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15 Business Names And Logos With Interesting Backstories

15 Business Names And Logos With Interesting Backstories


Now more than ever, with so many companies competing for your business dollar, it is most important for them to deliver their message about their products to you as quickly and effectively as they possibly can. Everyone knows the importance of a name, whether it’s for a business or an individual. These companies, in many cases, spend exorbitant amounts of money in developing logos, names and creating advertising to make you remember them. Some logos that have been created are so effective they don’t even need any words in them for you to be able to identify the company. Some perfect examples of companies like this are Apple, Twitter, Starbucks, Nike, Target and of course the famous golden arches of McDonald’s.

Continue reading and you will soon discover that some of the names of the most famous companies of our time were simply words made up out of thin air and not even real. Some names were even typos that just stuck and some were just much easier to say. Can you match the words Cadabra or Twitch to the two famous companies they are today? How about this tongue twister, “Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo KK”? Yeah, the company was wise to rename it to something easier.

15. Amazon


If you took the “Cadabra” out of abracadabra, you would have the name that Jeff Bezos decided on for his internet based retail company. “Cadabra” has a certain ring to it, but Bezos decided to rename it Amazon for several reasons. The Amazon is the world’s largest river by volume and Bezos figured his online store had potential for larger volume so it only made sense. He also came to realize that websites were listed alphabetically so Bezos literally went from a “C” to an “A”. It also sealed the deal when his lawyer heard “cadaver” instead of “cadabra”. After the misspelling something needed to change.

14. Apple


No, the Garden of Eden and Eve are not the inspiration behind the Apple logo; it was just the co-founder Steve Jobs’ favorite fruit. While he was on a fruitarian diet, he said the apple came to mind when he returned from visiting an apple orchard and thought it sounded “fun, spirited and not intimidating.”

A bite was taken out of the apple so it would not be confused with a tomato because the logo looked similar. Also, it is a clever play on words if you’re nerdy enough to think that way (bite/byte), pretty fitting for a tech company. In 1998 the color went from rainbow to monochrome, but the apple shape remains unchanged.

13. FedEx


The founder of the company Federal Express, Frederick Smith felt the word “federal” had a strong patriotic sound to it. He felt that it gave it a national feeling so he went with it. He also wanted to do business with the Federal Reserve Bank and thought that would give him an advantage, which it proved not to.

Interestingly enough, the company logo has become very popular among graphic designers in regards to the use of negative space in advertising. If you look closely you can see (in the negative space) an arrow between the “E” and the “X”. The arrow may suggest movement forward or in the right direction.

12. eBay


There are several different versions out there as to how eBay got its name, but one thing for sure is that the “e” in eBay does not stand for the shorthand version of electronic, which many think is the case as eBay came out in the dot-com boom period.

According to business insider and several others, the “e” was for ebola and the San Francisco Bay area was the inspiration behind the “bay”. Founder Pierre Omidyar, known for his eccentricities, was concerned about the health care system’s inability to deal with epidemics on a large scale, so he purchased the domain name and used the site to inform people about ebola.

11. Häagen-Dazs


We all have tasted the delicious Häagen-Dazs ice cream but where in the world did its name come from? Häagen-Dazs sounds like it must be of German, Swedish, Danish or at least European origin, right? Well its roots are shared with none other than ‘Jenny from the block’ J-Lo. Coming to you straight from the Bronx. That’s right, New York.

Founder Reuben Mattus completely made up the name giving it a Danish sound because he said it gave an “aura of the old-world traditions and craftsmanship.” That’s right, the name was completely made up out of the blue. I’d say he did a pretty good job.

10. Kodak


Kodak is the granddaddy of all logos and in 1907 it was the first to merge its look and name into a symbol. George Eastman was the inventor of the Kodak camera and its name. Over the years, people have thought that the name originated from the sound that the camera’s shutter makes when it goes off, but this is simply not true.

Eastman’s favorite letter was “K” because he said “It seems a strong, incisive sort of letter.” He also had three prerequisites for the name; he wanted to make sure that nobody would mispronounce it, he wanted it to be short and to make sure it did not look like anything else.

9. Google


Accidentally misspelling the word “googol” is how “Google” got its name. I am not even sure how “googol” is pronounced, so I guess the misspelling was a blessing. Unregistered at the time was used instead, and interestingly enough is not owned by Google.

Why “googol”? Because mathematically it is a really huge number. It is 100 zeros after the number 1. Captivated by googol the number, founder Larry Page was always talking about it in high school. The word “googolplex”, a word with which Page was infatuated with, is defined as the number 1 with a googol of zeros after it.

8. Wendy’s


Melinda Lou’s Old Fashion Hamburgers kind of has a ring to it, but Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s, chose to use his eight-year-old daughter’s nickname instead. At a young age she was unable to say her own name, Melinda Lou, so she was nicknamed Wendy. Dave himself said that people really nicknamed her Wenda and not Wendy.

We all remember growing up with good home cooked meals made with love by mom. The Food Network UK did a survey and found more than 50% of men like mom’s cooking better than their wife’s so the Wendy’s logo has cleverly hidden in her collar the word “Mom”.

7. Roxy


Any girl who loves to snowboard or surf knows about the great style of the clothing line that is named “Roxy”. It is the sister brand of Quiksilver, designed exclusively for young women, and the name was designed to set it apart from the Quiksilver line. The reason for this was “For fear it would damage the men’s brand” as told by the marketing senior vice president.

With a punk band ring or club like sound, the name Roxy was chosen to give it a cool vibe. Additionally, both CEO’s had daughters that were named Roxy. The Roxy logo is very clever and is simply two Quiksilver logos that have been rotated to form the shape of a heart.

6. Sony Vaio


In Latin the word ‘sonus’ means sound, and in American slang the term ‘sonny boy’ is used to allude to a smart youngster. Founder Akio Morita changed the name from “Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo KK” to Sony because in many languages the name Sony could easily be pronounced. Morita said the name “conveyed to him the youthful energy and irreverence he wanted at the heart of the company.”

Sony’s computer products are sub-branded using the name VAIO. Analog and digital technology being integrated is what the Sony Vaio logo symbolizes. An analog wave is formed by the “VA” and a binary 1 and 0 represent the “IO” in VAIO.

5. LG


Everyone recognizes the LG logo but probably never really thought about what it really means. The giant company LG sells electronics among many other things like telecommunication products and chemicals. Coming to us from Seoul, South Korea, this company’s logo is a happy looking face made by the letters “L” and “G” in a circle.

If you dissect the logo you can see just how innovative the company really is. LG said, “The Letters L and G in a circle symbolizes the world, youth, humanity and technology.” Interestingly, if you rotate the logo slightly to the right and connect the “L” to the circle it makes a Pac-Man symbol.

4. Pixar


Pixar’s name is a made up Spanish word using the real word “Pixel”. The “el” was dropped and replaced by “ar” because Spanish verbs use “ar” and it would imply “To Pix”. In the programming of computer graphics, a term that is often used is “pixel array” and “pixarr” is the way it is commonly abbreviated.

With movies like Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., Toy Story, Up, The Incredibles, Cars and on and on, is there anyone on the planet that has not heard of Pixar Animation Studios? But how many of us know who Luxo Jr. is? You know him, he is that cute, hopping playful little desk lamp that is the Pixar mascot.

3. Starbucks


I’m going to Moby-Dick’s for a frappuccino, you want something? Yeah, no thanks, that just doesn’t sound very enticing at all. This company was founded by three guys from Seattle. Once one of them was looking at an old map and came across Starbo, a mining town, in Washington. It reminded him of the first-mate of the Pequod, Starbuck. Remember, the Pequod was the whale-ship in the novel Moby Dick by Herman Melville. They all liked the name Starbuck but thought it sounded better with an “s” at the end.

While going through some old marine books they came across the Siren. The logo has changed and evolved throughout the years but one thing remains constant, the nautical themed Siren. On your next visit think of how close they came to naming it Moby Dick’s!

2. Twitter


While brainstorming for a name, the word “twitch” was considered because it kind of described the way a cell phone in the pocket vibrated when it went off. Not liking the way it sounded when the word was spoken, Jack Dorsey, co-founder, said, “We looked in the dictionary for words around it and we came across the word ‘Twitter’ and it was just perfect. The definition was a ‘short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds.’ And that’s exactly what the product was.”

I guess it really doesn’t take much imagination after hearing his explanation, on how the Twitter logo with the bird came into its own.

1. WWE


World Wrestling Entertainment has been using this name since they were forced to change it. Originally known as the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) they eventually shortened it to just World Wrestling Federation (WWF). They used this for a long time until the other WWF (World Wildlife Fund) sued them (successfully) and told them they couldn’t use the abbreviation any longer.

The company that has some of the baddest employees walking the planet was knocked out by a panda bear. Now if that’s not funny I just don’t know what is. Pro wrestling is much more prevalent in the world than the wildlife fund is, but sometimes the underdog pulls out a victory. The kicker is the original WWF isn’t even known as that anymore. They are now called the World Wide Fund for Nature but they still use the WWF abbreviation.


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