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Fundamentally, stories are about connection. They offer universals for everyone to relate to, and they establish common experiences between people. In business, storytelling can be a powerful tool, especially when it comes to branding. But, what if we told you that you can also use your brand name to tell a story?

Applying stories to your business name may seem impossible. Most brand names are only one or two words. How can a story fit inside that?

Related: The 7 key elements of brand identity design + 10 corporate identity examples

Story-driven names use metaphors and references, like Nike and Amazon. Nike is the Greek goddess of victory. Amazon refers to the largest forest on earth. From these metaphorical names, we can tease out intriguing stories.

  • Nike's story leads us on a journey of achievement and victory—powerful associations for an athletic wear brand.
  • Amazon's metaphor speaks to discovery and the endless, nourishing variety found in the rainforest.

Story-driven names are intriguing. They draw people in. They also have the added bonus of setting up an association between your brand and an established story. Every story provides a foundation of connection and values.

Here are some great examples of brand names that tell a story.

Robinhood

We're all familiar with the tale of the heroic bandit Robin Hood, who stole from the rich to give to the poor. There have been countless adaptations of this story, which focuses on the values of helping others and fairly redistributing wealth. One company has had great success by taking on this story as a business name.

Robinhood is a financial services company that started out as an app which allowed people to invest in public stock without having to pay commission fees. When you visit its website, the first thing you see is a tagline: "Investing. Now for the Rest of Us." This solidifies its connection to the values of the Robin Hood story, because it aims to make investing less exclusive and more accessible to the average person.

By using the well-known story, Robinhood sets itself up as a fair platform and something of a hero in the realm of finance.

Sunlight

Sunlight is a startup with a captivating metaphor behind its name. According to its website, "Sunlight helps companies grow a highly engaging learning culture by facilitating their team's access to any course, book or event in the world." This idea of growth is what inspired their name.

We inquired directly about their name, and they responded back on Twitter: "We believe every living thing depends on the sun for growth... in the same manner, we believe every human being requires knowledge for growth and self-realization. We want to help companies and people grow #WithSunlight."

The name is inspired by the way plants use light from the sun to grow via the process of photosynthesis. It's a name that focuses on cycles, connections, and the story of life itself.

By using a subtle story, Sunlight intrigues and gets audiences to ask questions before they know much about the business itself. This kind of interaction is one of the great benefits of a strong story-driven name.

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is a resource where people can find free ebooks online. It's a volunteer effort to digitize archives and provide people with free access to this content.

The name works perfectly for this revolutionary non-profit. It's inspired by one of the most influential inventions in human history: the Gutenberg printing press. Without the printing press, humans likely wouldn't have experienced the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and other key periods of cultural revolution. It empowered people to print bibles in their own languages, increasing literacy and free thought. Essentially, the printing press increased access to the written word, just like Project Gutenberg does.

This name uses a pivotal point in human history to highlight the importance and value of what Project Gutenberg does. The ability to connect to values and important historical events is another notable benefit of a story-driven name.

Key takeaways

Story-driven business names help you express a world of information in just a few words. If you can align your brand with the right story, you can capture strong ideas, emotions, imagery and memories. This establishes a strong point of connection between your brand and your audience, which can give you an advantage in the business world.

Harness the power of storytelling by coming up with a few of your own name ideas. The best way to do this is to use a proven approach to naming and distill your ideas down to the basics. Make a list of everything you want your business to capture. From there, start thinking of stories that align with your business values, goals and benefits.

Picking an intriguing story as the foundation of your brand can set you up for success, because it establishes an emotion that resonates with your audience. What are some of your favorite stories, and how can you use them to push your brand forward?

Extra credit: Learn more about the 10 assets you need to effectively manage your brand online in our free ebook.

Brand Management 101: Managing Your Brand in the Cloud

Author Bio

Grant Polachek is the director of marketing at Inc 500 company Squadhelp.com, the world's #1 naming platform, with nearly 20,000 customers from the smallest startups across the globe to the largest corporations including Nestle, Philips, Hilton, Pepsi and AutoNation. Get inspired by exploring these winning brand name ideas