Have you ever wondered where some famous brands got their names?
Most of us take iconic brand names for granted. We say their names without even really thinking about their origin. Nike, Lululemon, and Starbucks have become mainstays of the English vernacular. After all, when you’re visiting the mall, you buy a pair of jeans at The Gap, a skirt at Zara and then stop by Häagen-Dazs for an ice cream sundae on the way out. But what do these names really mean and where did they come from? You might be surprised to hear what we found out!
Mel and Patricia Ziegler started Banana Republic in 1978 as a way to clean up and sell vintage military surplus clothing in a new context. I think we can see where the “Republic” comes from. And with admittedly no money, no experience, and unconventional products, one could say the “Banana” stands for the Banana peel they stepped on that slid them right into success.
Believe it or not, Zara was originally named Zorba after the film, “Zorba the Greek”. However, the first store opened up down the street from a bar that was called Zorba. The bar owner disputed the two businesses being so close together. Owner Amancia Ortega had already created the mold for the letters of his sign, so he came up with Zara as it was the name closest to Zorba!
Chip Wilson, founder of Lululemon, came up with the name because he believed Japanese people wouldn’t be able to pronounce it as the letter “L”, as the letter “L” doesn’t exist in the Japanese language. He did this because he thought the Japanese would then see it as authentically American and possibly more desirable.
Did you know that The Gap was named after the generation gap between adults and children? Makes perfect sense!
It is said that the founder of Lancôme, Armand Petitjean, named his perfume company after the castle Le Chateau de Lancôme (Loir-et-Cher) that had been taken over by wild roses.
This mega beauty store gets its name from a combination of two words. The first is the Greek word “sephos,” which means “pretty.” The second is a name from the Bible, “Zipporah” who was the wife of Moses and was known for her beauty. So, “Pretty Beauty” it is!
We only have rumors for Rolex. One rumor is that the name is simply, completely random. Another is that it actually comes from the French phrase horlegerie exquise, meaning “hoROLogical EXcellence”. The only thing certain is that Wilsdorf wanted a name that would be easy to pronounce in every language.
Dom Pérignon, while unrelated to the company itself, was a Benedictine monk in 17th and 18th century famous for being a pioneer in the production of Champagne wine.
This coffee giant was named after Herman Melville’s first mate in the novel, “Moby Dick” – in an effort to evoke “the romance of the high seas and the seafaring tradition of the early coffee traders.”
Did you know that Pepsi originally came from the word “dyspepsia” which means indigestion? Inventor Caleb Davis Bradham originally created “Brad’s Drink” made from sugar, water, caramel, lemon oil and nutmeg. He changed the name to “Pepsi-Cola” as he thought his concoction helped digestion!
I’ll bet you didn’t know that Gatorade was developed by a team of doctors at the University of Florida to help the Florida Gators as they played football in the humidity and heat!
Panera comes from the Spanish words “pan” and “era”. Pan means bread. Era means age. So, Panera means “age of bread”. Ron Shaich, the founder of Panera, said Panera also means “breadbasket” in Latin.
Great googely woogely, Google’s root comes from the word “googol” which refers to the largest describable number, 1 with 100 zeros after it. Founder Larry Page was brainstorming ideas for a name at Stanford University when someone suggested “googolplex”. And another student accidentally misspelled it as “google”. The rest is history!
Founder Jeff Bezos named Amazon after the largest river in the world. Pretty fitting since they are the largest source of consumerism flowing straight to our doorsteps today!
This one is pretty simple and incredibly logical; the combination of group + coupon = Groupon!
In Greek mythology, Pandora was given the gift of music from Apollo.
Waaaay back in 2003, Skype was a software for peer-to-peer (P2P) communication. In an attempt to reflect the project idea, they tried the name sky peer-to-peer. I guess the thought behind using the word “sky” in relation to a computer network was akin to the use of “cloud” – it is all up in the air. sky peer-to-peer must have proven to be too long for marketing, and so Skype was born.
Co-founder John Warnock lived in a house in front of the Adobe Creek, which inspired his company’s name.
You remember Blackberry, right? If you had a high-powered job that relied heavily on email, you sure do! The company felt that the keyboard buttons resembled the curves of the blackberry fruit.
Evernote’s name comes from a combination of “forEVER” and “NOTE,” words that make any list taker, note maker, record keeper, or plan planner ecstatic that tech-world gets them.
Basically, Facebook’s name came from the books given to new students when they enrolled in university, to help them get to know the other members of their student body. When Facebook was first created, it was only used for colleges as the electronic/ tech version of these books. Then it grew … and grew … and is still growing.
“Twitter,” means “a short burst of inconsequential information” and “chirps from birds,” there was obviously no better name for this social network.
Originally called “Kwanon” for a Buddhist goddess, the company changed its name to Canon to appeal to a worldwide audience.
The most well-known brand of condoms was named after the Trojan race, who were known for their virility. And no, a Trojan viruses is not something you can get if you don’t use condoms. And don’t even mention the Trojan Horse, a wooden horse that held hundreds of soldiers who infiltrated the gates Troy.
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