15 Brand Names Decoded

Some time or another, you’ve probably contemplated how the name Walmart came about, or how a name like Starbucks became so popular. We’ve wondered the same things, so we set out to learn the origins of 15 popular brand names. Check out how some of the most-favored brands began their corporation and who or what sparked the inspiration for its name. [via womansday]


One of the most well-known beauty stores actually began in France in 1969 and later opened its first US store in 1998 in New York City. Sephora gets its name from a blend of two words. The first is the Greek word “sephos,” which means “pretty,” and the second is the name “Zipporah” who, according to the Bible, was the wife of Moses known for her beauty. Photo courtesy of Nelson Cupeles.

Banana Republic

This popular and classic clothing store began in 1978 with founders Mel and Patricia Ziegler. The name was meant to reflect the originality and travel theme that the store wanted to maintain. Photo by Retna.


Have you ever wondered what these letters stand for? At the start of the company, founder Leo Goodwin’s first goal was to attract the U.S. government employee and military personnel demographic. “Government Employees Insurance Company” was the initial slogan. Photo courtesy of Geico.com.


Believe it or not, the word “Google” was a play on words by founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1997. They longed for a name that would reveal the wide range of information that lives on the Web; the word “Google” was derived from the mathematical term “googol,” meaning a 1 followed by 100 zeros. Photo courtesy of Google.com.


Another brand name that originated as an acronym, Yahoo stands for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.” Creators Jerry Yang and David Filo transformed “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web” in 1994 into the search engine site that we have today, claiming they also liked the actual definition of a yahoo meaning “rude, unsophisticated, uncouth.” Photo courtesy of Yahoo.com.


Created in 1934 from the Danish phrase “leg godt,” which means “play well,” the name LEGO was later found to mean “I put together” in Latin—the perfect description for this beloved children’s toy company. Photo courtesy of Lego.com.


eBay founder Pierre Omidyar originally started a website called AuctionWeb for listing, viewing and placing bids on the products. When his wife mentioned she wanted to find other PEZ collectors to trade with, the process began for a new and improved site. At that time, Omidyar’s web consulting company was called Echo Bay Technology Group, however, when he tried to register the domain name EchoBay.com—it was already taken. So he settled on a shorter version: eBay.com. Photo courtesy of ebay.com.


We all know and love the familiar face of the owner and spokesperson for this American fast-food chain, Dave Thomas. When challenged to create a business could compete with Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1969, Thomas came up with Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers restaurant, naming it after his daughter Melinda’s nickname, Wendy. Photo courtesy of Nelson Cupeles.


After touring the country in order to become familiar with everything discount retail, Sam Walton began the Walmart phenomenon with his wife in Rogers, Arkansas, in 1962, gaining inspiration for the name from the couple’s own last name. Photo courtesy of Walmart.com.


Gap Inc. was started by Donald and Doris Fisher with the dream of a clothing store that bridged the generation gap. The store was meant to target a younger generation, but in a classic, yet casual way. Creator Don Fisher “couldn’t find a decent pair of jeans that fit him, so in 1969 he solved his problem by creating the Gap brand.” Photo courtesy of Nelson Cupeles.


In 1962, the first Target store opened its doors in Minnesota. The Director of Publicity, Stewart K. Widdess, described his thinking behind the creation of the store name and logo: “As a marksman’s goal is to hit the center bull’s-eye, the new store would do much the same in terms of retail goods, services, commitment to community, price, value and overall experience.” Photo courtesy of Target.com.


This reliable bookstore was named after the original founders, Tom and Louis Borders, who opened an 800-square-foot used bookstore in 1971, calling it simply Borders Book Shop. As the company expanded over the years, the name has remained the same. Photo courtesy of Borders.com.


The world’s largest chain of hamburger fast-food joints was founded by none other than Dick and Mac McDonald in 1948. The only items originally served were the classic hamburger, cheeseburger and an assortment of drinks, potato chips and pie. The hamburger was first priced at only 15 cents! Photo courtesy of Nelson Cupeles.

CVS Pharmacy

When this retailer opened its doors in 1963, selling only health and beauty products and later adding the pharmacy departments in 1967, the letters stood for “Consumer Value Stores.” Now, present CEO, Thomas Ryan, likes to say the letters represent “Convenience, Value and Service.” Photo courtesy of Nelson Cupeles.


Surprisingly enough, this well-liked coffeehouse got its name from the first mate in Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick. Originally called Starbucks Coffee, Tea and Spices, it has since had its name shortened to Starbucks Coffee Company. Photo courtesy of Nelson Cupeles.

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