How the 9 Most Popular Companies got their Names

A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet. But that’s not true when it comes to businesses. Would APPLE (the company) seem just the same if it was renamed? Most likely not. In this article we present 9 of the most popular brand names and the story on how they got their (brand) names and how they were founded.

3M

3MWho doesn’t like post-it notes? 3M, formerly known as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, is more commonly recognized as the makes of adhesives, laminates, car care products, medical and electronic products and much more. 3M was founded in 1902 at Lake Superior town with the intention to sell corundum which is used for making grinding wheels. The company was founded by five partners; Henry S. Bryan, Hermon W. Cable, John Dwan, WIlliam A. McGOnagle, Dr. J Danley Budd each from their own diverse occupations.

While 3M moved away from its original plans, some of the first known products produced included a waterproof sandpaper, masking tape which later made way for Scotch® Pressure-Sensitive Tapes, Scotchlite™ Reflective Sheeting, magnetic sound recording tape and many more.

Amazon

AmazonFounded by Jess Bezos, the name ‘Amazon’ was chosen as Bezos wanted a name for his company that would appear early on in an alphabetical order. After sifting through pages in the dictionary, Amazon was chosen as Bezos considered it to be the world’s largest river in hopes to make his company be the same. The Amazon logo type which was conceived in the year 2000 represents an arrow from A to Z. It represents customer satisfaction and depicts to cover all kinds of products not to forget a smile.

American Express

American ExpressThe company that is known today for its Credit Card, Charge Card and Travellers Cheques got into business as an express mail service in New York in 1850’s. The company was founded merging the express companies of Henry Wells, William Fargo and John Warren Butterfield (same people behind Wells, Fargo & Co.).

In 1882, American Express expanded into offering money order services, competing with the US Post Office that also operated a Money order business. Between 188 and 1890, when J. C Fargo, the president of American Express and the younger brother of William Fargo visited Europe, he was frustrated that it was difficult to get cash anywhere, despite the letters of credit that he carried with him. Upon returning to the US, Fargo in association with Marcellus Flemming Berry came up with the concept of American Express Travellers cheques launched in 1891 in denominations of $10, $20, $50 and $100.

Apple

Its common knowledge that Apple Inc. was formed in a garage by founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. But who or how was the name chosen?

Apple Inc.The name Apple Computer was conceived late afternoon as the co-founders were rushing against the deadline to file for a Fictious name statement in an effort to license their business procedures. After running through different names and not reaching to a conclusion, Jobs looked at a half eaten apple and decided that it would be the name if they failed to figure out a better name by 5PM that evening. Thus came the name Apple and the logo of the apple that is bitten.

Another version to this story is that the Apple logo was a tribute to Alan Turing considered to one of the founding fathers of the computing world. Working in the UK during WW2 Turing was persecuted for him being open about his sexual preferences at a time when being gay was considered a taboo. Turing committed suicide by taking a bite out of an apple with cyanide. However, this speculation was put to rest when Rob Janoff debunked that theory.

Coca-Cola

Coca ColaInvented in the late 19th century by John Pemberton it was originally sold as a patent medicine to cure headaches and the very first drink was sold on May 8th 1886. In the following year, Asa Griggs Candler acquired an operating stake in the company Pemberton founded and renamed it as the Coca Cola Company. By 1888, Coca-Cola was being sold by three different businesses. In 1892, Candler after purchasing the legal rights to the coca-cola formula from Pemberton, Margaret Dozier and Woolfalk Walker founded a new company and called it ‘The Coca-Cola Company.’ The whole claim to the company was doused in claims of fradulent signatures and the likes.

It is said that the name Coca-Cola is derived from its two main ingredients, coca leaves and the cola flavoured berries. Although the present day coke as we know it does not contain cocaine, the name continues on to this day. The Coca-cola calligraphy is attributed to Frank Robinson, a book keeper working for John Pemberton.

eBay

eBayOnline auctions have become synonymous with eBay. One of the few companies that survived the dot-com bubble, eBay has now expanded its presence to most of the countries. Founded in 1995 by Pierre Omidyar it was known as AuctionWeb. Success knocked or Omidyar’s doors when he saw a sale was made for a broker laser pointer. Baffled, Omidyar contacted the buyer to inform him that the later pointer was broker, only to be told that the buyer was a hardcore collector of broker laser pointers.

The company AuctionWeb was renamed to eBay (short for Echo Bay Consulting; a business owned by Omidyar) in 1997 and in the same year eBay got its first funding in $6.7 million from VC firm Benchmark Capital which is also behind the funding of other brands such as Twitter, Red Hat and Juniper Networks.

Oreo

OreoWhile Oreo is one of the most popular sandwich cookie, not many know about its origins. Oreo comes from the Greek word Orezin or Orexigenic a term used to describe ‘appetite stimulating.’ Besides this, there many more theories one of which suggests that the name Oreo is derived from the French word ‘Or’ (gold) as the early packaging of Oreo was gold wrapping. Oreo was initially known as the Oreo Biscuit which was changed to Oreo Creme Sandwich in 1948 and later became Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookie in 1974.

Oreo Biscuit was produced by Nabisco which is part of Kraft Foods (which also owns Cadbury) in the year 1912 and was sold at 25c for a pound in novelty cans.

Red Bull

Red BullThe Austrian energy drink was created in 1987 by Dietrich Mateschitz and is sold by Austrian Red Bull GmbH. Red Bull was formed in partnership with a Thai businessman Chaleo Yoovidhya who had earlier invented a popular energy boosting drink in Thailand in 1976. The logo depicted two red bulls (gaur) charging towards each other. When Dietrich visited Thailand he noticed that the drink cured him of his jetlag and thus the Red Bull partnership was formed in 1984, the export version of which was launched in 1987.

Starbucks

The very first Starbucks outlet was set up in Seattle, Washington in 1971. Starbucks was founded by Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl and Gordon Bowker who came from teaching and a writing background with a plan to sell high quality coffee beans. They got their inspiration to start Starbucks from Alfred H. Peet a Dutch American entrepreneur who founded Peet’s Coffee & Tea. The three founders started buying coffee beans initially from Peet’s and later starting procuring the beans directly by themselves.

StarbucksThe name Starbucks comes from the character Starbuck who was the chirf mate of the Pequod, from the book Moby-Dick. Starbucks was relocated to Pike Place in 1912 where it remains to the present day. In 1988, Starbucks was sold to Schultz II Giornale owned by Howard Schultz a business magnate. He quickly renamed all the II Giornale outlets to Starbucks and thus the story began.

The Starbucks logo was designed by Terry Heckler and depicts a mermaid that beckons coffee lovers. The mermaid is based on a 15th century Norse woodcut of the mythical siren.

About the author: Editorial Team

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