea of what your business stands for and immediately highlight the values which sponsor affinity for your brand. 

However, it’s easy to head in the wrong direction with a metaphorical business name, like any naming process. 

Metaphorical company names require a significant amount of research and forethought. You’ll need to understand your business’s underlying elements and promises before you start. It’s also crucial to have a deep knowledge of your target audience. 

For most companies, the easiest way to get started will be to access the help and guidance of a professional naming firm, which can do some of the due diligence on their behalf. 

Aside from working with the experts, here are some other tips you can follow:

Identify your brand

First, you’ll need to get a core understanding of the components that make your brand unique. Consider your values, vision, mission, and purpose and how you can convey these unique elements using metaphor. 

A metaphorical company name should provide instant insight into what makes your business unique without focusing too exclusively on your available products and services. 

Research your audience

Make sure you understand your target audience with your unique metaphor company name. You’ll need to ensure your chosen metaphor will resonate with the customers you’re trying to contact. 

This means doing some extensive market research and building some crucial user personas. Try to choose a globally recognizable metaphor.

Keep it simple

Refrain from making customers work to figure out what your metaphorical brand name really means. The unique essence you’re trying to convey with your name should be clear as soon as your customers see it. 

It’s also worth focusing on a single word, like Jaguar or Tinder. Multiple words can sometimes dilute the metaphor and make it more complicated to remember. 

Do your due diligence

Before choosing a specific metaphorical brand name, ensure there isn’t something too similar already available in the market. You want to avoid competing for brand share alongside a similar brand. 

At the same time, it’s worth researching your metaphor’s various meanings and whether you can access a domain name for your chosen title. 

Test your name

Consider running your metaphorical business name past some of the key members of your team. This will help you get insight into whether your chosen title makes the right emotional impact. Make a list of all your responses to your brand moniker, and ensure no conflicting ideas. 

Build your brand around your name

Use other branding assets and elements to enhance the impact of your chosen moniker. Everything from your tone of voice to your website design and logo should reflect the ideas you’re trying to highlight with your name. 

A metaphorical business name requires a careful and consistent approach to branding.

Exploring metaphorical company names

Metaphor brand names can be powerful, evocative, and highly meaningful titles for any business. With metaphorical business names, you can convey your company’s unique identity and values in a single word without relying on a descriptive title.

Used correctly, these powerful names are a fantastic way to connect with your target audience on a deeper level and pave the way for future growth. However, it’s important to consider your names carefully, as metaphors aren’t always as universal as they appear.

Take the time to research your audience and ensure your chosen title has the right impact and sends the correct message.

Fabrik: A naming agency for our times.

We’ve made our name famous by naming other businesses.

Get in touch if you have a company, product, or service that requires a unique name. Click below, and let’s start a conversation today!

Now read these: 
Types of brand names, the ultimate guide 
An in-depth guide to descriptive brand names
The pros and cons of abstract brand names
When to use an evocative brand name
Your guide to invented company names
Is a lexical brand name right for your business?
An insight into acronymic business names
Putting geographic brand names on the map
Should you name a business after yourself
Definitive guide to compound brand names 
Exploring the trend for modern brands names 
Is a playful business name right for you
Adding up alphanumeric company names 
Weighing up technical company names 
Getting to grips with historical brand names

Steve Harvey
Co-founder
Steve Harvey
Co-founder
Our co-founder, Steve Harvey, is also a regular contributor to Brand Fabrik, a flagship publication covering topics relevant to anyone in branding, marketing and graphic design. Steve shares his enthusiasm for brand naming through his articles and demonstrates his knowledge and expertise in the naming process.

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