Behind An Empire: How These 10 Iconic Brands Acquired Their Names

Published on May 16, 2024

Credit: Slidebean

In the vast consumer goods marketplace, brands often become more than just names on labels; they become symbols of quality, trust, and innovation.

However, behind every successful brand lies a unique backstory , often filled with ingenuity, perseverance, and sometimes even a tad of serendipity. Read on to find out the intriguing stories behind 10 household names that have left an indelible mark on the world.



Credit: Bryan Angelo

Amazon has been around for 25 years now, but before becoming the giant that it is, it shapeshifted several times. Jeff Bezos, its creator, first built an online bookstore intending to offer an unparalleled selection of titles and exceptional customer service. This brand was named "Cadabra", a clear reference to "abracadabra," a magic word.

However, Bezos’ lawyer at the time considered it an obscure name, and in 1994, Bezos and his wife started exploring other names and registered several domains, like "" just in case one of those was going to be the one. Eventually, he decided he wanted a brand starting with the letter A, the first in the alphabet, and, after perusing the dictionary, he landed on the word Amazon, the largest river on the planet. The superlative had the winning factor and the rest is history.



Credit: Pawel Czerwinski

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two graduate students at Stanford University began collaborating on a search engine project in 1996. Their initial goal was to create a more efficient way to navigate the World Wide Web. Originally named "Backrub" due to its focus on analyzing backlinks , the project eventually evolved into what we now know as Google, but the name was actually the product of a misspelling.

Sean Anderson, a Stanford graduate, pitched the term "googolplex" in a brainstorming session for the name change. However, Page countered a simple version of it "Googol", which denotes a colossal number in mathematics: the digit 1 followed by a hundred zeros.

When checking the availability of the domain, Anderson accidentally typed Google and Page liked this version of the name best . They secured it on September 15, 1997, marking the birth of a digital giant.



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Originally founded as "Blue Ribbon Sports" in 1964 by Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman, the company’s beginnings were quite humble. Knight, a former middle-distance runner at the University of Oregon, and Bowerman, his coach, shared a passion for improving athletic performance. They joined forces to import Japanese sports shoes from the Onitsuka factory to the United States.

The pivotal moment of the company came in 1971 when they rebranded it as Nike , a name inspired by the Greek goddess of victory. In Greek mythology, Nike is often depicted as a divine figure symbolizing victory, strength, and speed. This name, together with the presentation of the Swoosh logo marked the beginning of a new era.



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Steve Jobs may be the one you think of when you think of Apple, but the brand was co-created with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne in 1976. The name, however, was in fact Jobs’ invention and it has more than one backstory. In Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacson, the creator himself admits that he came up with the name while he was on a fruitarian diet. He mentions having visited an apple farm and considering the name because it was "fun, spirited and not intimidating." This story was confirmed by Wozniak who drove him back from the airport after that trip.

However, there is another reason why the brand was named "Apple," and that is because, just like with Jeff Bezos’ Amazon, Jobs intended to have consumers find his brand before his competitor Atari in the phone book.



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You drink their coffee every couple of days, and you probably use their space as an office and a place of recreation, but have you ever wondered why Starbucks is called Starbucks? The coffee company is a titan of the industry with good reason, and the story behind its name is just as interesting.

Bowker, Baldwin, and Siegl - Starbucks’ founders - set off with a simple goal: finding a powerful name. According to marketing specialists st ****- words have that strength. The three men started scouting around for a name and came across a small town called Starbo, on a mining map. That was enough for Gordon Bowker to think of Moby Dick’s character, Starbuck.

As the company itself states, this name evokes "the romance of the high seas and the seafaring tradition of the early coffee traders."



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We bet that if you take your eyes off this article and look around, you’ll find at least one thing from IKEA, isn’t that right? That is because IKEA is part of our everyday life, and leaving their stores empty-handed is almost impossible.

We have Ingvar Kamprad to thank for this amazing creation, and if you pay close attention, you already know where the name comes from. That is right, IKEA is an acronym and the two first letters belong to the founder’s initials.

As for the E and the A in it, the first stands for Elmtaryd, which is the name of the farm Kamprad grew up on, and the second stands for Agunnaryd, the name of his village. Put it all together and you get IKEA, and probably a piece of furniture too.



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Pepsi has carved out a sparkling legacy spanning more than a century. Its journey has been one of continuous evolution making it an iconic global drink. This beverage originated as a remedy for stomach discomfort, thanks to Caleb Bradhma, a pharmacist in North Carolina. Seeking a name that better encapsulated its essence, Bradham eventually settled on "Pepsi-Cola" in 1902, having purchased the moniker "Pep Kola" from a local competitor.

Interestingly, the name "Pepsi" finds its roots in "dyspepsia," a medical term that means indigestion. By the 19th century, this was a very common affection, and products to cure it contained animal pepsin, a digestive enzyme. Although Pepsi never included this ingredient in its list, Bradham used this to his favor to sell Pepsi around!



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Nintendo, a household name in the gaming industry traces back to 1889, when it embarked on its journey with the humble venture into the playing card business. The moniker "Nintendo" was chosen for this initial foray, which comes from the Japanese language, as its creator.

Nintendo, which means "leave luck to heaven" is not just a label, it is the founder Fusajiro Yamuchi’s philosophical approach towards the nature of card games. Fast forward to the 1970s, and Nintendo made a pivotal shift into the burgeoning realm of video games . Despite the drastic change in industry and product, the company opted to maintain the original name. This decision was about both brand continuity and a testament to Ninendo’s enduring commitment to innovation.



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McDonald's is the number one titan of the fast-food industry and it dates back to 1940. It all began with a modest barbecue restaurant established by Richard and Maurice McDonald . Little did they know that their journey would evolve into a global phenomenon.

Even if the company takes its name from the owners, the pivotal moment came when Ray Kroc, a tenacious milkshake machine salesman entered the picture. He acknowledged the potential of the kitchen setup and saw an opportunity for expansion. Under Kroc’s leadership, McDonald’s underwent a transformative journey and became an empire of golden arches spanning across the continent keeping the name of the family that first created the brand and honoring it with the many variations of it we can find in the name of the dishes.



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What began in 1969 as a modest enterprise has blossomed into a global powerhouse, leaving an indelible mark on industries ranging from electronics to finance and beyond. At the heart of Samsung’s identity lies its name, a beacon of aspiration and promise.

In Korean, Samsung translates to "three stars," a poignant reflection of founder Lee Byung-chull’s lofty ambitions for the company. To him, the name was more than a mere designation, it embodied a vision of brilliance, strength, and enduring radiance. Each star symbolized a face of his vision: largeness, abundance, and resilience. And they have certainly honored this story as it has rapidly become an icon of innovation and enterprise with unwavering determination.


10 Times Actors Missed Out On Iconic Movie Roles

Published on May 16, 2024

Credit: Felipe Bustillo

Ever wonder what could have been if your favorite actors had landed different roles? From scheduling conflicts to creative differences, Hollywood is rife with tales of missed opportunities.

Here are 10 instances where actors narrowly missed out on starring in iconic films, altering cinematic history forever.


Will Smith as Neo in The Matrix


Did you know that Will Smith almost took the red pill and became Neo in the 1999 sci-fi blockbuster The Matrix ? Despite being the first one considered for the role, Will Smith turned down the part of Neo to star in Wild Wild West . He later recalled that, at the time, he was tired of doing action sci-fi films, and that motivated his decision to reject the role. Keanu Reeves eventually took on the iconic role, catapulting him to superstardom and solidifying the film's place in pop culture.


Gwyneth Paltrow as Rose in Titanic

Credit: NOAA

Gwyneth Paltrow was initially offered the role of Rose in James Cameron's Titanic , in part because the director didn’t want to be "too obvious" with his cast choices. But Paltrow turned the role down, as she didn’t want to take on such a demanding role at the time. As we all know, ultimately Kate Winslet took on the role, and her portrayal of the spirited Rose captivated audiences worldwide.


Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones

Credit: Intricate Explorer

The legendary Indiana Jones didn’t always have the familiar face of Harrison Ford. Magnum, P.I. star Tom Selleck was originally cast for the role of Indy in Raiders of the Lost Ark , but he had to drop out due to previous contractual obligations with the popular TV show. The role then went to Ford, solidifying his status as a rugged action hero and launching the Indiana Jones franchise to great success.


Sean Connery as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings

Credit: Ergo Zakki

Now we can’t hardly think of anyone other than the lovely Sir Ian McKellen playing the mightiest wizard of Middle Earth. But initially, it was Sean Connery who was offered the role of Gandalf in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. However, he didn’t like the script, and turned the offer down, unknowingly missing out on one of the most successful fantasy films of all time.


John Travolta as Forrest Gump

Credit: Mattia Bericchia

Did you know that John Travolta was initially considered for the titular role in Forrest Gump ?

However, he didn’t take the role because he had already been offered a chance to star in Pulp Fiction . Thankfully for fans of both movies, this decision brought us dozens of unforgettable scenes in Tarantino’s film and cleared the way for Tom Hanks to deliver an Oscar-winning performance of what would become one of the most beloved characters in film history.


Henry Cavill as Edward Cullen in Twilight

Credit: Clément Falize

Although Henry Cavill was never contacted by the Twilight production, he was originally considered for the role of Edward Cullen in the Twilight saga. However, the director eventually decided that Robert Pattinson would be best for the role of the centenary vampire. Later, Cavill said that though he didn’t know at the time, it would have been interesting to have a chance at the role.


Michelle Pfeiffer as Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs

Credit: Matthew Ansley

Michelle Pfeiffer was the first choice to play Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs , but she eventually declined the role due to its dark subject matter. She said she was uncomfortable with the direction the script took, and the amount of "evil" portrayed in the film. Jodie Foster ultimately took on the role, delivering an unforgettable performance that earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress.


Burt Reynolds as James Bond

Credit: Intricate Explorer

After Sean Connery's departure from the popular spy franchise, Burt Reynolds was the first considered to take on the larger-than-life character. Although he later regretted his decision, he turned the role down because, at the time, he believed that the public would never accept an American James Bond. His decision eventually paved the way for Roger Moore to step into the iconic spy's shoes.


Angelina Jolie as Ryan Stone in Gravity

Credit: NASA

Angelina Jolie was initially chosen to star in 2013 sci-fi thriller Gravity , but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts with her directing work on Unbroken . Alfonso Cuaron lamented the decision, stating that she was perfectly suited to the role, and considered several names before finding a replacement. Eventually, the role went to Sandra Bullock, who delivered a captivating performance that earned her critical acclaim and an Academy Award nomination.


Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly in Back to the Future

Credit: Sebastiano Piazzi

Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly in Back to the Future but was replaced by Michael J. Fox a few weeks into filming due to creative differences. According to members of the production, Stoltz's method acting and lack of humor clashed with the script’s lighthearted spirit.

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