How these brands got their names

“What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” said William Shakespeare.

Brand pundits today may not quite agree with Shakespeare though.  A lot of considerations and deliberation go into naming brands. A unique name or a familiar name that is simple easy to pronounce or spell, and is expressive as well, is known to improve brand awareness and brand recall. Some brands select names that appear on top in alphabetical listing. Brand names are mostly chosen to align with the essence of the brand.

Here’s how some of these well-known brands got their names:


  1. Amazon 

Jeff Bezos initially had the name ’Cadabra’ (from abracadabra), in his mind but when his lawyer misheard the word as çadaver’ Bezos immediately dropped the name. He then zeroed in on Amazon after the world’s second largest river. The name suggesting the ability to scale up was launched with the tagline ‘Earth’s biggest book store’ , with an arrow spanning from A to Z, and figured on top in Alphabetical order .Amazon-Kindle-logo


  1. ASUS

Taiwan’s leading computer hardware and electronics company company in Taiwan, known for its Notebooks, Motherboards, and now Zenfone, derives its name from Pegasus, the winged horse in Greek mythology that symbolizes wisdom and knowledge. Embodying the strength, purity, and adventurous spirit of this fantastic creature, ASUS aims to soar to new heights with each new product it creates.



  1. Axe

First introduced as ‘Lynx’ in France, Unilever’s iconic male toiletries brand, Axe is now marketed in more than 60 countries worldwide. The word referring to the weapon goes well with its overtly sexualized advertisements, which show attractive women lusting over men who use áxe.



  1. Canon

The Japanese manufacturer of camera and optical products was originally called “Kwanon” after the Buddhist goddess of mercy. The company’s logo, depicted the thousand-armed goddess. The name was later tweaked to “Canon” (which means precision in Latin) to make it easier for international markets to accept.


  1. Cisco

 The name is picked up from San Francisco. The company’s logo represents the Golden Gate Bridge.



  1. Google

The name “Google’ originated from the misspelling of the word “Googol”, the term used for the number 1, followed by 100 zeroes. In 1997, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, wanted a name related to the indexing of an immense amount of data for their rapidly improving search technology. During a brainstorming session, they zeroed in on ‘Googol’. An error in spelling, resulted in registering the name ‘’ in place of ‘Googol’.



  1. Nike

The name Nike (pronounced ny’-kee) comes from the Greek goddess of victory. Nike’s first employee, Jeff Johnson, came up with the name. Though the origin of the name may not be widely remembered but the name is memorable and has a universal appeal.

Nike logo

  1. Nivea

Nivea, the cosmetic cream was named for its snow white colour. The name Nivea comes from the latin word ‘Nix’ (snow) and ‘nivis’(of snow).



  1. Pepsi

Would you believe that Pepsi is named after the digestive enzyme ‘Pepsin’?


  1. Reebok

    The global athletic footwear and Apparel Company is named after the grey rhebok, a type of African antelope. The company initially known as J.W. Foster and Sons was renamed “Reebok,” by two of the founder’s grandsons, Joe and Jeff Foster, who found the name in a South African dictionary that Joe Foster had won in a running race as a boy.




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  • author's avatar

    By: Somali K Chakrabarti

    Hi there ! I am a management and leadership coach and a ‘çlinical blogger’. Well, that’s what my family & friends call me now ! Here, I tell stories of different brands, how people relate to the brands and the values, beliefs and emotions that they associate with the brands. Hope you enjoy reading my posts.

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19 thoughts on “How these brands got their names

  • January 5, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Awesome post! Was aware of Amazon, obviously as I work there, and Niké. Didn’t know rest. There’s a Chinese god of mercy called Kwan Yin. Possibly, the Japanese Kwannon is an aberration.

    Loved it! 🙂

    • January 5, 2016 at 5:48 pm

      Thank you Rakesh. Google search reveals that Kwannon is the Japanese alias for Chinese Guan-Yin, Kuan-Yin 🙂

  • January 5, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    Very very interesting post. Wonderfully analyzed. Liked it very much.Thanks

  • January 5, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    A very interesting and informative post, Somali! I knew about Amazon only…had no idea about the others. Thanks for adding quite a volume to my GK … 😀

    • January 6, 2016 at 2:10 am

      Thank you Maniparna. Such considerations come in handy when you want to name any of your products -say a site, a book, a clothing line…just anything :).

  • January 6, 2016 at 5:59 am

    A very well written post on brand names.

  • January 7, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    Ha ha this is a brilliant post Somali, cadabra and cadaver – he he 😀 😀 .. HIllarious!

  • January 12, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    Some are very interesting…like the misspelled Google! Thank you for sharing.

  • February 21, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    That was quite an interesting post.

    Knew only about Nike and Google
    About Amazon, just knew that the current one is named after the river.

    Thanks for sharing this post. Might have taken quite a lot of research. No?


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