How companies got their names -
ABN AMRO - In the 1960s, the Nederlandse Handelmaatschappij (Dutch Trading Society; 1824) and the Twentsche Bank merged to form the Algemene Bank Nederland ( ABN; General Bank of the Netherlands). In 1966, the Amsterdamsche Bank and the Rotterdamsche Bank merged to form the Amro Bank. In 1991, ABN and Amro Bank merged to form ABN AMRO.
Accenture - Accent on the Future. Greater-than 'accent' over the logo's t points forward towards the future. The name Accenture was proposed by a company employee in Norwayas part of a internal name finding process (BrandStorming). Prior to January 1, 2001 the company was called Andersen Consulting.
Adidas - from the name of the founder Adolf (Adi) Dassler
Adobe - came from name of the river Adobe Creek that ran behind the houses of founders John Warnock and Chuck Geschke.
AltaVista - Spanish for "high view".
AMD - Advanced Micro Devices.
Apache - The name was chosen from respect for the Native American Indian tribe of Apache (IndÃ©), well-known for their superior skills in warfare strategy and their inexhaustible endurance. Secondarily, and more popularly (though incorrectly) accepted, it's considered a cute name that stuck: its founders got started by applying patches to code written for NCSA's httpd daemon. The result was 'a patchy' server â€" thus the name Apache.
Apple - for the favourite fruit of co-founder Steve Jobs and/or for the time he worked at an apple orchard. He was three months late in filing a name for the business, and he threatened to call his company Apple Computer if his colleagues didn't suggest a better name by 5 p.m. Apple's Macintosh is named after a popular variety of apple sold in the US. Apple also wanted to distance itself from the cold, unapproachable, complicated imagery created by the other computer companies at the time had names like IBM, NEC, DEC, ADPAC, Cincom, Dylakor, Input, Integral Systems, SAP, PSDI, Syncsort and Tesseract. The new company sought to reverse the entrenched view of computers in order to get people to use them at home. They looked for a name that was unlike the names of traditional computer companies, a name that also supported a brand positioning strategy that was to be perceived as simple, warm, human, approachable and different. Note: Apple had to get approval from the Beatle's Apple Corps to use the name 'Apple' and paid a one-time royalty of $100,000 to McIntosh Laboratory, Inc., a maker of high-end audio equipment, to use the derivative name 'Macintosh', known now as just 'Mac'.
AT&T - American Telephone and Telegraph Corporation officially changed its name to AT&T in the 1990s.
Bauknecht - Founded as an electrotechnical workshop in 1919 by Gottlob Bauknecht .
BBC - Stands for British Broadcasting Corporation.
BenQ - Bringing ENjoyment and Quality to life
Blaupunkt - Blaupunkt (Blue dot) was founded in 1923 under the name Ideal. Their core business was the manufacturing of headphones. If the headphones came through quality tests, the company would give the headphones a blue dot. The headphones quickly became known as the blue dots or blaue Punkte. The quality symbol would become a trademark, and the trademark would become the company name in 1938.
BMW - abbreviation of Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Factories)
Borealis - The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis, is the celestial phenomenon that features bursts of light in colourful patterns dancing across the night skies of the north. Borealis, inspired from the shining brilliance of the Northern Lights, was formed in 1994 out of the merger between two northern oil companies, Norway's Statoil and Finland's Neste.
BP - formerly British Petroleum, now "BP" (The slogan "Beyond Petroleum" has incorrectly been taken to refer to the company's new name following its rebranding effort in 2000).
BRAC - abbreviation for Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, world's largest NGO (non governmental organization). It works in development programs around the world.
Bridgestone - named after founder Shojiro Ishibashi. The surname Ishibashi (??) means "stone bridge", i.e. "bridge of stone".
Bull - Compagnie des machines Bull was founded in Paristo exploit the patents for punched card machines taken out by a Norwegian engineer, Fredrik Rosing Bull.
Cadillac - Cadillac was named after the 18th century French explorer Antoine Laumet de La Mothe , sieur de Cadillac, founder of Detroit, Michigan. Cadillac is a small town in the South of France.
Canon - Originally (1933) Precision Optical Instruments Laboratory the new name (1935) derived from the name of the company's first camera, the Kwannon, in turn named after the Japanese name of the Buddhist bodhisattva of mercy.
CGI - from the first letter of Information Management Consultant in french (Conseiller en Gestion et Informatique).
Cisco - short for San Francisco. It has also been suggested that it was "CIS-co" -- Computer Information Services was the department at StanfordUniversitythat the founders worked in.
COBRA - Computadores Brasileiros, "Brazilian Computers", electronics and services company, was the first state-owned designer and producer of computers in the 1970s, later acquired by the Banco do Brasil.
Coca-Cola - Coca-Cola's name is derived from the coca leaves and kola nuts used as flavoring. Coca-Cola creator John S. Pemberton changed the 'K' of kola to 'C' for the name to look better.
Colgate-Palmolive - formed from a merger of soap manufacturers Colgate & Company and Palmolive-Peet. Peet was dropped in 1953. Colgate was named after William Colgate, an English immigrant, who set up a starch, soap and candle business in New York Cityin 1806. Palmolive was named for the two oils (Palm and Olive) used in its manufacture.
Compaq - from "comp" for computer, and "pack" to denote a small integral object; or: Compatibility And Quality; or: from the company's first product, the very compact Compaq Portable.
Comsat - an American digital telecommunications and satellite company, founded during the President Kennedy era to develop the technology. Contraction of Communications Satellites.
Daewoo - the company founder Kim Woo Chong called it Daewoo which means "Great Universe" in Korean.
Dell - named after its founder, Michael Dell. The company changed its name from Dell Computer in 2003.
DHL - the company was founded by Adrian Dalsey, Larry Hillblom , and Robert Lynn , whose last initials form the company's moniker.
eBay - Pierre Omidyar, who had created the Auction Web trading website, had formed a web consulting concern called Echo Bay Technology Group. " EchoBay" didn't refer to the town in Nevada, the nature area close to Lake Mead, or any real place. "It just sounded cool," Omidyar reportedly said. When he tried to register EchoBay.com, though, he found that Echo Bay Mines, a gold mining company, had gotten it first. So, Omidyar registered what (at the time) he thought was the second best name: eBay.com.
Epson - Epson Seiko Corporation, the Japanese printer and peripheral manufacturer, was named from "Son of Electronic Printer"
Fanta - was originally invented by Max Keith in Germanyin 1940 when World War II made it difficult to get the Coca-Cola syrup to Nazi Germany. Fanta was originally made from byproducts of cheese and jam production. The name comes from the German word for imagination (Fantasie or Phantasie), because the inventors thought that imagination was needed to taste oranges from the strange mix.
Fazer - named after its founder, Karl Fazer.
Fiat - acronym of Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (Italian Factory of Cars of Turin).
Fuji - from the highest Japanese mountain Mount Fuji.
Google - the name is an intentional misspelling of the word googol, reflecting the company's mission to organize the immense amount of information available online.
Haier - Chinese ? "sea" and ? (a transliteration character; also means "you" in Literary Chinese)
HP - Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard tossed a coin to decide whether the company they founded would be called Hewlett-Packard or Packard-Hewlett.
Hitachi - old place name, literally "sunrise"
Honda - from the name of its founder, Soichiro Honda
Honeywell- from the name of Mark Honeywell founder of Honeywell Heating Specialty Co. It later merged with Minneapolis Heat Regulator Company and was finally called Honeywell Inc. in 1963.
Hotmail - Founder Jack Smith got the idea of accessing e-mail via the web from a computer anywhere in the world. When Sabeer Bhatia came up with the business plan for the mail service, he tried all kinds of names ending in 'mail' and finally settled for Hotmail as it included the letters "HTML" - the markup language used to write web pages. It was initially referred to as HoTMaiL with selective upper casing. (If you click on Hotmail's 'mail' tab, you will still find "HoTMaiL" in the URL.)
HSBC - The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.
Hyundai - connotes the sense of "the present age" or "modernity" in Korean.
IBM - named by Tom Watson, an ex-employee of National Cash Register. To one-up them in all respects, he called his company International Business Machines.
ICL - abbreviation for International Computers Ltd, once the UK's largest computer company, but now a service arm of Fujitsu, of Japan.
IKON - copier company name derived from I Know One Name.
Intel - Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore initially incorporated their company as N M Electronics. Someone suggested Moore Noyce Electronics but it sounded too close to "more noise" -- not a good choice for an electronics company! Later, Integrated Electronics was proposed but it had been taken by somebody else. Then, using initial syllables from INTegrated ELectronics, Noyce and Moore came up with Intel. To avoid potential conflicts with other companies of similar names, Intel purchased the name rights for $15,000 from a company called Intelco. (Source: Intel 15 Years Corporate Anniversary Brochure)
Interland - a web hosting provider formally known as Micron Computer, Inc. which was named either after InternetLandor the combination of the largest acqusition it performed, Interliant with the word Land.
Kawasaki - from the name of its founder, Shozo Kawasaki
Kodak - Both the Kodak camera and the name were the invention of founder George Eastman . The letter "K" was a favourite with Eastman; he felt it a strong and incisive letter. He tried out various combinations of words starting and ending with "K". He saw three advantages in the name. It had the merits of a trademark word, would not be mis-pronounced and the name did not resemble anything in the art. There is a misconception that the name was chosen because of its similarity to the sound produced by the shutter of the camera.
Konica - it was earlier known as Konishiroku Kogaku. Konishiroku in turn is the short for Konishiya Rokubeiten which was the first name of the company established by Rokusaburo Sugiura in the 1850s.
Korg - Formed from the surnames of the founders, Tsutomu Katoh and Tadashi Osanai, combined with the letters "rg" from the word organ.
LG - combination of two popular Korean brands Lucky and Goldstar. (In Mexicopublicists explained the name change to the public as an abbreviation to LÃnea Goldstar Spanish for Goldstar Line)
L'OrÃal - In 1907, EugÃ¨ne Schueller, a young French chemist, developed an innovative hair-color formula. He called his improved hair dye AurÃ©ole.
Lotus Software - Mitch Kapor got the name for his company from 'The Lotus Position' or 'Padmasana'. Kapor used to be a teacher of Transcendental Meditation technique as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Lucent Technologies- a spin-off from AT&T, it was named Lucent (meaning "luminous" or "glowing with light") because "light as a metaphor for visionary thinking reflected the company's operating and guiding business philosophy," according to the Landor Associates staff who chose the name. Source: Design Management Journal 8:1 (Winter 1997).
Lycos - from Lycosidae, the family of wolf spiders.
Mazda Motor - from the company's first president, Jujiro Matsuda . In Japanese, no syllables are ever stressed and some inner syllables are virtually skipped. Thus, Matsuda is pronounced "Matsda". To make the name fly better outside of Japan, the spelling was changed to Mazda.
McDonald's - from the name of the brothers Dick McDonald and Mac McDonald, who founded the first McDonald 's restaurant in 1940.
Mercedes - This is the first name of the daughter of Emil Jellinek, who worked for the early Daimler company around 1900.
MGM - Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was formed by the merger of three picture houses Metro Picture Corporation, Goldwyn Pictures Corporation and Louis B. Mayer Pictures. Goldwyn Picture Corporation in turn was named after the last names of Samuel Goldfish and Edgar and Archibald Selwyn.
Micron - computer memory producer named after the microscopic parts of its products. The official name was Micron Computer, Inc. Since, the company has become Interland, a web hosting provider, after selling/spinning off its RAM division and closing down its computer division, licensing the name. The company is now headquartered in Atlanta.
Microsoft - coined by Bill Gates to represent the company that was devoted to MICROcomputer SOFTware. Originally christened Micro-Soft, the '-' was removed later on.
midPhase - the post-dotcom era gave using the .com in a companies official name untrendy. A new dotcom company may be named traditionally, in midPhase's case it was named midPhase Services, Inc., the midPhase stands for Middle Phase, or middle of the road.
Mitsubishi - The name Mitsubishi (??) has two parts: mitsu means three and hishi (changing to bishi in the middle of the word) means water chestnut, and from here rhombus, which is reflected in the company's logo.
Motorola - Founder Paul Galvin came up with this name when his company (at the time, Galvin Manufacturing Company) started manufacturing radios for cars. Many audio equipment makers of the era used the " ola" ending for their products, most famously the "Victrola" phonograph made by the Victor Talking Machine Company. The name was meant to convey the idea of "sound" and "motion". The name became so recognized that the company later adopted it as the company name.
Mozilla Foundation - from the name of the web-browser that preceded Netscape Navigator. When Marc Andreesen , founder of Netscape, created a browser to replace the Mosaic browser, it was internally named Mozilla (Mosaic-Killer, Godzilla) by Jamie Zawinski.
MRF - Madras Rubber Factory, founded by K M Mammen Mappillai in 1946. He started with a toy balloon-manufacturing unit at Tiruvottiyur, Chennai (then called Madras). In 1952, he began manufacturing tread-rubber, and in 1961, tyres.
Nero - Nero Burning ROM named after Nero burning Rome.
Netscape- named by first marketing employee Greg Sands, in a panic when the Universityof Illinoisthreatened to sue the new company for its original name, Mosaic. Netscape then paid Landor $50,000 to design a logo.
Nike- named for the Greek goddess of victory.
Nikon - the original name was Nippon Kogaku, meaning "Japanese Optical".
Nissan - the company was earlier known by the name Nippon Sangyo which means "Japanese industry".
Nokia - started as a wood-pulp mill, the company expanded into producing rubber products in the Finnish city of Nokia. The company later adopted the city's name.
Nortel - The Nortel Networks name came from Nortel (Northern Telecom) and Bay Networks. The company was originally spun off from the Bell Telephone Company of Canada Ltd in 1895 as Northern Electric and Manufacturing, and traded as Northern Electric from 1914 to 1976.
Novartis - after the Latin expression "novae artes" which means something like "new skills".
Oracle - Larry Ellison, Ed Oates and Bob Miner were working on a consulting project for the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). The code name for the project was Oracle (the CIA saw this as the system to give answers to all questions or some such). The project was designed to help use the newly written SQL database language from IBM. The project eventually was terminated but they decided to finish what they started and bring it to the world. They kept the name Oracle and created the RDBMS engine. Later they changed the name of the company, Relational Technology Inc, to the name of the product.
Pepsi - Pepsi derives its name from (treatment of) dyspepsia, an intestinal ailment.
Philips - Royal Philips Electronics was founded in 1891, by brothers Gerard (the engineer) and Anton (the entrepreneur) Philips .
Qantas - From its original name, Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Services.
Red Hat - Company founder Marc Ewing was given the Cornell lacrosse team cap (with red and white stripes) while at college by his grandfather. People would turn to him to solve their problems, and he was referred to as 'that guy in the red hat'. He lost the cap and had to search for it desperately. The manual of the beta version of Red Hat Linux had an appeal to readers to return his Red Hat if found by anyone.
Reebok - another spelling of rhebok (Pelea capreolus), an African antelope.
SAAB - founded in 1937 in Swedenas "Svenska Aeroplan aktiebolaget" (Swedish Aeroplane Company) abbreviated SAAB.
Samsonite - Samsonite was launched as a brand in 1941, receiving its name from the Biblical character Samson, renowned for his strength.
Samsung - meaning three stars in Korean.
Sanyo - The Japanese translation is disputed, although the Chinese name is "??" (literally, "Three Oceans")
SAP - "Systems, Applications, Products in Data Processing", formerly "SystemAnalyse und Programmentwicklung" (German for "System analysis and program development"), formed by 4 ex- IBM employees who used to work in the 'Systems/Applications/Projects' group of IBM.
SEGA - "Service Games of Japan" (SeGa) Founded by Marty Bromley (an American) to import pinball games to Japanfor use on American military bases.
Sharp - Japanese consumer electronics company named from its first product, an ever-sharp pencil.
Shell - Royal Dutch Shell was established in 1907, when the Royal Netherlands Petrol Society Plc. and the Shell Transport and Trading Company Ltd. merged. The Shell Transport and Trading Company Ltd. had been established at the end of the 19th century, by commercial firm Samuel & Co (founded in 1830). Samuel & Co were already successfully importing Japanese shells when they set up an oil company, so the oil company was named after the shells Samuel & Co were importing.
Siemens - founded in 1847 by Werner von Siemens and Johann Georg Halske: the company was originally called Telegraphen-Bau-Anstalt von Siemens & Halske.
Sprint - from its parent company, Southern Pacific Railroad INTernal Communications. Back in the day, pipelines and railroad tracks were the cheapest place to lay communications lines, as the right-of-way was already leased or owned.
Sun Microsystems - its founders designed their first workstation in their dorm at StanfordUniversity, and chose the name Stanford University Network for their product, hoping to sell it to the college. They didn't.
Suzuki - from the name of its founder, Michio Suzuki
Tesco - Founder Jack Cohen, who from 1919 sold groceries in the markets of the London East End, acquired a large shipment of tea from T. E. Stockwell and made new labels by using the first three letters of the supplier's name and the first two letters of his surname forming the word "TESCO".
Toshiba - was founded by the merger of consumer goods company Tokyo Denki (Tokyo Electric Co) and electrical firm Shibaura Seisaku-sho (Shibaura Engineering Works).
Toyota - from the founder's name Sakichi Toyoda. Initially called Toyeda, it was changed after a contest for a better-sounding name. The new name was written in katakana with eight strokes, a number that is considered lucky in Japan.
Unisys - made-up name for the company that resulted from the combination of two old mainframe computer companies, Burroughs and Sperry [Sperry Univac/Sperry Rand]. It "united" two incompatible ranges. Unisys was briefly the world's second-largest computer company, after IBM.
Verizon - A portmanteau of veritas (Latin for truth) and horizon.
Vodafone - is a multinational mobile phone operator with headquarters in the United Kingdom. Its name is made up of VOice, DAta, TeleFONE. Vodafone made the UK's first mobile call at a few minutes past midnight on the 1 January 1985.
Volvo - From the Latin word "volvo", which means "I roll". It was originally a name for a ball bearing being developed by SKF.
Xerox - The inventor, Chestor Carlson, named his product trying to say `dry' (as it was dry copying, markedly different from the then prevailing wet copying). The Greek root `xer' means dry.
Yahoo! - a "backronym" for Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle. The word Yahoo was invented by Jonathan Swift and used in his book Gulliver's Travels. It represents a person who is repulsive in appearance action and is barely human. Yahoo! founders David Filo and Jerry Yang selected the name because they jokingly considered themselves yahoos