December 15, 2017

Original Company Names

How 10 Famous Brands Came Up with Their Company Names

Most companies that have been around for any length of time have rumors about how they started and/or how their company name was chosen. Below is a listing of several larger companies that we felt you might find interesting – and the real origins of their company names.

How ebay got its company nameOriginal Company Name: Echo Bay Trading Group
Story Behind the Name: Originally part of an organization called Echo Bay Technology Group, eBay initially tried to register the domain name However, that domain was already owned by Echo Bay Mines Limited, a gold mining company. So, was selected and registered as what the company believed to be the “second best choice.”

How Atari got its company nameOriginal Company Name: Atari
Story Behind the Name: Taken from the Japanese board game Go, “Atari” is a Japanese word used to describe the situation when an opponent’s game piece is in danger of being captured. (Similar to the word check in chess.) The original company was an American group, but wanted a Japanese-sounding company name, so Atari was chosen.

How Virgin Records got their company nameOriginal Company Name: Virgin Records
Story Behind the Name: Virgin Records founder Richard Branson originally started a magazine called Student while still at school. He later founded Virgin (or Virgin Records), which was launched to sell records by mail order. He has been quoted as stating the company name came about by one of the girls from the magazine staff… “one of the girls suggested: ‘What about Virgin? We’re complete virgins at business‘”

How Starbucks Coffee got its company nameOriginal Company Name: Starbucks
Story Behind the Name: Starbucks was actually the company’s second choice and was taken from Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. The originally proposed name for the company was Pequod, but that was rejected by one of the company’s co-founders. (Pequod was the name of the ship in Melville’s famous novel. Starbuck was the ship’s first mate.)

How Arbys got its company nameOriginal Company Name: Arby’s
Story Behind the Name: The name Arby’s comes from the enunciation of the company’s founders – the Raffel Brothers. The brothers actually wanted to use the name “Big Tex” for their restaurant chain, but they were unable to acquire the name from the Akron businessman who was already using it. So, Forrest Raffel said “We came up with Arby’s, which stands for R.B., the initials of Raffel Brothers, although I guess customers might think the initials stand for roast beef.”

How the Mattel Corporation got its company nameOriginal Company Name: Mattel
Story Behind the Name: Nothing terribly exciting about this one. Mattel is a combination of the founders names Harold “Matt” Matson and Elliot Handler.

Original Company Name: Lego
Story Behind the Name: Lego is a is a derivative of the Danish “leg godt” – which means “to play well.” By coincidence (or at least the company claims) the word Lego also means “I put together” in Latin. (Years before the little plastic brick was invented, Lego was in the business of manufacturing wooden toys.)

How Sprint got its company nameOriginal Company Name: Southern Pacific Railroad INTernal Communications
Story Behind the Name: The company name Sprint is a shortened version of Southern Pacific Railroad INTernal Communications. When Sprint was founded, pipelines and railroad tracks were the best / cheapest place to lay communications lines, as the right-of-way was already in place.

How Coca Cola got its company nameOriginal Company Name: Coca-Cola
Story Behind the Name: The name Coca-Cola was taken from the coca leaves and kola nuts used as flavoring in the popular soda drink. Creator John S. Pemberton changed the “K” of kola to a “C” to make the name look better on the logo.

How Wendy restaurant got its company nameOriginal Company Name: Wendy’s
Story Behind the Name: Wendy’s restaurant chain founder Dave Thomas named the franchise after his daughter Melinda, who was nicknamed Wendy.


All company logos are the property of each individual brand / organization.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *