An Evocative, Metaphorical Name That Rewards Curiosity
There are thousands of Internet radio stations, but only one with the amazing name of Pandora. You probably know the story. In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman, who, possessed with the gift of curiosity, couldn’t refrain from opening a jar–which in later stories became a box–full of dangerous gifts from the gods, thus unleashing evil into the world. Like Eve’s lust for apples, another strong-willed woman had opened up a can of worms for humanity; such are the fears of men, apparently.
You can easily imagine how a theoretical corporate naming committee might have dismissed this name: “We have a cool Internet radio product, but it’s sometimes buggy — the last thing we need is a name that suggests a whole lot of headaches are in store for users who ‘open’ the app.” Or, “Pandora is a woman’s name, so it skews the brand too much toward the female, and our users are 75% male.” Powerful names, however, transcend such literal and “negative” meanings, and Pandora instead promises to reward the curious listeners who use the service to discover new music. A bold service that demonstrates its boldness by having a bold, memorable name that also maps strongly to the idea of curiosity.
Such an evocative name works not in spite of its meaning, but because of it, and, crucially, because its meaning in some way runs counter to the literal function of the brand (“opening” the app shouldn’t release “evil”). When the metaphorical associations of an evocative name are employed merely as symbolic shorthand toward a “deeper meaning,” such as the moon named Pandora in the movie Avatar, the name can easily degenerate into cliche (“if we ‘open’ the planet Pandora for exploitation, we’ll unleash the evil in our cold, capitalists hearts”).
And don’t forget your mythology. After Pandora inadvertently let all the evil out of her “box,” one precious thing remained inside: hope. “Hope is the thing with feathers,” wrote Emily Dickinson famously, “That perches in the soul.” Pandora gives hope to companies every day that powerful, evocative names can set brands free from their bland, sound-alike competitors. Let that knowledge perch in your marketing soul.
[ Pandora ]