One of Pollywog’s big differentiators is that unlike other naming agencies, we don’t create meaningless, nonsensical names, even though they would be easy to sell.

Meaningless names are usually available for trademark and often sail through onerous corporate approval processes. There are no meanings to object to, after all.

But going to market with a meaningless name puts any brand at a disadvantage. Instead of alluding to a brand promise and helping to predispose a customer to a sale, a meaningless name requires explanation. Companies have to spend time and money on educating customers to what their brand name means–a ball and chain for any business on the race to profits.

A far more effective brand name connects to ideas that are already in a customer’s mind, because they’re familiar with the word or phrase.

And in our perspective, the type of name that performs most effectively is the evocative name, which uses a metaphor to connect to the brand promise.

Metaphors are rich in meaning. They’re a powerful form of shorthand–and a crucial tool for new brands especially–because they can convey in a single word a multiplicity of ideas and elicit an instant emotional response.

Without being educated on the product’s benefits, I can infer that “Full Throttle” is strong, “Amazon” is huge, and “Blackwater” is dangerous.

The power of metaphors as a branding technique is the result of metaphorical thinking, a process hard-wired into the human brain. At a recent TED conference, professional aphorist James Geary explained how powerful and pervasive metaphors are in language and culture. It’s worth a look: