Choosing a name for a brand is hard – it’s almost like naming a baby – because that’s how they are going to be recognised as. But a name change for a brand is an equally big deal – it signifies a shift in a business’ strategy and also maps out the road map for the future. Let’s have a look at what some of the famous brands were initially known as and how they changed their names and why.
1. Facemash – Facebook – Meta
Facebook started as Facemash at Harvard University back in 2003. Although Facemash was short lived because of Zuckerberg violating Harvard’s policy, the popularity it gained made Zuck register thefacebook.com and the rest is history. They did drop the ‘the’ in 2005 and then Facebook changed its parent company’s name to Meta back in October 2021 to reflect their emphasis on the future, that is, Metaverse.
2. Matchbox – Tinder
Tinder is the app that changed the dating world, but it’s also an app that changed its name. Originally, Tinder was called Matchbox, probably an ode to the concept of love and fire. Due to another competitor with the similar name, the name was changed to Tinder, which became an instant hit.
3. BackRub – Google – Alphabet
Did you know Google was called BackRub back in the days? Yes! Why though? Well, initially Google used to analyse the importance of backlinks a website had, and hence the name. But later they had to incorporate the rapid improvement in the search technology and hence a name change was required. But did you know that it was supposed to be Googol instead of Google? But because Sean is not an infallible speller, he looked for the domain name Google and then it just stuck. The name of the parent company was also changed to Alphabet. Here’s the reasoning behind it –
“We liked the name Alphabet because it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search! We also like that it means alpha-bet (Alpha is investment return above benchmark), which we strive for!”
4. Odeo – Twitter
The transition from Odeo to Twitter is one of the most famous business rebranding in social media history. Initially, it was a podcast and not the microblogging website. Fearing the threat from iTunes which could have been emerged as a podcast giant, they shift from podcast to Twitter as we know it.
5. Relentless – Amazon
Go type relentless.com in your browser and see what happens. If you just did that, you’d have been redirected to amazon.com. Because that was the initial name Jeff Bezos was going with. Then going through the A section of the dictionary, Bezos discovered the world Amazon and he though the name of earth’s largest river was perfect because he was building earth’s largest bookstore.
6. UrbanClap – Urban Company
UrbanClap, the company that provides home-services for almost everything you need, became a house-hold name pretty quickly. In 2020, it introduced six new sub-brands and rebranded UrbanClap to Urban Company to become a globally accepted brand.
7. Brad’s Drink – Pepsi
Pepsi was initially called Brad’s Drink based on the name of its creator, Caleb D. Bradham, who concocted the drink in his North Carolina drugstore. But the name missed that oomph factor. So, five years later, he rebranded the drink as Pepsi-Cola. But where did Pepsi came from? Well, the word was taken from dyspepsia, which means indigestion, as he claimed the drink did wonders for digestion.