Major Brands Who Chose Their Names In Interesting And Clever Ways

One of the first things you notice about a brand is its name. Google, Adidas, Lululemon, and every other mainstream trademark have a unique signature that helps make them stand out from the rest of the competition. It didn’t come easy; however, brainstorming the “something” that people will know you by for decades to come is a delicate process. You’d be surprised at how some of these places came up with their now famously recognized names. Continue reading and discover the history behind how some of your favorite brands found their names.

Adidas Comes From A Person’s Name

for adidas
Araya Diaz/Getty Images for PacSun
Araya Diaz/Getty Images for PacSun

Adidas has had a long reign alongside Nike for top athletic apparel in America for quite some time now. The brand continues to sign stellar talent to the roster that only bolsters their name.

How exactly did they come up with Adidas? It comes from the founder, Adolf Dassler, who began making sports shoes after serving in the war. Adidas combines his nickname, Adi, and the first letters from his last name. Simple but effective.

All Thanks To A Spelling Error?

google image
Joan Cros/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Joan Cros/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Where would we be without Google? The online search engine is no longer just that, as it’s expanded into something more expansive over the past years. Google now sits in our homes as smart hubs, in our ears as earbuds, and in our pockets with smartphones, along with many other products.

One day at Stanford University, founder Larry Page brainstormed some ideas for a data-index website with a few other students. Someone suggested googolplex, which is a one followed by 100 zeroes. They arrived at Google after someone spelled it wrong.

Lululemon Is Intentionally Hard To Say

the store
Gary Hershorn/Getty Images
Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

The yoga-wear brand Lululemon is all the rage among those who participate in the mindful activity. Customers can get their fix of yoga pants and tops to wear while they work on their spiritual journey. Founder Chip Wilson came up with a name that the Japanese wouldn’t be able to pronounce.

“It was thought that a Japanese marketing firm would not try to create a North American sounding brand with the letter ‘L’ because the sound does not exist in Japanese phonetics,” Wilson wrote. “By including an ‘L’ in the name it was thought the Japanese consumer would find the name innately North American and authentic.”

Ikea’s Founder Felt Creative

employees clapping
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Ikea is where you go when you need new home furnishing but you don’t want to pay too much. They have a lot of options to choose from and a food court, so chances are, you’re going to be in there for a while after you arrive.

The way they found their name was thanks to the company’s founder, Ingvar Kamprad. He took the first two initials of his name and combined them with the farm and village he grew up on, Elmtaryd and Agunnaryd.

A Fusion Of Words Brings Us Verizon

with Luke Bryan
Donald Bowers/Getty Images for Samsung
Donald Bowers/Getty Images for Samsung

Verizon is undoubtedly one of the premier wireless networks there is. Compared to the others, the competition hardly comes close. Verizon came about after a merger between GTE and Bell Atlantic took place.

The company’s name comes from mixing the Latin word veritas which means truth, and horizon, which implies that the brand is always looking forward. That isn’t as complex as some of the other ones we have come across so far on this list. Keeping it simple is great tactic.

Speak It In Any Language

guy on rolex horse
Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images
Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images

Founder of Rolex, Hans Wilsdorf thought of everyone when he figured out the name for Rolex. He wanted people to be able to say it in any language, which is a brilliant idea. The way he came up with the word, “Rolex” is certainly interesting.

“I tried combining the letters of the alphabet in every possible way,” said Wilsdorf, according to Rolex. “This gave me some hundred names, but none of them felt quite right. One morning, while riding on the upper deck of a horse-drawn omnibus along Cheapside in the City of London, a genie whispered ‘Rolex’ in my ear.”

Combining Words Brought Forth Panera Bread

server at panera
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Panera’s Facebook page says that the chain’s name “has Latin and Spanish roots.” Let’s break it down a bit now, shall we? Pan in Spanish means bread and era means time or age.

When you put the two together you get Panera or “age of bread.” The founder of Panera Bread, Ron Shaich also says that the name stems from breadbasket, which is a Latin word. You would think they sold Mexican food at this place!

Trying To Compete With The Elite

woman walking
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

You can find all the latest fashion trends at J. Crew, but expect to spend a little extra cash. They aren’t as expensive as some other places, namely Ralph Lauren, the other brand J. Crew strategically based their name around for competition.

Forbes says, The name Crew was picked to compete with Ralph Lauren’s Polo label and [founder Arthur] Cinader added the J because he though it added [cachet].” That makes sense since you’ll find a lot of the same gear in these stores.

Pepsi Came From A Medical Term

pepsi b
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Pepsi
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Pepsi

Pepsi, one of America’s leading soft beverages attracts many drinkers with its classic pop taste similar to that of Coca-Cola. Pepsi inventor Caleb Davis Bradham started off wanting to be a doctor, but a family emergency led him to leave med school and become a pharmacist instead.

The first name he had for the beverage was “Brad’s Drink,” but that would only last for three years. He then switched it to Pepsi-Cola, which he took from dyspepsia, meaning indigestion.

Zara Was Originally Zorba

store front
John Milner/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
John Milner/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The high-end retail store Zara originated in Spain thanks to founder Amancio Ortega. He first named his company after the 1964 film Zorba the Greek, but it wouldn’t last long.

The first store opened in 1975, two blocks from a bar called Zorba. The bar owner told Ortega it would be too confusing to have the same name, even with Ortego having already made the mold for his sign. That’s when he restructured the letters so he could make a word that closely resembled the original – thus forming Zara.

Starbucks Came From Moby-Dick

emblem
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The people love Starbucks, don’t they! Do all the coffee lovers know that Starbucks got its name from Moby-Dick? Starbucks co-founder Gorgon Bowker said they looked through words that started with “st” because it’s a powerful sound.

“Somebody somehow came up with an old mining map of the Cascades and Mount Rainier, and there was an old mining town called Starbo,” he said. “As soon as I saw Starbo, I, of course, jumped to Melville’s first mate [named Starbuck] in Moby-Dick.”

The Generation Gap

the gap outside
Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images
Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

Gap, one of the most famous department stores for kids and adults. They carry reasonably inexpensive clothes that are trendy and made of decent quality. The store first opened in 1969 with one intention.

Gap aimed to sell good jeans, that’s it. Now they’ve expanded to much more and they don’t discriminate with age. The name comes from the generation gap between children and grownups. That’s as obvious as it is clever if you ask us.

Wawa Comes From A Pennsylvania Area

outside the store
Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

While Wawa isn’t located in every state across America, those who do get the pleasure of having one nearby enjoy the convenience store a great deal. Why wouldn’t they, it has everything someone could ask for in a store.

The origins of the name stem from an area in Pennsylvania for starters. Also, Wawa is a Native-American word for a Canada Goose. If you look at the logo, you’ll see the winged animal flying above the lettering.

This Ice Cream Name Is Made Up

couple eating
Peter Jordan – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images
Peter Jordan – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Reuben Mattus is a Jewish immigrant from Poland who did the honors of naming his ice-cream brand Häagen-Dazs as a way to pay tribute to Poland. Some think it stands for something, but it doesn’t.

“The only country which saved the Jews during [the war] was Denmark, so I put together a totally fictitious Danish name and had it registered,” Mattus said. “Häagen-Dazs doesn’t mean anything. [But] it would attract attention, especially with the umlaut.”

Just Do It

neymar jr
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

We learned how Adidas received their name, now its time for Nike. The ultimate sporting apparel brand is more than a giant swoosh on a shoe, there is a history involved too.

It started off as Blu Ribbon Sports in 1964, but that ended up changing come 1971. Co-founders Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman originally wanted to name it “Dimension 6,” but that didn’t pan out. In the end, it was Nike’s first employee, Jeff Johnson who would come up with Nike, who is the Greek Goddess of Victory.

A Dead Language Inspired Venmo

the app
Illustration by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Illustration by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Venmo brought joy to a ton of people when it first came around in 2009. Allowing users to send money virtually was one of the best ideas of the decade as cash started to become increasingly digitized.

“When we were brainstorming names, one of the roots we were exploring for inspiration was the Latin, vendo/vendere, ‘to sell.’ As soon as we said venmo, we liked it because it was short and made for a good verb: ‘Just Venmo me for dinner,'” founder Andrew Kortina said.

The Gators Couldn’t Take The Heat

usain bolt
Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images
Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images

Football is a strenuous sport, both during the games and at practice. You’re running around at full speed dodging men trying to take you down with full force or you’re doing the tackling wearing a bunch of gear.

Thankfully, a team of doctors at the University of Florida came up with a genius idea. They created a sports drink for the football players who had a tough time keeping up in the hot climate. That’s why we now have the brand name Gatorade.

Under Armour Wanted British Spelling For THIS Reason

under the armour
Jeff Schear/Getty Images for Under Armour
Jeff Schear/Getty Images for Under Armour

Under Armour used to be the brand that no athlete would run to, but thanks to an overloaded roster of star power, things changed. With people like Steph Curry, Tom Brady, and Dennis Smith Jr with the brand, they’ve helped ascend it to higher heights.

As far as the name, Body Armor couldn’t get trademarked, so CEO Kevin Plank came up with something else. “The reason we added the ‘U’ in ‘Armour’ is that I was skeptical at the time about whether this whole internet thing would stick,” Plank told The Post. “So I thought the phone number 888-4ARMOUR was much more compelling than 888-44ARMOR.”

Amazon Got Its Name From The Biggest River

the mega website
PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP via Getty Images
PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP via Getty Images

Thanks to Amazon, Jeff Bezos has more billions than he probably ever could have imagined. The E-commerce site grew into something no one ever saw coming and currently sits on top of the world.

Ironic that it got the name from the world’s biggest river. Bezos had a couple of ideas he wanted to use, such as relentless.com (if you try going to relentless.com, you’ll be redirected to Amazon’s site). The billion-dollar man officially settled on Amazon and even incorporated the body of water in the company’s first logo.

JCPenny Has An Interesting Story

the retail store
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

JCPenny is one of the largest retailers in America. They sell pretty much whatever you’re looking for, from clothes to bedroom furniture, and the prices aren’t as steep as you would expect. You can also find them at many shopping malls.

How the department store received its name is quite simple. The founder’s name is James Cash Penny. First of all, that’s an outstanding name, so why not use your initials and your last name for the brand?