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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The creativity behind company names.

Naming a company is a fascinating exercise that requires vision, creativity and a sharp knowledge of vocabulary, right?


Most companies show a surprising lack of originality. And most fall under three well defined categories: Companies named after the owner's names. Comapny names formed following a combination of names. And third; acronyms created by the first letter of a long series of words.

Owner's names:
  • Adidas – from the name of the founder Adolf (Adi) Dassler
  • Boeing – named after founder William E. Boeing.
  • Black & Decker – named after founders S. Duncan Black and Alonzo G. Decker.
  • Bang & Olufsen – from the names of its founders, Peter Bang and Svend Olufsen, who met at a School of Engineering in Denmark.
  • Mattel – a portmanteau of the founders names Harold "Matt" Matson and Elliot Handler.
  • Taco Bell – named after founder Glen Bell
Combination of names or words:
  • Alfa Romeo – the company was originally known as ALFA, an acronym for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili. When Nicola Romeo bought ALFA in 1915, his surname was appended.
  • 3Com – Network technology producer; the three coms are computer, communication, and compatibility
  • Accenture – from "Accent on the future". The name Accenture was proposed by a company employee in Norway as part of an internal name finding process.
  • AOL – from America Online.
  • Cisco – short for San Francisco. It has also been suggested that it was "CIS-co": Computer Information Services was the department at Stanford University where the founders worked.
  • Coca-Cola – derived from the coca leaves and kola nuts used as flavoring. Coca-Cola creator John S. Pemberton changed the 'K' of kola to 'C' to make the name look better.
  • Duane Reade – named after Duane and Reade Streets in lower Manhattan, where the chain's first warehouse was located.
  • Skype – the original concept for the name was Sky-Peer-to-Peer, which morphed into Skyper, then Skype
  • ASICS – an acronym for Anima Sana In Corpore Sano, which, translated from Latin, means "Healthy soul in a healthy body".
  • BMWBayerische Motoren Werke
  • CVSConvenience Value Service.
  • GEICO – from Government Employees Insurance Company
  • IBM – named by Tom (Thomas John) Watson Sr, an ex-employee of National Cash Register (NCR Corporation). To one-up them in all respects, he called his company International Business Machines.
  • Qantas – from its original name, Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services.
  • WPP – Global advertising and marketing company. Originally called Wire and Plastic Products.
Random or/and Original:
  • Amazon.com – founder Jeff Bezos renamed the company Amazon (from the earlier name of Cadabra.com) after the world's most voluminous river, the Amazon. He saw the potential for a larger volume of sales in an online (as opposed to a bricks and mortar) bookstore. (Alternative: Amazon was chosen to cash in on the popularity of Yahoo, which listed entries alphabetically.)
  • Apple – For the favorite fruit of co-founder Steve Jobs and/or for the time he worked at an apple orchard, and to distance itself from the cold, unapproachable, complicated imagery created by other computer companies at the time – which had names such as IBM, DEC, Cincom and Tesseract
  • Google – an originally accidental misspelling of the word googol and settled upon because google.com was unregistered. Googol was proposed to reflect the company's mission to organize the immense amount of information available online.
  • Häagen-Dazs – Name was invented in 1961 by ice-cream makers Reuben and Rose Mattus of the Bronx "to convey an aura of the old-world traditions and craftsmanship. The name has no meaning.
  • Kodak – Both the Kodak camera and the name were the invention of founder George Eastman. The letter "K" was a favorite with Eastman; he felt it a strong and incisive letter. He tried out various combinations of words starting and ending with "K". He saw three advantages in the name. It had the merits of a trademark word, would not be mis-pronounced and the name did not resemble anything in the art. There is a misconception that the name was chosen because of its similarity to the sound produced by the shutter of the camera.
  • Lego – combination of the Danish "leg godt", which means to "play well".[37] Lego also means "I put together" in Latin, but Lego Group claims this is only a coincidence and the etymology of the word is entirely Danish. Years before the little plastic brick was invented, Lego manufactured wooden toys.
  • Pepsi – named from the digestive enzyme pepsin.
  • Virgin – founder Richard Branson started a magazine called Student while still at school. In his autobiography, Losing My Virginity, Branson says that when they were starting a business to sell records by mail order, "one of the girls suggested: 'What about Virgin? We're complete virgins at business.'"

You can see a larger list in Wikipedia

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