Have you ever wondered where the name Google came from? Do you know the origins of Research In Motion? Well, here’s a list of some well-known company names with their name origins explained.
- 3M – from the company’s original name, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company
- A&W Root Beer – named after founders Roy Allen and Frank Wright
- Adidas – from the name of the founder Adolf (Adi) Dassler
- Atari – named from the board game Go. “Atari” is a Japanese word to describe a position where an opponent’s stones are in danger of being captured. It is similar, though not identical, to “check” in chess. The original games company was American but wanted a Japanese-sounding name.
- Bridgestone – named after founder Shojiro Ishibashi. The surname Ishibashi (石橋) means “stone bridge”, or “bridge of stone”.
- Cisco – short for San Francisco.
- 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.
- eBay – Pierre Omidyar, who had created the Auction Web trading website, had formed a web consulting concern called Echo Bay Technology Group. “Echo Bay” didn’t refer to the town in Nevada, “It just sounded cool”, Omidyar reportedly said. Echo Bay Mines Limited, a gold mining company, had already taken EchoBay.com, so Omidyar registered what (at the time) he thought was the second best name: eBay.com.
- Esso – the enunciation of the initials S.O. in Standard Oil of New Jersey.
- 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.
- HMV – from “His Master’s Voice”, which appeared in 1899 as the title of a painting of Nipper, a Jack Russell terrier, listening to a gramophone.
- 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.
- Lego – combination of the Danish “leg godt”, which means to “play well”. 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.
- McDonald’s – from the name of the brothers Dick McDonald and Mac McDonald, who founded the first McDonald’s restaurant in 1940.
- Mercedes – from the first name of the daughter of Emil Jellinek, who distributed cars of the early Daimler company around 1900.
- Microsoft – coined by Bill Gates to represent the company that was devoted to microcomputer software. Originally christened Micro-Soft, the ‘-‘ disappeared on 3/2/1987 with the introduction of a new corporate identity and logo. The “slash between the ‘o’ and ‘s’ [in the Microsoft logo] emphasizes the “soft” part of the name and conveys motion and speed
- Nike – named for the Greek goddess of victory.
- Pepsi – named from the digestive enzyme pepsin.
- Reebok – alternate spelling of rhebok Pelea capreolus), an African antelope.
- Research in Motion – from the phrase “poetry in motion”, which company founder Mike Lazaridis had seen used to describe a football player.
- Siemens – founded in 1847 by Werner von Siemens and Johann Georg Halske. The company was originally called Telegraphen-Bau-Anstalt von Siemens & Halske.
- Toyota – from the name of the founder, Sakichi Toyoda. Initially called Toyeda, it was changed after a contest for a better-sounding name. The new name was written in katakana with eight strokes, a number that is considered lucky in Japan.
- Wal-mart – named after founder Sam Walton
- Xerox – named from xerography, a word derived from the Greek xeros (dry) and graphos (writing). The company was founded as The Haloid Company in 1906, launched its first XeroX copier in 1949, and changed its name to Haloid Xerox in 1958
- Yahoo! – The word Yahoo was invented by Jonathan Swift and used in his book Gulliver’s Travels. It represents a person who is repulsive in appearance and barely human. Yahoo! founders David Filo and Jerry Yang jokingly considered themselves yahoos. It’s also an interjection sometimes associated with United States Southerners’ and Westerners’ expression of joy, as alluded to in Yahoo.com commercials that end with someone singing the word “yahoo”. It is also sometime jokingly referred to by its backronym, Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.
Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.