Great names created by non-professionals

As history shows, not always the talent of the copywriter contributed to the creation of a great brand. Sometimes the name came from the founder’s last name or place of residence.

One of the biggest challenges for people starting a new business is coming up with a name for their brainchild. With deep meaning, on theme, easy, memorable, and that, of course, remains for the ages.

History shows that the popularity of many brands is purely historical, not because of ingenious naming.

Days and weeks are spent searching for the hidden word, paying obscene bills from branding agencies.

But as the history of the most successful brands, which live and own our minds for decades, the most talented copywriters and expensive agencies, as well as naming, branding and lots of other clever words often have nothing to do.

The names of famous brands have become the names of places, the names and surnames of the founders, a reflection of their views of the world, religious beliefs and even their food preferences. Not to mention the simple influence of circumstances.

Adidas and Puma


Once upon a time there were two brothers, Adolf and Rudolf Dassler. They had a family business – they produced sleeping slippers. The soles consisted of car tires and the tops were made from decommissioned military uniforms. One invented new models and the other sold slippers. Then came training shoes, sneakers with booties. There were even skates. By the early forties, Dassler was the unrecognized standard of global athletic footwear.

But after his father’s death, the brothers fought tooth and nail. Exactly half divided the property – two large shoe factories, and each went his own way. Adi Dasler began to produce Adidas shoes. Rudolf, Ruda shoes, which later became Puma shoes.

It took place in the German town of Herzogenaurach, which the brothers also split into two. The employees of these factories only went to their own taverns, drank different beers, and their children attended different schools. The companies kept their own soccer teams.

Even today, an employee of one company is immediately fired if he is seen wearing shoes or clothes produced by a competitor.


Ole Kirk Kritiansen, the company’s founder, created the name by combining the Danish words “play” and “good” (leg and godt). In Latin, “lego” means: “I read” or “I connect.” A carpenter by trade, Christiansen first made wooden toys, which over time became so popular that other craftsmen had to be involved. Wooden cubes evolved into plastic cubes, and Christiansen’s son brought the idea of connecting and disconnecting them from England. Easy to pronounce even a very young child, this name is remembered instantly and forever – not for nothing a passion for the designer often have and adults. Lego is a word for game and company.



Auchan – From the French name of the area where the company founder Gerard Mullier was born – hauts champs (literally – high fields), in French it is pronounced O Champ.

Originally the company was registered in Russia as Oshan, then, given the peculiarities of Russian linguistics (O – unstressed, pronounced like A), the company was re-registered.



Adobe Photoshop is on almost every second Russian computer. The company is named after Adobe Creek, which flowed behind the house of the company founder John Warnock.



Apple is the favorite fruit of company founder Steve Jobs. After three months of futile attempts to find a name for the new business, he gave his partner an ultimatum: “I will name Apple if you do not suggest a better one by 5 o’clock. Apples Macintosh is the name of a variety of apples sold in the United States.



BMW is an acronym for Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, in the Russian translation, the Bavarian Motor Works. The white and blue circular BMW emblem is still in use today, a stylized image of a spinning airplane propeller, and dates back to this period in the company’s history. The design also points to the checkered white and blue flag of Bavaria.



Canon is after Kwanon, the Buddhist god of mercy. It was changed to Canon to avoid protests from religious organizations. Also, the main buyers at first were American soldiers, and for them the original name was too complicated.



Casio – after the company’s founder, Kashio Tadao.



Cisco – San Francisco for short. Logo depicts the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.



Coca-Cola – the basic ingredients of Coca-Cola, when the drink was discovered, were as follows: three parts coca leaves (the same leaves were used to make the drug cocaine) to one part tropical cola tree nuts.



Daewoo – the founder of the company, Kim Woo Chong, named the company modestly, “The Big Universe”, as it is translated from the Korean.



Fuji – the name comes from the names of the founding companies – Furukawa and Siemens. The company was called FuSi, and only later was renamed Fuji. Also known legend has it that the name was given in honor of the highest mountain in Japan, the Fuji. Subsequently, its subsidiary Fuji Tsushinki (telecommunications) was renamed Fujitsu.



Google – the name came from the word Googol (a number with 100 zeros).



Honda – the name of the founder of Soichiro Honda Honeywell.


HP (Hewlett-Packard)

HP (Hewlett-Packard) – Founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard tossed a coin to decide whose name would be first in the name. As you can imagine, Bill won.



The name “IKEA” stands for “Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd”, meaning the name of the founder and the two villages he lived in.



Hyundai is Korean for “present” (time).



Kodak – K is a favorite letter of George Eastman, the company’s founder. He looked for words beginning and ending with this letter. Especially since “K” is spelled the same way in all alphabets. In the end, Kodak was chosen, supposedly this is the sound the camera makes when it takes a picture.


LG are the first letters of the two Korean brands Lucky and Goldstar, which merged into one company.



Microsoft is MICROcomputer SOFTware. It was originally written as Micro-Soft. Then the dash was removed.



The name means “three diamonds” or “three rhombuses”, the word “hishi” (when connected, the first syllable becomes voiced according to Japanese phonetics rules and “hi” turns into “bi”) means “chestnut”. It is used to denote a diamond shape.

he Mitsubishi logo is the result of a merger of the family coat of arms of the Iwasaki clan (three rhombuses) and the Tosa clan (three oak leaves growing from the same point). Yataro Iwasaki came from a family that sold its nobility, and after the Meiji Restoration he inherited the Tosa clan’s ship business. Two generations later, Kayota Iwasaki repurposed the business and created Mitsubishi Motors.

Since its inception, the Logo has remained virtually unchanged.



Motorola-Founder Paul Galvin came up with the name when his company started making radios for cars. Many audio component manufacturers at the time ended in “ola”.



Nike – Americans pronounce “Nike,” but acknowledge that they pronounce it incorrectly based on the open syllable rule. In Russian the correct pronunciation is also , not “Nike. In 1978 Blue Ribbon Sports was officially renamed Nike, Inc. The name is believed to be taken from the name of the goddess of victory, Nike.



Siemens was founded in 1847 by Werner von Siemens.



Nikon – originally Nippon Kogaku, means “Japanese optics”.



Nissan – Formerly known as Nichon Sangio, which means “Japanese Industry”.



Nokia – started as a wood processing plant, it expanded into the manufacture of rubber products in the Finnish town of Nokia. The company takes its name from the area where Fredrik Idestam bought the land for his second paper mill in 1868.

Nokia estate is known since the 1270s, although the first document mentioning it dates back to 1505. Present-day Nokia is a small town 15 km away from Tampere. Another thing is that the name of the area is thought to come from an old Finnish word nois (plural nokia), which meant a black sable, which once was found in those places. After the sable became extinct, the word came to mean any animal with black fur, such as the marten.



Hitachi means “dawn” in Japanese.



Intel – the founders Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore wanted to call the company Moore Noyce, but there was already a hotel chain with that name. So they decided to go with the acronym INTegrated ELectronics.



In the postwar years the Americans were wary of everything Japanese, and so it was decided to invent a word that consumers would not associate with Japan. After much agony and there was Sony from the Latin “Sonus” (sound).



Subaru is from the name of the constellation. It is also shown on the company logo.

“Subaru” is the Japanese name for the Pleiades cluster in the constellation of Taurus. Six stars can be seen in the night sky with the naked eye, about 250 more with a telescope. The kana signs, which are used to write the word “Subaru,” translate as “pointing the way” or “gathering together.” In Japan, the name is similar to Mitsuraboshi (“six stars”).



Samsung – Samsung means three stars in Korean, which was depicted on the company’s first logo.




Toyota – named after its founder Sakichi Toyoda. Later changed to the more benign Toyota. Toyota is Japanese for “Toyota”, consisting of eight letters (the lucky number in Japan).



PEPSI – first made in the 1890s in New Bern, North Carolina by pharmacist Caleb Bradham. On August 28, 1898, Brad’s drink was renamed Pepsi-Cola. Pepsi-Cola trademark was registered on June 16, 1903. According to one version, the name “Pepsi” Caleb Bradham derived from the word dyspepsia. According to another version, Caleb Bradham borrowed the name “Pep Kola” from a local competitor, tweaked it a bit and named his drink Pepsi-Cola.

“Pepsi-Cola” is an anagram of the word “Episcopal.” There was a large Episcopalian cathedral across from Bradham’s pharmacy. The company itself denies this version.

A popular organization in the Middle East claims that the word P-E-P-S-I is an acronym for “Pay Every Pence to Save Israel.” According to this theory, the producer of the drink is actually a Zionist organization that funnels money to Israel.

Another version is that Caleb and his visitors simply liked the sound of the word, as it reflected the fact that the carbonated drink gave a kind of liveliness and energy (pep – liveliness of spirit, energy, liveliness).



Philips is a company named after its founder, Friedrich Philips and his son Gerard, who founded it in 1891 in Eindhoven for the production of light bulbs. From carrying light to the people have not abandoned until now, but added a couple of hundred more items to their range.



Xerox comes from the Greek “Xer”, which, contrary to vulgar speculation, translates as “dry”. The thing is that at the time the name for the future giant of copying (late 40s), there was only wet copying, and the author wanted to emphasize the use of dry dye powder in the technology. By the way, it doesn’t sound like “xerox” – according to all rules of English the name can be pronounced as “sirox”.



Yahoo – a word invented by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver’s Travels. It was the name of a repulsive, disgusting person. The founders of Yahoo! Jerry Yang and David Filo chose the name because they called themselves yahoo’im. However, the name now stands for Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.