Every company has its own brand name and logo that makes it stand out from the rest of the world. While most companies stick with names that are closely related to the aim of their business, there are some that are extremely innovative. Behind every popular brand name is a mastermind, who is quick witted or determined to land the perfect brand name. Here, we are listing some interesting and true stories behind some of the most popular companies.
1. 7 Eleven
When you walk into a 7-Eleven at mid-night, you might wonder why the convenience store is named after two arbitrary numbers, but is open 24 hours a day. Today, we are used to the idea of stores being open 24 hours a day. There however, was a time when stores were only open during day time and some of them from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. The store, which has been around since 1927, was initially called Tote’m Stores but in 1946, changed its name in honor of its operating hours (7-11). However, it wasn’t until 1963 that the store started keeping its doors forever open.
According to some records, the store staying open 24 hours was actually because of a football game in 1963. During the game, the store was so busy that the manager was forced to keep the store open late past its closing time of 11 p.m. When the University of Texas store saw how well sales were after midnight, they decided to keep their doors open forever. Other 7 Eleven stores soon followed the trend, and the rest is history. (source)
For decades, athletic wear companies have been competing with each other to corner the market. Adidas is among one of the companies who have managed to secure a spot among the hearts of athletes, celebs and the general population alike. However, there are many misconceptions surrounding the brand and its name. For instance, some believe that the letters in the name Adidas stand for the phrase “All Day I Dream About Sports”. While the phrase is catchy, it’s not true at all. In reality, Adidas is named after the founder of the company, Adolf “Adi” Dassler (Adi+Das). The company logo, the three striped design, was adapted later to symbolize a climb upward. (source)
Today, Amazon is the biggest online store in the world. In 2019 alone, Amazon made a market capitalization of $755.7 billion, and the rate of sales are only expected to increase within the next few years. Its founder, Jeff Bezos, is worth more than $165.6 billion and according to Business Insider, Bezos makes more than $6.54 billion a month. In 1994, however, before Amazon was even a thing, Jeff Bezos was known worldwide as a technology genius. Back then, Bezos was developing his idea for the world’s largest online bookstore and had planned to name it “Cadabra,” as in “abracadabra”.
Things however changed for the best while he was having a conversation with his lawyer. During the conversation, his lawyer misheard the name “Cadabra” as “Cadaver”, which made him rapidly re-conceptualized the name. In the end, Bezos chose Amazon, after the river, reportedly for three reasons. One, to suggest scale (“Earth’s biggest book store”), two, back then website listings were often alphabetical, and three, to represent his big ambitions. (source)
Although everyone know that the company Apple is named after a fruit, not many know the origins behind the name. In Walter Isaacson’s new biography of Jobs, it was revealed that Steve Jobs got the name for the company after going apple picking in a farm. During his visit, the name sounded “fun, spirited and not intimidating”, so Jobs called Steve Wozniak to pitch the idea. Wozniak however, almost rejected the idea because it sounded too much like the Beatles record label and Jobs was a huge fan of the Beatles. Thankfully, the Apple founders were far ahead of their time and stayed with the name. (source)
5. Best Buy
Best Buy was founded by Richard M. Schulze in 1966 and it was actually called Sound of Music. The mostly stereo store was not bringing in a lot of revenue, but was gaining popularity. Richard M. Schulze and his business partner decided to invest more in their business and by 1978, there were a total of nine stores throughout Minnesota. Things however, took a negative turn when a tornado passed right through the Minnesota Sound of Music location, at the time the largest and most profitable Sound of Music store.
Although the store was partially destroyed during the incident, the storeroom was left undamaged. Schulze however, decided to have a “Tornado Sale” of damaged and excess stock. So, in 1981, Schulze invested his marketing budget into advertising the sale, promising “best buys” on everything. The advertisements garnered so much attention that Sound of Music made more money during the four-day sale than it did in a typical month. So, in 1983, Schulze decided to rebrand his company, rebranding Sound of Music to Best Buy Company, Inc. (source)
As one of the world’s biggest online marketplaces, eBay has hundreds of millions of live listings at any given moment. Founded in 1995 by just one curious computer programmer, the company has grown into a massive firm that employs over 15,000 employees worldwide. Although it is one of the most recognizable brands around the world, not many people are aware of its history. For instance, did you know that eBay was Originally Called AuctionWeb? Launched during Labor Day weekend in 1995 as “AuctionWeb,” by entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar in his living room in San Jose, California, AuctionWeb was just one of four websites that was housed under Omidyar’s umbrella company, eBay Internet.
eBay however, came long before AuctionWeb existed. When Omidyar went to Sacramento to register the domain echobay.com for his business, he learned that the domain was already taken by another company. So, he registered his domain as eBay on the spot and thus the world of eBay came into existence. During mid-1997, AuctionWeb was gaining popularity, which gave the website a lot of news media attention. News anchors however, mistakenly referred to the website using its company name ‘eBay’, which stuck forever. So, Omidyar decided to officially change the name of the company to eBay in September of 1997. (source)
IKEA is known as a go-to furniture store that has trendy items to fill your living room with. But, have you ever wondered where the name IKEA came from? The name is an acronym standing for Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd. In 1943, Ingvar Kamprad was only 17 years old when he founded IKEA. As you might have guessed, that’s where the first two letters come from. The remaining two letters come from his childhood farm Elmtaryd, and of his hometown Agunnaryd. The then 17 year old Ingvar Kamprad was doing well at school, so his father awarded him some money. Kamprad used the gift to start his own business, where he would make furniture with simple designs that others can assemble and afford at a fair price. (source)
8. The Gap
The Gap or simply GAP, was founded in 1969 by Donald Fisher and Doris Fisher. The store, which only had a handful of employees, was named to signify “the generation gap”, between the young and the matured. According to Snopes, the term was popular in the late 1960’s, describing the intellectual, ethical, and social gulf between young people and their parents’ generation. Donald Fisher got the idea for the store after becoming frustrated, trying to find a pair of jeans that he really liked. After searching multiple brands and stores, he was unsatisfied, finally coming up with the idea for The Gap. Today, GAP is a massive company with more than 166,000 employees worldwide and operating 3,800 stores under brand names including the Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Athleta, and Intermix. (source)
Google is undoubtedly one of the most used search engines in the world. On any given day, Google receives over 63,000 searches per second, which translates into at least 2 trillion searches per year, 3.8 million searches per minute, 228 million searches per hour, and 5.6 billion searches per day. While many people search for things to correct their mistakes, they are unaware of the fact that the name of the search engine they are using was also derived from a simple mistake. At first, Google’s founders Larry Page and Sean Anderson wanted to name it Backrub.
After several brainstorming sessions, they came up with “googolplex”, which Page shortened the word to “googol”. Googol is the name of the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. However, when the two were searching online to check whether the domain googol was already taken, Anderson made a typo, keying in “google” instead. Page immediately fell in love with the name, even though it was a simple mistake, so on September 15, 1997, Google was officially created online. (source)
Founded on January 25, 1964 in Eugene, OR, by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight, Nike was initially known as Blue Ribbon Sports. In the beginning, Blue Ribbon Sports was basically a distributor for the Japanese shoemaker Onitsuka Tiger (now known as Asics). Surprisingly, the company was founded with just $1,200 in the bank and was not exceeding their expectations. Bill Bowerman — a track-and-field coach — and Phil Knight, a middle-distance runner from Portland, both wanted the company to be successful and thought of several names. In the beginning, Knight had originally wanted to call the company “Dimension 6”. When Jeff Johnson, their first ever employee was hired, he came up with the name Nike, from the Greek goddess of victory.
It was a eureka moment for the founders and in 1971, the company officially changed its name. Later, the famous Nike swoosh logo was designed by Portland State University student Carolyn Davidson, for a mere $35 (just over $200 in today’s currency). She however, was given Nike stock which is now worth more than $1 million today. (source)