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Big Brand Names and Logos With Crazy Beginnings

Brick Red. Sunset Orange. Goldenrod. When you see these Crayola names, you can picture the color perfectly, because the name is descriptive enough that you know exactly what to imagine.

Adjectives work great for colors, but what about names for cars? Or shoes? Or products that are just now being invented? Coming up with a brand name is a difficult task that requires a lot of creativity and thought. Is there a tried-and-true way to come up with a brand name that will stick in the mind of the consumer?

Is there a set of steps that logo designers can follow to create a logo that complements the brand name perfectly? There are processes logo designers can follow to ensure they’re creating a strong logo. One of those is learning the origins of the names and logos for some of the biggest brands out there. In our recent article, we discuss just how 10 major companies came up with their brand names.

Big Brand Names and Logos With Crazy Beginnings

When it comes to branding, the name of the game is, well, striking names and stunning logos. A name sometimes says so much, and sometimes it doesn’t say anything at all – it’s just a word we associate with a specific company or product. 

So how did the most famous brands get their memorable names? These ten companies have names with origin stories that you probably never would have guessed. 


Let’s start with one of the craziest: the ice cream dream brand Häagen-Dazs. It looks like the last names of two people who came together to create a sweet delicious treat. Kind of like the reverse of Ben and Jerry’s – our last names are memorable, so we’ll stick them on the container. Right? 

Wrong! Häagen and Dazs are two totally made-up words! The founder thought, “Well, consumers think of Scandinavia as a place of milkmaids and delicious, authentic treats, so why don’t we brand this ice cream with the most Scandinavian-sounding name we can come up with?” That’s what he did, and it paid off big time. 

On a more serious note, the founder also wanted to pay homage to Denmark and give the brand a Danish-sounding name. He appreciated the efforts Denmark made for the Jewish people in World War II. So he decided to make up a name that would sound Danish, and he did!

This type of naming is called foreign branding, and considering how successful Häagen-Dazs is, we can see just how well it works.


Now let’s take a look at another food and beverage company: Coca-Cola. This brand is universally famous for its striking red and white wordmark logo. But just how did the company come up with the name? 

It’s actually pretty simple: coca leaves and kola nuts were two key ingredients in the beverage. John S. Pemberton, the inventor of the drink, changed the “k” in “kola” to a “c” to make it match “coca,” and that’s how the name was born. 

It sounds pleasing to the ear, and with the matching “c”s it looks pleasing to the eye as well. 


Another brand that uses red in its wordmark logo is Toyota, whose red and white brand name is famous around the world. In this case, the founder’s last name did come into play – Sakichi Toyoda. 

However, to make the name sound more pleasing and resonant, the “d” was changed to a “t.” It also imprinted in eight Japanese letters when the “t” was used, and eight is a number believed to be lucky in Japan.


While we’re on the topic of cars, we should dive into the origin story of the famous luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz. The company was originally called Daimler-Benz after its founders. Karl Benz was the first person to design an automobile that generates its own power. 

Many years later, Emil Jellinke bought out the Daimlers and renamed the company after his daughter, Mercedes. A sweet gesture from a loving father led to this iconic car company’s name.


Cars and construction go hand-in-hand, and now we’ll take a look at the famous tractor company, Caterpillar. One day a company photographer for Holt Tractor Co and Best Tractor Co was watching the tracks the vehicle left behind. Observing the movement closely, he determined that it was just like a caterpillar – and that’s how the name of the company was born. 


Another brand that takes its name from nature is one we’re all familiar with: Apple. Just how did the tech giant that changed the course of human history come up with its famous name? 

There’s some debate about this one, as there will be with any super-famous company. Some say that it’s because Apple comes before Atari in the phone book. Others say it’s because Steve Jobs liked apples a lot and decided the name was good enough.

Still others point to the fact that an apple reputedly fell on Isaac Newton’s head and led to major scientific advances. And others still point to the slow seed of an apple growing into a delicious fruit, like the small seed of a good idea turning into a tech giant. 

This brand name’s origin might forever remain shrouded in mystery, but we know one thing – it’s a brand that won’t be forgotten. 


On the subject of top tech companies, here’s one that has a much simpler, verified origin: Adobe. Adobe’s co-founder, John Warnock, named the company after the Adobe Creek River that ran behind his house. It stuck and it worked, and now the name is synonymous with digital technology that designers can’t live without. 


Let’s look at one more tech giant with a clear origin story for its name: Google. What would we do without you? The team at Google was brainstorming names when they decided to use a word that would be reflective of its technology. A “Googol” is the number 1 followed by 100 zeroes – a lot more than the mind can process, similar to all the results that the company’s search engine can deliver. 

Somehow the name was spelled wrong, and instead of calling itself “Googol,” the mistaken spelling of “Google” was used – and the company ran with it, to its enormous success. 


Enough about tech: let’s get outside and do some running in our Adidas shoes! Where did this brand come up with its unique and memorable name? Some people think it’s from the slogan, “All Day I Dream About Sports,” but that’s not the case. It’s actually a combination of the founder’s nickname and his last name: Adolf (Adi) Dassler. That’s a way to leave your mark!


Last but not least, we can’t finish this list without paying homage to the famous furniture giant with the cool-sounding name: just where in the world does the word IKEA come from? 

Well, like Adidas, It draws on the founder’s name. Ingvar Kamprad took his initials and the initials of the Swedish property and village where he grew up – Elmtaryd Agunnaryd – and combined them all to form the name of his company: IKEA.

In Conclusion… 

Creativity is the key factor in coming up with a striking, memorable name, and there’s no one perfect way to come up with a brand name and logo that will wow the world. Spending a long time thinking about what’s important, what sounds good, and what will work for the company will help you come up with a great brand name!