Sep 25, 2018

The Gods Must Be Brands: How Brands Draw their Names from Greek Mythology

The gods may be horrified to discover their names are being used to peddle everything from soap to software.

Greek mythology has been a treasure trove of names for marketers to associate with their brands — whether companies, products, or services. The lure of naming a brand after a god just makes sense. The brand gains credibility by connecting virtues of the product or service with the mythological character.

What’s a little surprising is the number of highly recognized, category leading brands that draw their names from Greek and Roman mythology.

Nike — Nike was the Greek goddess of victory. No doubt a great choice to name a company that sells footwear to athletes and sports enthusiasts.

Hermès — Hermes was the messenger of the gods and the god of trade. What a perfect name for a brand that specializes in leather apparel and lifestyle accessories. The brand is actually named after its founder, Thierry Hermès.

Amazon — Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, chose the name because the Amazon is the largest river in the world and it could function as a symbol of the company’s vast selection of books. But the river got its name from Greek mythology. The Amazons were a race of women warriors known for their fierceness in battle.

Oracle — The oracle was a seer or psychic. They were mortals who could convey messages from the gods. This is a fitting name for Oracle Corporation, one of the world’s largest software companies and a pioneer in database technology.

Olympus — The gods lived at Mount Olympus. It’s an interesting association for Olympus cameras.

Mars — Mars was the roman god of war, and today one of the world’s largest confectionery and food manufacturing companies. Like Hermès, the name actually originates with the founder, Franklin Mars.

Trojan — The Trojans were the residents of Troy, a city in ancient Greece. For 10 years the Greeks waged war on the city of Troy, and for 10 years they made no progress. It wasn’t until the Greeks changed their strategy and presented a gift, the Trojan Horse, did the city fall. The word “Trojan” has become synonymous with courage, strength, and perseverance — presumably all the characteristics you’d want in a condom.

Ajax — Ajax was a heroic Greek warrior who gained fame during the Trojan war. Today, brave Ajax is best known as a cleaning product. He’s keeping our sinks and toilets sparkling clean. As the tagline used to proclaim, “Stronger Than Dirt!”

Orion — Orion was another great warrior in Greek mythology. You might know him better by the constellation, Orion’s Belt. For a brand, Orion Pictures is a Hollywood movie studio with notable films like Dances With Wolves and The Silence of the Lambs.

Pandora — Pandora was the first human woman created by the gods. Each god helped create her by giving her unique gifts. She later became known for her role in opening Pandora’s Box, and releasing all the evils of humanity. Pandora is now a streaming music service, recently acquired by Sirius. The founders liked the story of Pandora, because she was known for her curiosity (which is probably why she opened the box). This became a symbol as they conducted the “most comprehensive analysis of music ever undertaken.”

History is a rich source of inspiration and stories in brand naming. The Greek and Roman mythology may be picked over, but you can look into many more corners of the world to find an inspirational name that shares the virtues of your product, service, or company.

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