What’s in a name! you wonder but if some of these brands had thought the same, they wouldn’t have been as popular as they are today. A brand’s name goes a long way in building its identity. Imagine, if Google was still called Backrub, would it still be as popular? Here are some companies which went on to change their names, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Quantum Computer Services >> AOL
In 1983, Steve Case created Quantum Computer Services. “His idea was to create an online bulletin board for owners of Commodore 64 computers. It wasn’t a sexy niche, but he thought it might have potential,” reported TIME. “From 1985 onward, Case nurtured Quantum from a few thousand members to more than 100,000.” In 1991 the company was renamed America Online, better known as AOL.
Sound of Music >> Best Buy
Sound of Music, an electronics store specializing in high fidelity stereos, was founded in 1966, pulling in $1 million in revenue and about $58,000 in profits in its first year. In 1981, Sound of Music’s largest and most profitable store was hit by a tornado. The store then held a “Tornado Sale” of damaged and excess stock in the store’s parking lot; the company advertised the sale by promising “best buys” on everything. Sound of Music made more money during this “best buy” four-day sale than it did in a typical month – thus, the store was renamed to Best Buy in 1983.
BackRub >> Google
Believe it or not, Google was originally given the name BackRub. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the creators of Google, came up with the name in 1996 before the search engine even existed. After a year, they weren’t completely satisfied with the name and changed it to Google in 1997. Google comes from the mathematical term “googol,” which represents the digit 1 followed by 100 zeroes. That large number is meant to reflect their hope to have a search engine with practically infinite information. Good thing they changed it because hearing someone say, “I don’t know, let me BackRub that,” would be pretty strange.
Research in Motion >> Blackberry
Founded in 1984, Research in Motion was the first wireless data technology developer in North America. In January 2013, the company announced that it would change its name to BlackBerry after the widely known smartphone device in an effort to revive the declining brand.
Confinity >> PayPal
PayPal was originally called Confinity. Their original name was meant to be a merge of the words confidence and infinity, but the company was renamed PayPal in June of 2001 when the main focus became making payments through email.
Brad’s Drink >> Pepsi-Cola
Pharmacist Caleb Bradham was experimenting with ingredients in 1893 when he created what is now known as Pepsi. The overnight hit was originally known as “Brad’s Drink” after his last name. In 1898, he renamed the drink Pepsi-Cola. Then in 1902, the Pepsi-Cola Company was started due to the high demand for the drink.
Pete’s Super Submarines >> SUBWAY
In 1965, Pete’s Super Submarines opened in Bridgeport, Connecticut selling 312 sandwiches on the first day. One year later, the company’s name changed to Doctor’s Associates Inc., after co-founder Dr. Peter Buck, who held a Ph.D. and hoped to earn enough money in the sandwich business to pay his college tuition. After little success under the two previous names, Buck and co-founder Fred DeLuca gave it a third try using the name Subway.
Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo >> Sony
Sony was originally named Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo. The two founders, Ibuka Masaru and Morita Akio, became successful in repairing radios and other electronic devices. They started to make a name for their company when they invented Japan’s first transistor radio in 1955. In 1958, the company was renamed Sony after the Latin word for sound, “sonus.”
Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web >> Yahoo
This very long company name was eventually changed to Yahoo! The founders of the site, Jerry Yang and David Filo, originally named the search engine after themselves. However, as the site grew in popularity, the founders decided to change it. Yahoo! is an acronym for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.”
Blue Ribbon Sports >> Nike
The company Nike was originally founded as Blue Ribbon Sports. Founded in 1964, it first served as a U.S. distributor of running shoes made by Onitsuka Tiger, a Japanese company now known as Asics. In 1971, the company decided that it wanted to distribute its own shoes under their own brand and needed a new name. They eventually decided on Nike after the Greek goddess of victory.
Marafuku Company, Nintendo Playing Card Company >> Nintendo
In 1889, Fusajiro Yamauchi began manufacturing Japanese playing cards. The cards started to become popular around the world so Yamauchi founded Marufuku Co. Ltd. In 1951, the company name was changed to Nintendo Playing Card Co. Ltd. It was changed again in 1963 to Nintendo when the company started selling games in addition to playing cards.
AuctionWeb >> eBay
Launched in 1995, eBay was initially named AuctionWeb – one of four sites housed under founder Pierre Omidyar’s umbrella company called eBay Internet. The other three sites included a travel site, a personal shipper site and a site about the Ebola virus. Spurred by the media referring to AuctionWeb as eBay, the company made the name change official in 1997.
Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation >> IBM
The company we now know as IBM was founded in 1911 as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR) through a merger of the Tabulating Machine Company, the International Time Recording Company, and the Computing Scale Company. CTR was eventually changed to “International Business Machines” in 1924 – the abbreviation IBM shortly followed.
Wards Company >> Circuit City
The first Wards Company store was opened in 1949 by Samuel S. Wurtzel. The name “Wards” was actually an acronym of the founder’s last initial and the initials of members of his family: W = Wurtzel; A = Alan; R = Ruth; D = David; S = Sam. Wards experimented with several retail formats, including smaller mall outlets branded “Sight-n-Sound” and “Circuit City.” Sight-n-Sound and Circuit City stores were eventually replaced by the Circuit City Superstore format. Wards Company officially changed its name to Circuit City and became listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1984.
Stag Party >> Playboy
The infamous Playboy magazine almost bore a different name. Hugh Hefner has said that he wanted to call his magazine Stag Party but changed it to Playboy as a last minute decision. “I wanted to call the magazine Stag Party, influenced by a cartoon book that I had. I was looking for a male figure of some kind and I thought of an animal in tuxedo will set us apart,” Hefner said in an interview. One month before publishing, Hefner received a letter from Stag magazine saying that the name was an infringement on their title – he quickly changed the name to Playboy.
Firebird >> Firefox
Mozilla’s famed browser hasn’t always held this widely-known moniker. The company came to find that the name Firebird was also in use by another open source project and wanted “to be responsive to the concerns of fellow open source developers.” Another name for the red panda, the name Firefox seemed to meet all of the company’s needs: “It’s similar to Firebird. It’s easy to remember. It sounds good. It’s unique. We like it,” the company said.