What's In A Name

  • Jun 8, 2010

Do you ever wonder where company names come from? Sometimes multi-million dollar consulting contracts are involved, but sometimes it's just a whim! Regardless, they can have a major impact on public relations. Here are a few well-known brands and stories of their origins.

Apple Inc. began in 1976 when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, inspired by the Altair computer kit, built their first computer in a garage. Jobs had worked on an apple farm during the summer, and had developed a love for the fruit. An affection for the Beatles' record label was an influence as well. (He never envisioned the impact that would have later.) The two young men settled on the name because they couldn't think of a better one.

Google Inc. is a play on googol, the mathematical term for the number 1 followed by a million zeroes. The name ties to the mission of organizing the enormous amount of information on the web. Who knew the name would become a verb?

Choosing a business name can be scientific or spontaneous 

Nike, Inc. is named for Greek mythology's goddess of victory, an appropriate connection for an athletic apparel company. The famous “swoosh” logo was created by a freelance designer, Carolyn Davidson, for $35. Even with the reported “additional compensation” provided later, this was among the biggest bargains in marketing history.

Yahoo Inc. reflects the sense of humor of founders Jerry Yang and David Filo. In 1994, they came up with the name as an acronym for “Yet Another Heirarchical Officious Oracle.” They knew it was a keeper when a dictionary revealed one meaning of the word as “rude, unsophisticated, uncouth.”

Verizon Communications, Inc. probably spent more money than all of the above to come up with a name when GTE merged with Bell Atlantic in 2000. In an approach similar to pharmaceutical companies, they made up a word based on several associations. The letters “V” and “Z” are thought to connote speed; the latin “veritas” suggests certainty and reliability; and “horizon” represents a visionary and forward-looking approach, according to the company.

Chances are, your company already has a name. If you need some help making it top-of-mind for your customers and prospects, call APTCO.

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